Monday, September 30, 2013

September Challenge Recap

So, we have decided to shake things up a bit.
I will still be highlighting the designers of the week in something new I will be starting in October called Perfect Pairings :: Designer + Bead Artist (formerly Designer of the Week). I have already been doing that so that we can give a shout out to designers and the art beads artists that they love. We are the Art Bead Scene after all!  

At the end of the month, I am going to make a photo collage of all the entries on the ABS Flickr group, not just the ones that have the blogs. The problem was always that I might miss adding someone because they didn't post their exact URL for the blog post, or it was buried and hidden in the comments. I don't like the feeling of letting anyone down. And this way, everyone who submits a picture to the Flickr pool will be highlighted in the end of the month recap. Just a kind order for the end of the month collage to work, it will be best to have at least one picture you upload be a single shot of the piece. You can always upload a second one in a collage with closeups, but for this use, we will need one single shot. I did a lot of research this week on collage making applications, and have decided to use Ribbet for making the collage directly from the Flickr pool. Pretty cool!

As for the blog posts that you reference in the Flickr description... it has always been hard to be sure that we were getting that right, and the exact URL is very important. And not everyone blogs. We still want to encourage you to blog about your process, your inspirations and most especially the art beads. This way, you can get your picture posted to Flickr without the worry of having the blog post done and then go back to finish that later. Hopefully, that will encourage more participation!

I am going to start using the InLinkz system for you to add your blog post to the monthly Challenge Recap post (the former Monthly Challenge Blog Tour). That way we can check out the eye candy and then hop around to different blogs. So... it will be up to you to add your blog to the monthly recap post.

We always had two sponsors, with two generous prizes. Going forward, we will split the sponsor prizes into two: one prize winner for a random picture on the Flickr pool and one prize winner for a random poster with a blog link. So if you want to be considered for the blog link prize, be sure to use the InLinkz code at the bottom of the post!

So without further ado (and there will be much less ado in subsequent months) here is our inspiration and our amazing creations inspired by this painting.

 The flowers and grapevines, the flowing tresses and the reclining beauty, the golden hues punctuated by sage greens and merlot reds. This painting gave us much to encourage our creativity.

Your turn! Click the InLinz Link-up below to add your blog post to the hop! And thanks for all you do to make the Art Bead Scene a place for celebrating art and beads!

P.S.I am currently completing this in a hotel room in D.C. for the ArtBliss weekend. I am actually leaving for the airport, but if you would like to contact me directly my email is enjoytheday @ tesoritrovati .com. I hope that you will come to enjoy this change and I promise that I will work out any kinks for the next one. Thanks for your support!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Show Me Sunday - Back to School! - with Rebecca of Songbead

Happy Sunday, folks! I'm slowly getting used to my new surroundings, over here in Northern Ireland. This weekend was used to explore Belfast city centre, and I'm hoping we'll get out and about into the countryside soon too. It's still all very new, so our Back to School theme is still very apt for me!

This month, I thought I'd share a fellow Brit's tutorials with you. Some of you will probably already be familiar with Lesley Watt of Thea Jewellery and Thea Elements's work, but did you know that she also shares free tutorials on her blog, The Gossiping Goddess? Here are pictures of the things you can make under Lesley's expert guidance:

Wire Macrame Earrings

Gossiping Goddess Bracelet
Lesley includes full written and photographic instructions, and - did I mention? - these are free! Thank you Lesley, for your generosity :-)

And leading on from this lovely bracelet, October's theme is going to be......handmade buttons. Many art bead artisans are also art bead artists....just ask our resident button expert, Tari ;-) I know that I love using buttons in my own work - both as clasps and connectors, but also purely decoratively. I'm sure I am not the only one! Share links to your favourite art buttons in the comments below. 

And now for the bead blogger links:

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer, currently living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sponsor Spotlight

Today I'm featuring some of my favorite picks from our sponsors.  The ceramic pendants and leaves are from the incredibly talented Mary Harding.  Oh, how her pieces make speak to my soul!  These designs are prefect for fall.  I paired them up with some lovely finds from Rebecca's The Curious Bead Shop. Be sure to stop by and see all the goodies in their Etsy shops. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Designer of the Week :: Suburban Girl Studios + SueBeads

If you follow Miss Diana (and I highly recommend that you do!) on her journey with all things beady, you will know that she recently took up bead embroidery after a five year hiatus. The first time she abandoned the projects. This time, she saw the light and completed them! This beautiful focal is one of her own ceramic pendants in a lovely leaf that she embellished with those (evil-to-me) seed beads! I am in awe of people who choose to use them and make such amazing things. The colors are perfect for the inspiration piece. Pairing with this are some beads from Sue Kennedy. Just look at that wee leaf that looks like it is God's paintbrush! Beautiful!

Featured Designer :: Suburban Girl Studio

Featured Art Bead :: SueBeads

Join me here on Monday, September 30th for the monthly blog tour.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Show Me Sunday with Rebecca of Songbead

Happy Sunday folks! It's back to school month.....and I've been on the search for tutorials, books, and projects....

Here's a tute I found, from amazing lampwork artist Helen Chalmers - aimed at both intermediate and beginner lampworkers. 

If I had any glass skills, this would be on my shopping list! Until I do, I'll just have to keep buying from Helen :-)

And now for the Bead Blogger Links:

A Bead A Day 
Do your jewelry projects ever take twists and turns during the creative process. Stop by A Bead A Day to share your story. 

Art Bead Scene 
Check out some beautiful boro lampwork beads and their corresponding colour palettes with Brandi! 

Beading Arts 
Cyndi is starting a new series on making a bead embroidered necklace...follow along and try one for yourself! 

Resin Crafts Blog 
The Lanvin inspired name plate necklace is easy to make with Resin Clay. 

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done! 
Jean is a member of a group of designers for the great store and online presence Baubles & Beads. This week was the first reveal for the designers. Stop by and see what Jean made, enter a giveaway, and scoop up a great coupon code good through Sept. at Baubles & Beads ! Yay! 

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton 
Andrew shares some upcoming classes at Allegory Gallery, including a Weekend Intensive taught by him and Lynne Suprock! 

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer, currently living in Manchester, England. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at

Friday, September 20, 2013

Art Bead Palette :: Fire Lily Glass Studio

In all the time that I've been here contributing to ABS, I've only just now realized that I somehow neglected to share with you one of my all-time favorite bead shops. I mentioned it briefly here, but never did a palette post for it. For shame.

Friends, let me introduce you to the beauty that is Fire Lily Glass Studio. One word: lush.

Dark Blue & Red Spot Beads

Mauve Olive Boro Beads

Green Blue Boro Glass Beads

Bright Yellow Royal Blue Swirl Beads

Cherry Red Purple and Orange Boro Beads

When I was selling jewelry, this was one of my absolute favorite boro resources because Erin, the artist behind these lovely glass creations, has such a dab hand at color and her quality is flawless. I can't tell you how many of her beads have passed through my hands; I honestly don't know. I do know that it's somewhere between "a lot" and "more than a jewelry designer can possibly use."

I also know is that borosilicate lampwork beads are my first art bead love. Once I stumbled onto these little works of art, the stunning colors hooked me in and I never looked back. I'm not a lampwork artist, so I don't know the specifics, but something about borosilicate glass creates amazing depth, and the colors seem to shine brighter. And Erin's shop is full of beady goodness!

There's a lot to love, so this is a tough question, I'm sure, but which one's your favorite?

P.S. If you happen to see a large lot of orphan boros (Erin offers them up from time to time), grab them. Not only are they a fantastic deal, they are also a great way to step out of your comfort zone with colors you may not be used to using. Just trust me on this.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Designer of the Week :: Gingko et Coquelicot + Bead Swede Supplies

Oh, the color! It grabbed me and said hello! The rich, saturated tones of autumn come alive in this bracelet by Karin of Gingko et Coquelicot. The russet, the tangerine, the sage and the gold are all melted together in this bracelet that looks like the sun swirled all these colors together and poured them onto your arm. Perfect for a pop of color during sweater weather!

Featured Designer :: Gingko et Coquelicot

Featured Art Bead :: Bead Swede Supplies

Join me here on Monday, September 30th for the monthly blog tour.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Show Me Sunday - Back to School! - with Rebecca of Songbead

Happy Sunday, ABS-ers! I hope you are all sliding into Autumn easily enough. The leaves are starting to turn, the weather is cooler - and the rain is very much out in full force over here in the UK!

Autumn is traditionally a month of beginnings - fresh starts and turning over new leaves. This is very much the case for me, as a week ago today, we loaded up the car, drove to the edge of Wales (Holyhead), hopped on a ferry and moved over to Northern Ireland! My partner got a new job over the summer; not much notice or time for us to decide, but we took the leap and here we are :-) I am very much enjoying my new setting so far - we are living on a bustling road, with cafes and shops only a few minutes walk from our house. I have my own studio; a large room with high ceilings, an original fireplace and two large windows....sure, there's no furniture in there quite yet, but there will be! It is likely that (due to my partner's work) we'll only be living here for a year, but I plan to make the most of the fantastic space I have for that year.

And so onto our monthly theme, very apt for this month! Back to school....I'm sharing our trusty leader, Heather Powers' wonderful set of free tutorials - available to all here on her website. Tutorials - whether online, in a magazine or a book - are things with which we all choose to work in different ways. Whether you follow them to the letter, change things up a little, or even just read through them for inspiration, they are great things to get your creative juices and mojo fired up. Heather's tutorials all feature beautiful pictures of the finished items, clear instructions and supplies lists. And there are tons of them - what are you waiting for?! Here's one of them - her Joyful Encounters necklace, in my favourite colour scheme of the moment. 

Share your favourite tutorials and other educational tools here on the blog! 

And now for the bead blogger links:

Kumihimo obsessed? Lisa is too and hasn't even USED The technique yet. She is sharing a super sparkly project. 

Revisit a 'best of' post with Sparrow Salvage - an ever-popular topic: how to take great jewellery photos!

Cyndi shows you how to make a necklace that features a "Shower of Pearls"! 

Ever start a piece of jewelry and then struggle to finish it? That's what happened to Charlene. There is a happy ending! 

A beautiful art book concerning Blythe dolls (wearing jewelry of course!) has been written by Jean with her co authors and 40 world wide contributors. Preview the book, Big Eyed Love, and read more about it on Jean's blog! 

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer, currently living in Manchester, England. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Studio Saturday with Erin Siegel

Welcome to Studio Saturday! Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard.
The following week we choose a random winner.

This week's winner is Kayz Kreationz. Congratulations! You have won a set of bittersweet disk beads from Heather Powers of Humble Beads.
  Send Heather an email with your address and she will get your prize out to you soon.
This week we visit the studio of
Erin Siegel of Erin Siegel Jewelry

Hello! Right now, I'm working on magazine submissions. Today, I invite you inside my studio to take a sneak peek at the materials I'm creating with for the Spring 2014 issue of Jewelry Stringing Magazine! It's time to submit jewelry designs for next year's Spring issue, now. And yep, I'm actually sharing with you exactly what I'm working on for the pieces I plan to submit to the magazine. That might seem kinda crazy, but I embrace the idea of freely sharing information that might help someone else find success in getting published. I thought it'd be fun to do a little show and tell to give you a glimpse of my process. I hope this information will help other designers feel more confident about creating jewelry for publication.

Getting your jewelry published can be a tricky thing. Personally, I find that challenge fun! There's absolutely no guarantee that anything I make will be selected. All I can do is try my best to follow the magazine's guidelines, let the themes and color palettes provided inspire ideas for my designs and stay true to my own style, esthetic and creative process

Jewelry Stringing is one of my all-time favorite beading magazines. I'm intrigued and captivated by the themes and color palettes the editors come up with to inspire their contributing designers. Come join me now and get a taste for what I'm working on and my process for creating jewelry pieces for this particular magazine. I hope to inspire you to work on your own creations as well and submit your designs.

Jewelry Stringing provides guidelines, themes and color palettes for each one of their upcoming issues. You can find the full details and guidelines for submission here. I've provided some of the information for the Spring 2014 issue here in this post.

The first theme and color palette for Spring 2014 is "Soft Jewelry". (The following description is taken from the guidelines on the magazine's website.)
Soft Jewelry
Leather, ribbon, cord, thread, embroidery floss, and fabric are most commonly used as stringing materials and structural components in jewelry pieces, but they also lend themselves to creative and compelling focal elements. Submissions in this category will range in style, but they should all include fibers, textiles, or leather as a prominent design feature. Consider highlighting these materials through techniques like knotting, braiding, and wrapping, or incorporating current trends like fringe or tassels into your designs.
See their Pinterest inspiration board for this palette at:
So, here's what I've chosen to work with for this theme:
As you can see, I've matched up pretty well with the first two colors in the palette provided. You do not have to use all the colors in the suggested palette, but at least one color in your design should match up. I chose these African trade beads in "Teal" from For additional color, texture and the fiber elements needed for the theme, I hand-knotted the beads on multiple strands of Irish Waxed linen cord in "Sunflower". Then, I'll pair the knotted beads with some brown Greek leather cord to complete the design.

The second theme and color palette for Spring 2014 is "Spring Greens". (The following description is taken from the guidelines on the magazine's website.)
Spring Greens
If there is one color that ubiquitously represents springtime, it has to be green. Fresh leaves sprout from the trees, grass peeks out from beneath snowdrifts, and budding shoots speckle our garden beds. From subdued mossy shades to high-energy lime tones, each piece in this category will celebrate spring in all its green glory.
See their Pinterest inspiration board for this palette at:

Here are some materials I've chosen to use for this palette and theme:
 Shimmer Floss Ribbon, Czech glass beads, Irish waxed linen and a gold button.
I've got some hand-painted Shimmer Floss ribbon in "Grandma Moses" from, green, faceted Czech glass beads, Irish Waxed Linen in "Dark Forest Green" from Jewelry Accord and a matte gold button from the fabric store. In this palette, I did want to match up with as many of the green colors as I could. The hand-painted shimmer floss helps me pull quite a few of the green tones in the palette with just that one element. I'll pull in the darkest green color with the waxed linen cord. Then, I'll pair the fibers with the contrasting finish of the faceted Czech glass beads and the button for balance and interest in the piece.

The third theme for Spring 2014 is "Monochromatic".  (The following description is taken from the guidelines on the magazine's website.)

In honor of our annual color issue, we are inviting our contributors to create monochromatic pieces in the color of their choice. While creating a piece in a single color simplifies the process of selecting color-coordinated materials, it makes the other design elements of the piece more visible. Balance, proportion, and symmetry are often accomplished through clever color combinations. Without the aid of a varied palette, designers must rely on their other skills to create well-executed, interesting, and attractive jewelry. We know that you are up to the challenge, so pick a color and show us what you've got!
See their Pinterest inspiration board for this section at:

Below is the color I've decided to go with for monochromatic:

Grey Opaque Matte size 8 seed beads from ShipWreck Beads.

Yep, Grey. Might not seem too exciting. Why in the world would I choose grey out of all the beautiful colors of the rainbow? Well, the design I want to make for this category will be elegant, sophisticated  and a little bit moody. That description could not be farther from how I would describe my usual style. I've decided to go in this direction because the color and look I have in mind is a total deviation from the esthetic I would normally create. It's fun to try different styles and show some range in my work. That is very exciting to me! :) I'm going to incorporate these opaque, matte grey seed beads from into my jewelry piece by stringing them on multiple strands of grey waxed linen cord. The multiple strands of these seed beads will provide texture and visual interest to a monochromatic design.

Last, but not least, the fourth theme for Spring 2014 is "Bead Soup". (The following description is taken from the guidelines on the magazine's website.)
Bead Soup
In contrast to the previous theme, the pieces in this section will be packed with colors-the more the better! We are challenging you to use as many different colors as possible in your submissions for this category, but be careful that you aren't sacrificing cohesion or wear-ability for variety. Tip: Successful "bead soup" pieces often have a unifying characteristic that runs throughout each design (ie: consistent bead size, shape, finish or material; a repeated technique; a specific theme or motif; etc.). 
See our Pinterest inspiration board for this section at:

Here are some beads I pulled from my stash for this category:
Seed beads from and a handmade ceramic bead set by Keith O'Connor.
One hank of "All Mixed Up" size 8 Czech seed beads from Shipwreck Beads and a graduated ceramic bead set from ceramic artist, Keith O'Connor. I can't think of a better way to get more colors in than these fantastic seed bead mixes! They remind me a lot of the African "Christmas" or "Love" trade beads, which would also be a great choice for this theme. If you take a look at the Pinterest board for this category above, there are images of African beadwork. So, obviously those would be an ideal selection!

I hope you've enjoyed following along with me on my journey to creating jewelry for the Spring 2014 issue of Jewelry Stringing magazine. I want to inspire you with ideas that you can use in your own jewelry. If you'd like to try submitting your designs, here is the deadline information and submission guidelines you'll need to know:

E-mailed pre-submissions are due September 26th, 2013; physical submissions are due October 10th, 2013.
For the rest of the submissions instructions and specifics, please read through the Contributor Guidelines in their entirety here.

Do you submit your jewelry to any beading magazines?
Would you like to see your designs published? 
Why or why not?

"Envious" Color Cord Mix from Jewelry Accord

Leave a comment answering any of the above questions and you will be entered for a chance to win an Irish Waxed Linen Cord Color Mix courtesy of the Jewelry Accord shop on Etsy!

By the way, this green color cord mix from Jewelry Accord would be an excellent material choice for jewelry project submissions to the  "Spring Greens" color palette shown above!

Happy Beading!

Erin Siegel is a jewelry designer, beading instructor and co-author of the jewelry book, Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry: 50 Designs Using Leather, Ribbon and Cords. To find out more, visit her blog: Erin Siegel Jewelry.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Best of the ABS: How to Style Great Photo Backgrounds with Sparrow Salvage

Last year we ran an amazing post from Penny of Sparrow Salvage.  I was thinking this week about how much I appreciated that post that I just had to share it again today.  You can read the entire post here. Below are some highlights from the original article.

Backgrounds!! That was sudden wasn't it? But yes here we are, the long awaited backgrounds post, the purpose of which is to teach you the best way to present your product, whether it's handmade, vintage or supplies.You might not think it's that big a deal, but trust me- it's crucial!

The purpose of the background is not only to showcase your item but also to give you shop an overall 'vibe'- or what the marketing chaps call 'brand concept'. Light ones will make your shop look bright and airy, dark ones will give you drama, patterns will give you an opulence either way and colour will give you vibrancy.

In order to pick the best background for your product, you have to first do what I'm always telling you to do - know your market! Figure out who's most likely to buy your goods and market them accordingly. This of course may change over time, but as an example, in all the styles I've gone through there's a strong theme of romance, because I make romantic jewelry. Even if your jewelry doesn't look particularly 'of a style', you can still make it so- from coloured enamel beads to one of a kind vintage assemblage. Here's a pair of earrings I made in as modern a way as I can manage:

These are what Kim and I call 'hipster bait' -they're a pretty straight forward design, popular with many fashionable alternatives right now. Not much that's romantic about them, in fact they look a little bit cold (I think) with all their straight lines and silver white. But they look especially cold when shot in this style of most hipster shops- plain white background. Now then- if I shoot them on something romantic like old paper, they suddenly change:

A warmth comes into them. The earrings haven't changed, but there's a noticeably more attractive quality about them. Watch what happens the more romantic layering I use...

By the time we get to that last image, these earrings might as well be in the arms of Mr.Darcy for all their romantic saturation. With this deep layering of fluff and ruffles, I can shoot almost anything and it'll look romantic.

So now you see that it's very important your background matches your desired style because it will affect your product and your overall shop style. it will effectively dictate the style of your shop possibly more than your work will.

OK, let's talk pale backgrounds. A couple of you commented that you shoot your product on plain white backgrounds and it's become boring- not surprising! Though Etsy's front page seems to favour the bright white background, it can become tired. But you can use a pale background and still have your shop look lovely and non-boring, and the key to this is texture.

*Texture is what makes things interesting. A white sheet of office paper is boring because it has no texture. But a sheet of artist's watercolour paper is more interesting, because it's uneven surface reflects the light in a more natural way.

*White on white is often used to create a fresh, clean look- just be sure to use 'warm' whites- ones that are more creamy, boney colours, to avoid a cold feeling.

*If you like the look of white on white but don't want your shop looking too bright, you can add some darker browns in there -stick with a neutral palette when using white-on-white, colour will take you in a whole other direction which we'll talk about in a bit. In the picture below I've angled the stack so you get a bit of the dark brown underneath- this has 'mellowed' the light, giving a more earthiness and toning down the 'bright summer's day' feeling, while still keeping the clean feel.

Let's talk briefly about colour on colour- that is a coloured item on coloured background. You need to pay a bit more attention here, because the colours you use will have an impact on the item.
I've only just started investigating colour and already I can see what a huge difference it makes. But I've also quickly learned that the right colour is crucial to representing the item in it's best light.

Here's there's a riot of colour! the earrings are coloured, the backgrounds are all kinds of crazy rainbow- it's too much. For this to be a showcase of the earrings it needs to tone down.

Above you can see the earrings are now showcased well- they're on a pale (contrasting) background which makes their dark colours stand out, and the yellow and red either side echo the colours in the beads.

Above, the camera is angled so the red board isn't seen, and the yellow is bringing the gold tones forward.

In the image below, the red board is dominant, and the earrings appear more rich and deep.It might seem pedantic but it's a nice little tip that will help you 'see' what's the best background for your item.

Using 3 -5 different backgrounds will 'break up' the monotony of your shop front and keep things interesting. You can see in my shop that I have largely the same backdrop, but I've changed around the stack and made some pages more dominant in some shots. This makes things cohesive and interesting at the same time.

So- in the next couple of days I want you to wander around your house/studio and find a bunch of things you might like to use for backgrounds. Keep in mind your target market and shop's brand image; choose light, dark, and patterned things. (And colour too if you're this way inclined.) Don't just look at book pages, think about trays, picture frame backs, the tops of old boxes, textile pieces, linoleum offcuts, wallpaper, etc. Spend time arranging them against each other (remember the bridal theory) and take some photos- things look different in camera so don't trust your observing eye to see all.

When you've found the backgrounds you like, take an item of yours and try shooting it against them. If you have a blog it would be really great to blog it- it helps pass the knowledge along, and don't forget to give me a link so I can come along and give you any extra advice you might need. If you don't have a blog or you'd prefer a more private approach, feel free to email me from this blog's address (see my profile) and I'll help out.

Yes, it's going to take time to get this right, and time is something precious to many of us. But we all know quality takes time and practice makes perfect. There really is no cheating on this stuff. Well actually learning all this from me is kind of cheating! I'm happy to pass on what I know, and I've learned a few things myself just from doing this. It's taken me over a week to compile all this, but the driving force is to help you become better photographers and online merchants.

Read (or re-read!) the original post for more tips on using light and dark colored backgrounds along with Penny's tips for creating opulent textures and working with patterns.

You can visit Sparrow Salvage at the following links:

Shop:  Click here
Blog:  Click here