Bon Voyage Alaska!

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Marjorie Glacier in Glacier Bay, Alaska

Debbie Macomber and I yarn shopping in Vancouver, BC

Debbie Macomber & I yarn shopping in Vancouver, BC

I am one lucky ducky! Just returned from teaching jewelry making on the 1st Debbie Macomber Alaskan Stitch & Sail cruise! There were 200 knitty buddies, food 24-7, icy blue glaciers and so much more. I knew Alaskan cruises rocked but I seriously had no idea those glaciers would literally take my breath away with their beauty. I was not prepared for the icy blue cast they contained and I’m chompin’ at the bit to make an entire jewelry line inspired by these quickly disappearing wonders!

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Leaving the Seattle port with my knitty pal Pennee!

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Nothing like soaking onboard with that background, huh?!

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Had excellent food on one of our stops in Juneau, still makes my mouth water!

The stunning scenery 24-7 included whales (of course I didn’t get any good pics, those guys are sooooo fast), sea lions, eagles and my all time fave- porpoises!

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Of course my fave part of the cruise was my classes. I had wonderful students from all over the country, most whom had never EVER made jewelry, but fearlessly dove into this new territory with me as their tour guide! Many converts were made on that ship and I’m happy to take full responsibility! Since most of the Debbie cruisers were fiberholics, I thought it best to show them how to make jewelry that would be useful for knitted and crochet pieces. So we made Kanzashi flowers and buttons!

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And the all time fave class was making a custom keepsake charm bracelet! I brought my bead bar and let them choose their own beads and baubles (the most fun part if you ask me). I had a lot of charms representing characters and special moments in many of Debbie’s books so it was delightful to watch everyone select pieces from their fave Debbie novels. Thanks to my fave sponsors, I had FAB gifts for the swag bags and got to introduce the fiber crowd to some rockin’ jewelry supply companies! YAY Swarovski, Artbeads.com, TierraCast, Clover, Nunn Design! IMG_5693

We hit every yarn shop in each port along the way and even found some delightful beads at The Hive!

The Hive in Ketchican

The Hive in Ketchican

Alaska is a must on everyone’s bucket list in my opinion. Filled with breathtaking beauty, catch these glaciers before they all melt away. This was a spectacular trip and I am thankful to Debbie Macomber for inviting me!

The perfect day!

The perfect day!

Surviving Your First Bead Show

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Surviving Your First Bead Show

by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer, Instructor and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS Ambassador,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Whether you’re attending The Bead and Button® Show in Wisconsin (the biggest retail bead show in the world) or one in your local scene, there are some survival tactics directly from bead veterans I’d like to share with you. Preparation is key to survival! Like kids in a candy store, the sensory overload of a bead show can traumatize even the best of the beadaholics. So, if you’re a holiday jewelry maker (making jewelry for gift giving), a die-hardseed beader, or you sell your jewelry as a business, you’re sure to find treasures and expand your jewelry-making knowledge at a show!

Walk

It’s a close run between comfy shoes and protein bars as to which one is the second most important thing to bring to a bead show. The first is the ker-ching my beady friends! Bring an empty credit card and lots of cash. Some vendors don’t take credit cards and some vendors will make you a better deal if you pay cash (be sure to ask as it can’t hurt!). As far as shoes go, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in this area having worked and walked many huge trade shows, and crocs are the best hands down! Of course they’re not the most fashionable so you’ll want to snazz them up a bit with a clip-on embellishment. Make your own with resincrystals and seed beads or convert old brooches and pendants into shoe clips by gluing them onto the pad of clip-on earrings. Embellishing your shoes, what could be beadier? Check out these great design ideas.

Haul It 

Collapsible purses and totes are a must for your shopping adventure. Keep one of these in your purse and you’ll be happy to pull it out when you’ve slipped so many bags of beadalicious goodies in your purse and the handles are moaning and groaning as much as your feet are! You can bring rolling totes into some shows and they’re a saving grace–be sure to check ahead of time so you aren’t stuck schlepping the tote back to the car.

Ouch

Pain management is a popular topic although not commonly discussed among bead show attendees until it’s too late! And then, sadly, your feet prevent you from doing even more damage to your pocketbook. Prevent this global bead shopping malaise by popping an Advil® or aspirin before entering the bead show (or get roller skates). Either way, you can cover more ground comfortably.

Yum

Some shows offer the tastiest nibbles around but you can’t bet on it, so throw a few protein bars and a bottle of water in your purse, just in case. You can usually find chocolate and coffee readily available. They know you’ll need a jolt or two! Before opening any of your bring-along treats, be sure to check house rules–sometimes you need to enjoy your own fare outside or out of show limits.

Learn

Always be sure to check out the classes before you go. Many times they’re sold out and you don’t want to miss out on a great learning experience! Go to the show’s website and see the class line up. They may have demos going on as well, so take a peek at the schedule. If you want to get really organized for your bead show adventure, take a look at the vendor list (if posted) and make a list of all your “must see” vendors and boothsbefore stepping foot in the bead show zone. If you don’t, you will surely get sucked into the delightful frenzy only rows and rows of vials of beads can provoke and you might just forget what you were looking for.

Read

Show programs are super important so don’t just buzz by them as another thing to carry. Circle all your “must see” booths then keep the map handy as a reminder. Write down the numbers of the booths you want to return to. Keep it handy as you’ll most likely fall in love with some beady goodies and want to return to that booth. You’ll think there’s no doubt you’ll remember this booth (especially if it’s early in your shopping day), then by the end of the day there will be dozens of booths to return to and you have NO idea where they are since your eyes are spinning in spirals like Wile E Coyote when the Road Runner bonks him on the head! You’ll also be glad to have this program two months later when that strand of beads that was the only blue you’ve ever seen in those shades haunts you and you wish you’d bought it at the show but can’t remember the booth name and you simply must have it … trust me on this one!

Simplify

Don’t forget, once you leave the show these pretties need a happy home. Here’s a great article on organizing your seed beads. Nothing is more fun than sorting out your beloved purchases afterwards and fondling each and every beady delight, except buying more of course!

 

 

What bead shows will you be attending this year? Have any tips to share with us?

Crystal Jewelry Inspirations Blog Hop

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What an honor to be one of the contributors to this FAB book that just came out! My fellow Swarovski Ambassadors and I designed some of the most wonderfully creative pieces I’ve ever seen. Karin Von Voohees was the “lucky” editor to corral this blingy bunch of talent and produce this book. One my fave parts is that each project comes with all the steps you need to make it yourself!

Below is a list of all the Ambassadors in the book so you can “hop” on over to their blogs.

LOVE this book and so will you!

Crystal Jewelry Inspirations Blog Hop

Monday, 1/14 June Beach Beach Haus Designs www.beachhausdesigns.blogspot.com
Lilian Chen Gold Gatsby Design www.liliangoldgatsby.blogspot.com
Fernando daSilva Modern Expressions www.modern-expressions.blogspot.com
Marcia DeCoster Mad Designs www.maddesignsbeads.blogspot.com
Stephanie Dixon The Dixon Chick www.thedixonchick.blogspot.com
Tuesday, 1/15
Katie Hacker Katie’s Beading Blog www.katiehacker.blogspot.com
Monica Han CYS Dreambeads www.cysdreambeads.blogspot.com
Wednesday,1/16
Diane Hertzler Diane Hertzler Beading Experiences www.dianehertzler.blogspot.com
Val Hirata CBY Sparkle www.cbysparkle.com/blog
Jamie Hogsett Jamie Hogsett www.jamiehogsett.blogspot.com
Tamara Honoman Artfully Inspired www.thonaman.com/Tams_blog_dir/blogs/index.php
Thursday, 1/17 Lisa Pavelka Lisa Pavelka’s Creative Musings www.lisapavelka.typepad.com
Margot Potter Margot Potter www.margotpottertheimpatientcrafter.blogspot.com
Pat Riesenburger Urban Stitch Studio www.urbanstitchstudio.blogspot.com
Leslie Rogalski Sleepless Beader www.sleeplessbeader.blogspot.com
Nadia Sanchez Ramos Fou Fou Chat by the Terror Sisters www.foufouchat.blogspot.com
Renata Sanchez Ramos Fou Fou Chat by the Terror Sisters www.foufouchat.blogspot.com
Debra Saucier Debra Saucier As The Crystal Turns www.debrasaucier.blogspot.com
Friday, 1/18 Brenda Schweder Brenda Schweder www.BrendaSchweder.com
Debbi Simon Debbie Simon www.debbisimon.blogspot.com
Kim St. Jean Studio St. Jean www.kimstjean.blogspot.com
Laura Timmons Therabeading www.therabeading.blogspot.com
Kristal Wick Kristal Wick www.kristalwick.wordpress.com
Diane Whiting Sparkles and Smiles www.sparklesandsmiles.blogspot.com

Newbie-itis

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by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer, Instructor and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS Ambassador,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Everyone gets stuck in a creative rut from time to time. After avoiding ANY bead stitching for years (I seriously was hauled down that path kicking and screaming the whole way), I wound up falling in love with the almighty peyote stitch. And now I spend every moment (and penny) on those little-orbs-of-delight; seed beads. I simply could not stop making jewelry with that stitch for about a year straight. I loved being in the “zone,” feeling that same Utopian bliss runners claim with their “runners high” and knitters “zen out” with. Stitching was as soothing as chocolate (well, almost), and I saw no reason whatsoever to alter from the path and learn something new. I could be happy forevermore with this one simple stitch … until once again, hauled down another path only screaming this time (no kicking) to meet Mr. Tubular Herringbone. ARGGGGG! Another new addictive stitch my fingers now itch for!

Becoming a “newbie” and learning something new; anything out of our comfort zone, is an important part of our creative process. Sure it’s frustrating; heck I lost count as to how many times I tore out those stitches and started over again. Another thing … what’s up with the difficulty in starting ANY stitch? The first 3-5 rows are brutal! They never look right and are darn near impossible to get on the first try until you’ve stitched for millenniums! But I found perseverance to be the key to these stitches which leads to a long and deeply satisfying beady relationship.

As adults we get so accustomed to “knowing” things that become our comfort zone. We know our job, creative outlets, foods, etc. But that can lead to complacency and boredom. Also, possibly a false sense of self; we are what we know. I ask you, aren’t the best joys on this path called life the unknown surprises? The discovery of a new passion; the excitement of exploring the beginning of something precious and sacred. There’s only one way to do this, by letting go of our adult “knowing-ness,” sending our ego on a vacation, embracing our inner five-year old and diving in with wonder. This, my dear beady peeps, is what I call “newbie-itis.”

The Art of Being a Newbie 

Remember way back (way, waaaaaaay back for some of us) in grade school, how excited we were to learn something new? We weren’t old enough to be intimidated yet, to feel the self-doubt of “not-enoughness,” which is now part of our daily routine just like brushing. We didn’t compare ourselves to every kid in class and judge how good we were. We just dove in with thrilling abandon; failure was not a word in our vocabulary yet. Ahhhhh, how gratifying! I invite you to slow down, take a few deep breaths and tap into that thrilling feeling. Whether it’s a new bead stitch, incorporating mixed media into your artistic toolbox, or starting your own jewelry-making business; ask yourself, what do I want to learn? What gives me that spark of desire? What new path do I wish to travel at this moment in my life? Turn off the chatter in your mind and explore, dip a toe in the water …

Let go and dive deeply!

Memories out of Memory Wire

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Design Idea C404
Memories Out of Memory Wire
Memory Wire
by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer, Instructor and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS Ambassador, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

My dear dad died of colon cancer a few years back. I adored him and still miss him every day. It was a slow painful battle and he charged into the next realm on that white horse quite bravely, with loved ones at his side to say good-bye. He had many friends and will be forever remembered for his sense of humor, never-give-up attitude and his nickname “The Whistler.” No, he didn’t whistle birdcalls but happy songs and little ditties. He whistled his whole life and you could hear his whistling coming before he turned the corner. When my dad entered a room, it quickly turned into a party and he sure knew how to enjoy life!

His passion, enthusiasm, perseverance and strength certainly shaped my character and the way I live my life. To pay tribute to him on Father’s Day, I wanted to design a piece that commemorates the love and admiration we all feel toward him. And since my favorite expression is through creativity (can you all relate?), I decided to design a token to wear and share with each of his loved ones. As I was rifling through my studio for that perfect starting point, I ran across some memory wire. Hmmmmmmmm, how appropriate–using memory wire to make a memorial piece of jewelry? Ahhhh, yes, how perfect! I wanted to create a piece filled with meaning, yet not so over the top that it couldn’t be worn frequently. I HAD to incorporate Swarovski crystals as they’re my fave and I wanted this piece to bring some light to the topic, so what better for that than a splash of bling? I love using the “awareness” colors in my jewelry designs supporting a cause. In this case, the color is blue to show support for colon cancer. The end result was a blue memory wire bracelet I was able to gift to each of his siblings and loved ones.

In addition to honoring him and his extraordinary life, the process of making these bracelets also turned out to be quite healing for me. You know we all have our personal paths to follow during our lifetimes and although we gratefully cross others’ paths for a while, we’re committed to our own path. And if you’ve ever watched a loved one go through a painful experience, you know the feeling of helplessness that just doesn’t seem to go away. In channeling that feeling through my jewelry creations and fondly remembering my dad, those bracelets hugged my heart and I was able to release that helpless feeling. I had actually “done” something meaningful and tangible to remember a beloved’s life, his impact on me, and more importantly was then able to share with others.

There were tears and laughter as I gifted my “Tom Wick” bracelets, and we are all filled with bittersweet memories every time we wrap that bracelet around our wrist; like a warm hug! So I’d like to share with all my beady peeps my simple recipe for a warm hug, around the wrist. Create these sweet bracelets to honor a loved one going through a tough battle at this time, or a beloved who has passed. Make them together as a group experience or for your own healing. Either way, your heart will feel that hug!

Tom Wick Memory Wire Bracelet

Design Idea C404, Design Idea C405 and Design Idea C406
  1. Select the awareness color from the”Awareness Ribbon Color and Cause Guide”you will be working with.
  2. Use memory wire cutters to cut the memory wire to fit your wrist. I like a wrap and a half for my bracelets.
  3. Use round-nose pliers to form a small loop on the end of the memory wire.
  4. Lay out your design.
  5. String all the beads onto your memory wire then form a simple loop on the 2nd end to finish.

Tip: You can use the smaller memory wire to make key chains or wine glass charms.

Design with …

Additional Resources …

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article “Memories Out of Memory Wire,” as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

“I only wish there was a color for thanking someone for knowing just the right thing to do. My brother passed away 3 years ago and now I can make memory bracelets for all of my family in memory of him. Tim suffered quite a bit and it took a toll on all of us, young and old. He is deeply missed.

If there were colors that referred to someone with the caring and thoughtfulness of Kristal Wick, rest assured I would be the first to make bracelets to honor her.

Please pass this message along to her that Her Dad along with her Mother, I assume, have raised one beautiful human being. Sincerely,”
– Susie

“What a wonderful story and creative idea to remember a loved one by. I also have recently lost a loved one, my son. He struggled through life with a disability, his journey wasn’t at all easy for him and all those around him, supporting him through his struggles. The idea of creating some jewellery from memory wire, a medium I haven’t worked with yet, is one I will follow up on. Thanks for the ideas. Keep them coming. Regards”
– Anne

“Thank you for the wonderful idea, of the memory bracelet, my father passed away a year ago very suddenly. I had been looking for something to make to remind me of dad. This is perfect. I plan to make one for each of my close relatives that have passed away in honor of them.”
– Barbara

“Wonderful information and ideas.”
– Anni

“What a wonderful article. You’ve given me food for thought. Love the design–and the way you honor your father in your work.

I lost a dear friend many years ago to colon cancer, and on my birthday, no less. I think I might make a bracelet for her and also for my friend Filomena who left half as long ago, succumbing to breast cancer. What a wonderful memorial! You rock!”
– Charlene

“K Wick’s story and idea touched my heart–the hug to wear around your wrist will accompany any such bracelet I may gift to my loved ones! Thank you!”
– Sheila

“Kristal Wick writes beautifully. She always speaks truth to which everyone can relate. I look forward to reading her articles, and seeing her beautiful beadwork.”
– Julie

I loved this! Not only was it nice to read about how Kristal shared her memories of her dad, but it showed me that I can make memory “treasures” for relatives and friends at certain times of their lives. What a nice way to remember someone.

Thank you very much for this and for the link to the list of Ribbon Colors along with their meanings. Just yesterday my husband was asking me what other colors there were besides pink and yellow. This will give him a much better explanation than mine. Thank you!”
– Ann

“I love this article, it brings back Memories of my Mother who has been gone 26yrs this month (seems like yesterday). I now have a way to take that sorrow and turn it in to joy. I will make for my Brother, my Cousins and myself something with Memory Wire/Beads to Rejoice in her Memory. Thank You so much for sharing your Memories and Ideas. In going through my treasures, I find I have almost everything I need. It gives me a reason to go Bead shopping …😀 I get a lot of my Beads/Supplies from Fire Mountain Gems … Your Friend”
– Glenda

How did you like this resource? Your feedback helps us provide resources that matter to you most.

Angels Among Us

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Angels Among Us: Design Idea 890H

by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer, Instructor and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS Ambassador
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
Recently, I found out one of my friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wanted to express my sympathy, support and love by creating a symbolic piece of jewelry to bring a smile whenever she gazed upon it. I perused the Gallery of Designs looking for inspiration and fell in love with the Awareness Angel Earrings; so simple and pretty with a splash of pink bling, just like my friend. As I was pondering my friend’s situation and what symbol to use in her creation, I immediately envisioned angels as a sign of strength and hope. Just gazing upon one gives my heart a gentle hug and I wished that for her!The origin of angels began long ago and they’ve been depicted in great art work from Leonardo de Vinci in the 1400s and Raphael in the 1500s to the famous sculpture, David by Michelangelo who is quoted saying, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” There is even an Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy where you can learn to paint angels like the masters.Angel IntrigueWhat is behind this long-standing angel popularity? I wondered. Personally I have made charm bracelets that incorporate wings with other relevant items to symbolize pet angels, baby angels and adult angels. Each of us has our own interpretation and meaning of angels. Whether they’re of a religious nature, healing or otherwise, we’ve long enjoyed the thought of angels flitting about!Songs about angels are also part of our culture’s angel intrigue. From Sarah McLachlan’s famous song, Angel to Train’s mega hit Calling All Angels; they’re both perfect examples of modern interpretations of the meaning and importance of angels in our lives:

“I need a sign to let me know you’re here. All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere. I need to know that things are gonna look up. ‘Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup.

When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head. When you feel the world shake from the words that are said.

I need a sign to let me know you’re here, ‘Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear. I want a reason for the way things have to be. I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me

And I’m calling all angels I’m calling all you angels.”

“Calling All Angels” by Train

I believe angels give us hope, bring comfort and instill faith in those things unseen, yet deeply believed in. Whether it’s a baby cherub angel or a guardian angel creating a physical symbol such as a piece of jewelry,bookmark or backpack dangle can be a meaningful reminder for a loved one experiencing a difficult path or for your little one getting on the school bus.

Fire Mountain Gems Celebrating 2012 as the Year of Angels

I invite you to start a “stitching bee.” The concept for a stitching bee is similar to “quilting bees” in which a gathering of friends come together to work on creating a quilt, usually to commemorate a special event with significant meaning. A stitching bee could be done to commemorate an event or for when a friend needs a little support, such as mine did. To start your own bee, gather some beady friends and all take turns working on a design. Each of you can surround those tiny beads with wishes of joy and well being, bringing comfort to a dear one as well as a host of angels to their side.

“No.” is a complete sentence

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by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer, Instructor and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS Ambassador,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
I blurted this out one day while venting to a beady buddy about a seed bead deadline I surely could not meet in this lifetime! The requester kept pushing me, then looked at me in disappointment expecting a legitimate reason for saying, “No.” As I relayed this situation to my friend I said, “NO is a complete sentence,” and she ROTFLOL (Rolled On The Floor Laughing Out Loud) and sputtered, “that’s brilliant!” This seemed to me common sense, but as I looked back on scenes from my past realizing just how long it took me to say that dreaded word “NO” (minus the guilt), I realized common sense is not so common.Minnesota Nice 

I was raised in a household where we did whatever it took to keep mom happy, tied in with the Midwestern “Minnesota-Nice” credo and a splash of guilt (over nearly everything), and you end up barely able to spell the word NO much less say it out loud! I was labeled as the “people pleaser” in my family with the impossible task of keeping peace, and took that role very seriously. “Sure, youbetcha I’ll bring more Jello salad and dessert bars to the party; Okay-Dokay a ride to the airport at 3am-no problem; Oh, donchaknow, wedding jewelry for your entire wedding party of 18 by next weekend-I’m on it!” I’m sure I’m not alone here and many of you know this drill …

Most things I agreed to were not a burden and I thoroughly enjoy helping folks out but as I looked back, I realized NO wasn’t even considered an option. And in the rare cases when I did say NO, due to a conflict or the request was simply humanly impossible, I was compelled to spend countless moments justifying why I said no. There had to be enough sufficient reason(s) to utter N-O without leaving the requestor feeling rejected, and end up disappointing them! ZOIKES! That’s the true OS (Operating System) beneath this inability to spit out two simple letters: N-O. They might not like me!

I simply could not live with someone disliking me! WOW! What a tough ride this lifetime would be, volleying for this unrealistic position. Filled with insecurity and a deep, dark well of “not-good-enough-itis” I put everyone else’s needs ahead of mine and after years of numerous attempts to shift this undesirable behavior, I’ve finally arrived … well on my good days! I give myself permission to actually think before agreeing to EVERYTHING and tap into my inner “worthiness” to see how the request feels in my gut (imagine that). I ask myself, is it in alignment with my values, core beliefs and intention for a win-win situation? Am I burning the candle at both ends which ultimately ends up with bailing out ANYWAY when the deadline is not met, or I’m sick in bed with the flu due to working 18-hour days trying to please everyone AGAIN … well, you get the picture.

“NO”-Your New BFF 

Just by being here on the planet we all have the basic right to say NO without any explanation. I invite you to sit with that for a moment … how does it feel? Anything like: panic, shakiness, lack of breath or hyperventilating? If so, you may need to look at this topic, my dear, dig deeply and make friends with NO. You’ll feel a sense of strength and power by standing your ground and embracing some boundaries. Besides, saying NO more frequently will free you to be able to say “YES” to more beading (I offered this last bit as a last ditch effort to reach you, I kind of apologize for hitting below the belt but I knew that would reach you). We need to look at our precious 24 hours and decide what makes us feel good, productive and empowered. Toss out the guilt, obligation and need to please-itis and pick up your beading needle, my beady peep. You need time for YOU! And when the kids or hubby comes to you while you’re winding down and beading a puppy pattern or peyote at 10pm and says, “can you make me a sandwich?” try saying NO. It’s a complete sentence …

South Beach Flavors

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On a recent b-day trip to play in paradise with a buddy, we spent four days in South Beach, Florida. WOW! What a trip for this Denver-based, Midwestern-sure-ya-youbetcha-home-grown type of gal. I’d heard this was where “the beautiful people” go to see and be seen; what, with a polo field set up right on the beach, Swarovski dripping everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE, and $2,400 bottles of champagne on the beach menu, I was in another country! The art deco influences seeped into every nook and cranny which made it difficult for me to concentrate on anything else but jewelry designs. Walking through the fancy hotels inspired some jewelry-making combinations I’d like to share with you. Many of them based on my beloved SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS which are alive and well in South Beach!

We took an art deco walking tour of the area which included all the fun filming sites for the TV show Miami Vice, Flipper, The Golden Girls, Meet the Fockers, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and the list goes on and on. We also passed by the sadly famous murder scene of Gianni Versace in 1997 outside his home on Ocean Ave.

 

The Carlyle South Beach, where Robin Williams and Nathan Lane’s brilliant movie The Bird Cage was filmed, had the most beautiful bar surrounded with crystal strands dangling everywhere and I couldn’t help but visualize a fabulous crystal necklace with the strands hanging down the front and the back of the neck, to adorn a low dipping open back gown. The neck portion would be a chain mail choker with Swarovski crystals linked together and hanging down from the choker using components such as crystal AB chessboard beadscrystal twist beads,crystal helix beads and colorful niobium jumprings, pink and mint green of course!

 

We took a leisurely walk through the Zen-like palace that was the Setaj hotel. Simplicity and minimalist decor inspired by the beauty of nature with serene floating pools everywhere, sleek granite and subtle taupe colors (a calming breath of fresh air in the midst of the constant bombardment of South beach colors) with simple splashes of carefully placed oranges here and there. A great jewelry piece inspired by this experience could be a simple necklace, bracelet or keychain with a token reminder to chill out such as a Chinese symbol for peace or a Buddha charm with White Lotus™ freshwater pearlssage potato, a touch ofTahitian and a dash of the new rose peach sparkle.

 

The Fontainebleau lobby was a spectacular sight with triple Swarovski chandeliers following that classic design rule of creating in odd numbers, particularly 3s for maximum design interest just like these art deco inspired beauties:

Great design ideas are all around you and it’s fun to tap into the local flavor while traveling. Snap quick pictures of color combinations you like, shapes and elements that you can interpret into your jewelry designs when you’re back in the studio. Have fun!

WHY WE BEAD

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I was born with 6 fingers instead of 10. It’s no secret–you can see this in my DVDs and TV segments. You can see when I teach a class, and you can certainly see it in person when you’re around me. But you’d never know it when you see my jewelry or read my articles, books and blogs. Each and every piece of jewelry I create takes me longer than someone with 10 fingers and is filled with challenges each step of the way, from simply holding the tools to wrapping a nice tight loop or closing a jumpring perfectly. But you’d never know that … Why? Because it’s my passion and I just go for it!

“Failure” has been a part of my daily existence since birth, if you choose to look at it that way. I couldn’t tie my own shoes, I couldn’t open a jar of olives, I couldn’t blow dry my hair, all simple tasks most of us take for granted. Think of how much you use all your fingers when creating jewelry–try it with 6! My folks were extraordinary. They saw this kids’ determination and had a prosthetic post made for me when I was 5 so I could actually grasp onto things like a jump rope. My world has been whirling non-stop ever since. As a kid I was sure I must have traded in a few fingers for an extra dose of creative talent, and always thought it was worth it. Thankfully, I was raised in a home where all things were possible, and if I wanted to achieve something, I was encouraged. Well, maybe not ALL things are possible mind you, I’m still working on the concert pianist career and it’s looking rather doubtful! But at least I wasn’t afraid to try.

If I Can Do It, You Can Do It
This has been the theme of my life and it’s certainly reflected in my jewelry designs. I’m not afraid to try new colors, different techniques and explore the edges of the box from a design perspective. I ski, type, and play the guitar! I invite you to join me. If I can do it, you can do it! Jump in with both feet and try something new. Abandon all fears of failure and “not good enough-ness.” Leave the critics outside your studio door. The most important aspects of any creative endeavor are those precious moments of actually being in the passionate flow of pure unedited joy; not the end result and if your wrapped loops are perfect. No matter our age, weight, economic status, education, even physicality, everyone has equal access to their creative flow and the endless possibilities it presents every moment! This is the gift of life and the essence of who we really are.

Embracing Our Differences
One of my fave adventures is volunteering at a children’s hospital. Those little angels are a delight to be around and it’s a privilege sharing a song or making a bracelet and showing them it’s OK to be different and reach for your dreams. If I can make pretty jewelry with 6 fingers, they can do incredible things with their lives too, no matter what challenges they’re facing. Whether it’s coloring, writing, baking, beading or any other heart’s desire, I love to encourage them with my credibility; you see, I’m one of their tribe, someone who’s ‘special’ just like them. Different than everyone else … but then, aren’t we all, in one way or another?

So, That’s Why I Bead
To connect with my inner creative flow and feel good! To create beauty even if it’s simply beautifying an earlobe! To challenge myself and raise my personal bar and see if I can do it. To inspire others and most importantly, it’s fun!

So, share with me, why do you bead?

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article “Why We Bead,” as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

“I am a special education teacher who loves jewelry design, and I loved this inspirational story by Kristal Wick. I will be reading it to my classes.

Over the years, I have learned to love beading in groups just because of this shared circle of love and support for each other.

Kristal deserves our kudos and love!”
– Nancy

“great article”
– Deanna

“Dear Kristal,
Your story is very enlightening. It was very kind of you to tell the story so others can learn to overcome some of the hardships they have. You are in inspiration to me even though I don’t have physical troubles but “I can’t do it” thoughts. Thanks for all the good things you show us.”
– Arleen“I am 61, and my hands shake, especially under pressure or when I am tired. This has impacted my ability/enthusiasm for beading. I wasn’t to thank you so much for your wonderful story–you have encouraged me to get back in there and try again–“If she can do it, I can do it!” But, I do want to find items that will more securely hold onto my work to help me, Do you have such things?”
– Carol“I too have a bodily “challenge.” I have a birth injury. As I was being delivered, I got stuck. In the process of freeing me to be delivered, the doctors ripped the nerve that connects my shoulder to my neck and I have Klumky’s Palsy. I have partial use of my right arm, gross motor in my hand and no feeling in part of my hand and arm. It is also visibly shorter and smaller than my left arm.

I too had amazing parents that never treated me as handicapped but got me the appropriate physical therapy and were diligent with me. So instead of being right handed, I am left handed, but I do things in a right handed way!

I too am artsy. My challenge has not interfered in my life. I have played violin and cello, and sewn and designed. Now I knit, not with a machine but with sticks, and I make jewelry! I have even taught beaded kumihimo!!

So to those who use their disability as an excuse, I have no sympathy for you. But to those who have challenges and don’t let them deter them from accomplishing their goals, just have their own “rhythm” of meeting them, I say BRAVO!”
– Susan“Awesome story. Thanks for sharing. I am inspired by the fact you enjoy sharing with children in the hospital setting. I am coming to beading through the back door. I love to paint. I love color. I make fused glass. I needed a necklace for the glass pendant. Beads are so colorful. Yesterday I made my first beaded bead with Fireline. Loved it. Again, thanks for sharing,”
– Jann“An amazing inspiration. Thank you.”
– Mary“I hope you are a born again christian because you have such a testimony.”
– Thomas“Thank you for your open life. You are indeed a delight. I’m sending this on to my daughter Laurina who is a “Life Coach” as someone to meet. Her youngest lives in a home for the disable. I have tried to get her to try some of the beading but, she shakes a lot. I’m going to try her again in the future. Thank you again.”
– Patricia“I enjoyed the article. It’s good to be reminded that we all have challenges that must be overcome and sometimes hearing from someone with an obvious challenge who overcomes it with grace and humor helps remind us that our challenges can be overcome too even though not as visible. Thanks.”
– Lora“Kristal Wick’s–“Why we bead” was wonderful. I love jewelry making–I.e. all the orders I place with you. I’m not handicapped, but these stories are nice and I LOVE her face. It’s open, happy, contented–as she should be. What a blessing she has (had?) such great parents.”
– James“This was awesome. It was something I particularly needed to read at the moment. No matter how things are going, there is always the peace and excitement of creating. Thank You”
– KF“Greetings:
I found this article incredibly interesting and encouraging. However, I would like to have seen some of her work connected to the article also.”
– Margaret“LOVED this positive approach to life and hobbies! Thanks for sharing.”
– Dorothy“Bravo!!”
– Mary“I love the article by Kristal Wick! What a woman and what an inspiration to anyone who says “I can’t”!!

My kids will tell you they never got by with saying “I can’t” because I always replied, “Can’t never tried!”

Too many people miss so much in life because they think they can’t do something. Kristal’s wisdom should be printed and shared around the world and in every school!!!

Kristal, you are one of my heroes!!!”
– Ingrid“This is such an inspirational story and it almost makes me feel guilty for not spending more time in my studio. My gray mood has kept me out of there for quite some time.

Message to Kristal: you have always made me smile whether written word or on TV. Your enthusiasm and optimism is exciting and contagious. I think I noticed the cool prosthetic the first few times I saw you on TV but after that I just kind of forgot about it because YOU shine through. Earlier this year I had surgery on my left arm and I couldn’t use it for several months…..the use of my left hand and fingers were very limited and I had a lot of nerve pain if I tried too much (like holding my pliers or paper or fabric or picking up and holding beads). I didn’t realize just how much I used my left hand (non-dominant) until then. I’m so glad that you had supportive parents and weren’t taught that you “can’t”. Love your fabric beads and all that glam…..*hugs* from Houston, TX.”
– D.J.“Kristal Wick, you are an inspiration to all of us. You are exactly what the world needs, someone who is not afraid to give it their best shot and challenge themselves. Sincerely,”
– Theresa“I have always worked with some craft or other, but I started making earring from buttons several years back because I could not find the colors I wanted to go with my clothes.

This past year I had Knee surgery and my therapist wanted to know why I didn’t make other things, so I tried and I am hooked. I make necklace’s, earrings and bracelets.

Thanks for all your help with your suggestions.”
– Dianne“Absolutely great post, Kristal. I will forward it to others. Best,”
– Susan“Just wanted to let you know that I thought Kristal’s story was amazing! Her article is such a heartwarming and inspiring story! Best Regards,”
– Christy“Beautiful people do beautiful things. It sounds like Kristal has the right attitude about life and is a good example to show the “I can’t do it” crowd! I’ve looked at some of her designs and she’s very talented. We need more people to realize that if you want to do something, you’ll figure out a way!”
– Karen“Thank you Kristal for sharing this. Very inspiring. Kudo’s to FMG for having you write this. Keep these coming.”
– Ashley“You asked, why do I bead?

I bead because I fell in love with the challenge of it the first time I saw a pattern. I had been stringing for a couple of years before I started beading. I thoroughly enjoyed stringing and was learning new things about it every year, but the first time I beaded I was hooked. I find that beading calms me and gives me a good feeling about myself. I feel like I can do anything I really want to do.

I crochet with wire and beads. I teach the crocheted bracelet at a local bead store here in Dallas,Texas. I enjoy teaching. My sister comes once a year to visit me from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Every time she visits I teach her a new pattern. I’d say it’s my first love. Thank You,”
– Ruth“Loved Kristal’s story. She missed out on another gift. She is a very good writer. Her story is inspirational. Yours Truly,”
– Ora“Hello Kristal,
I am inspired by your article. Although I did not have the difficulty of your challenge, I too was blessed with a family that taught me that, if I worked hard, the possibilities were endless. I bead as a form of relaxation and an outlet to let me be creative. My career path is as a nurse. In my earlier years, I was a certified emergency nurse and it was a challenging career with much stress, but yet there were rewards to make up for the sad moments. I used to paint or sketch but there was no time for any creativity with work and raising a family.

Flash forward: I am now a director of three departments associated with physician quality. Again, there is stress and very long hours. But my family is grown and my husband and I have time together in the evenings. I can bead and he can watch sports or read. Beading helps me relax and let go of the day. I enjoy thinking of how to make beads flow or stand out. No time for work thoughts when I am doing this and I love it. I can try something new and see what happens. My staff loves it too because it is their Christmas present or birthday present. Perhaps down the road it will get old for them, but I don’t think it will get old for me. I love looking through the beads on line and wondering what to order or what bargains I can find. Thanks for asking,”
– Gail“That was an awesome article. Thank you. It was very inspirational!”
– Jessica“What an uplifting and encouraging article–thanks for sharing!!!”
– Nita“This was a fantastic article. I rarely comment on articles sent to me but this is the exception. Truly inspiring and should be read by any artist. Painter, writer whatever field Kristals words are an inspiration to all. Bravo. Thank you”
– Lisa“Hello! I just wanted to offer some feedback…

This was the first newsletter I’ve received, and I was pleasantly surprised at Kristal’s article. Thank you for selecting an inspirational piece rather than a technical one (which is often an excuse to push products). Based on this first newsletter, I look forward to upcoming ones and will make sure to open and read them!”
– Jennifer“Hey Kristal
Had no idea you had unique hands I have rheumatoid arthritis with no deformities. Your newsletter article is extremely inspiring”
– Carla“This article was very inspiring to me! I have always admired Kristal Wick’s work, but was unaware that she had six fingers. Unfortunately I’m unable to get the TV show in my area, but you certainly can’t tell that from her jewelry. I love making jewelry, but have some chronic conditions that make it difficult for me to use my tools for long periods of time, or if I do I pay for it the next day. It’s been a few months since I’ve really sat down to create anything. Kristal’s article encourages me to keep trying and not give up on my passion, even if it takes me longer than the average person.

Thank you for the article, and thank you to Kristal for not being afraid to reach for her dreams.”
– Susan“Kristal,
Thank you for sharing your story. I am not very “creative” at heart; in fact I probably spend more time oohing and aahing over magazines full of others creations than I do creating my jewelry.

You are an inspiration. I’m getting up now to go create something, definitely with crystals in your honor. Many blessings,”
– Donna“Hi. I think the chief reason I bead is I grew up with a beader. My mother was an incredibly creative woman and did repair and new vestments for the Roman Catholic Church she worked for back in the 1950s and 60s. I only wish I was half as skillful. Growing up with beads, I remember the fascination of her fine beads (size 15) and equally fine needles. She made incredible multidimensional roses with her needle and some sort of inner knowing.

I picked up more than one beading needle off the floor before I ever did any work myself!

Also, being exposed to real beading art inspired me to want to create beauty of my own. Rosaries still fascinate me, also. My mother’s rosary, given to her for the creation of a set of vestments, lays with her in her grave. I have but one picture of all the incredible work she did in those years. Sincerely”
– Kathleen“What an inspiring article!! (and inspiring person) Thanks to the author for sharing!”
– Meagan“Having all my fingers amputated on one hand, I truly could identify. I started “jeweling” after my finger loss.

With no nerve feeling in either hand, we laugh a lot while chasing beads I’ve dropped to the floor. I loved the inspiration, as always.”
– Elaine

“Dear Kristal, I love your articles and am so inspired by you! I have been enjoying your career for quite a while and honestly did not ever notice! I have an essential familial tremor and I consider it a lesson in patience and determination. Some days it is very pronounced and others are not so bad. You have encouraged me to keep at it and I will make some jewelry again soon.”
– Anonymous

Homage to the Little Black Dress Project

Standard

 


Using wire cutters, cut one 4-foot length of beading wire. Cut two 26-inch lengths of beading wire.

Strand 1

STEP 2
Add a bead stopper to one end of the 4-foot length of beading wire.

String the following onto the 4-foot length of beading wire: 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, montée, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower and a 4mm jet bicone.

STEP 3
Pull the beading wire through the lower (open) hole in the montée, passing the wire through then out the top open hole.

Repeat Steps 2 – 3 four more times.

STEP 4
Continue stringing: 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm dark grey crystal pearl and a lava rock bead.
STEP 5
String one 4mm dark grey crystal pearl, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone and a montée.
STEP 6
String one 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower and a 4mm jet bicone.
STEP 7
Pull the strand up through bottom open montée hole and out through top open hole.
STEP 8
Repeat Steps 7 – 8 seven more times.
STEP 9
Continue stringing: 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, a crimp bead then a loop on the outside of an end bar. Crimp the crimp bead then trim the excess wire.
STEP 10
Add a crimp bead to the other end of the strand then pass through the outside loop of another end bar. Crimp the crimp bead then trim the wire.

Strand 2

STEP 11
Add a bead stopper to one end of the 26-inch length of beading wire.

String onto one 26-inch length of beading wire: 4mm crystal bicone, black pearl, 4mm crystal bicone, light grey pearl, 4mm crystal bicone and a dark grey pearl. Repeat this pattern eight more times.

STEP 12
Add a crimp bead to one end then pass the beading wire through the middle loop of an end bar. Crimp the crimp bead then trim the wire.

Repeat on the other end of Strand 2.

Strand 3

STEP 13
Add a bead stopper to one end of the 26-inch length of beading wire.

String onto the other 26-inch length of wire an alternating pattern of 3mm jet bicone beads and rice pearls, 42 times.

STEP 14
Add a 4mm crystal AB bicone and a crimp bead to one end. Pass the beading wire through the last open loops on one end bar. Crimp the crimp bead and trim the wire.

Repeat on the other end of Strand 3.

STEP 15
Using a jumpring, attach the toggle ring to the end loop closest to the side of the necklace with the lava bead.
STEP 16
Using a jumpring, attach the toggle bar to the end of a 5-1/2 inch length of chain. Using a jumpring, attach the other end of the chain to the end bar opposite the side with the lava rock bead.
STEP 17
Cut a 15-inch length of organza ribbon. Tie a bow around the jumpring used to connect the toggle ring to the end bar.
The pieces featured in the Gallery of Designs are copyrighted designs and are provided for inspiration only. We encourage you to substitute different colors, products and techniques to make the design your own.
Go here for complete project: Fire Mountain Gems