Monthly Archives: August 2012

South Beach Flavors


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!




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



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

Strand 1

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.

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.

Continue stringing: 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm dark grey crystal pearl and a lava rock bead.
String one 4mm dark grey crystal pearl, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone and a montée.
String one 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower, 4mm jet bicone, crystal flower and a 4mm jet bicone.
Pull the strand up through bottom open montée hole and out through top open hole.
Repeat Steps 7 – 8 seven more times.
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.
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

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.

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

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.

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.

Using a jumpring, attach the toggle ring to the end loop closest to the side of the necklace with the lava bead.
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.
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

Homage to the LBD


Probably more than any other item in our closets, the little black dress (LBD to some), is the one essential garment we should all own. Like a cup of java in the morning, it’s simply a MUST. Though not much of a stretch by any means, I’m always designing with black, aren’t you?The LBD was birthed in the ’20s as a result of women tossing off their long, layered, heavy dresses, cutting their hair and enjoying a new social party life, daringly displaying more shoulders, backs, and legs for the first time in history. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel inspired the style we think of when we think of flappers, and her designs epitomized the ’20s due to their fresh, modern and updated look. American Vogue published a drawing of Chanel’s LBD design, predicting it would become a uniform; well, guess they were right as it certainly has. She worked with neutral colors and soft easy-to-wear jersey fabrics that were simply shaped and cut. What was most remarkable in her designs was the infusion of comfort and sophistication into the former prim and proper fashion world. Previous to 1926, black was reserved for funerals and mourning periods, not festive events such as the parties of the roaring ’20s. Chanel was quoted, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”One of our all time faves which has stood the test of time is the classic “Audrey Hepburn” as seen on Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This LBD was designed by Hubert de Givenchy and it epitomized the standard for wearing little black dresses. Every woman looks great in it and the LBD is the perfect default ensemble when you’re having one of those “I have nothing to wear” days.

Personally, my little black dress isn’t so “little” these days as I experience that dreaded middle-age spread and I certainly don’t attend any parties such as the caliber of those in the 1920s. I have to say, I do love designing jewelry for the LBD. The look is classic, effortless and wearable no matter the event, age or size! I try to make each piece a beautiful work of wearable art paying homage to the LBD. Often, I incorporate Swarovski crystals and pearls which speak to the “classic” and exude ease and sophistication. I like to think my designs would be worn by Audrey Hepburn should Breakfast at Tiffany’s be remade.

Please don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to design for the other end of the spectrum, which I refer to as “Gaga style” (homage to Lady Gaga), but how wearable are these pieces in my little beady corner of the world? They end up in books or competitions but are not frequently worn. And when I did wear one to a party, I could not believe how itchy it was all night! Learned that lesson the hard way!

Whether your life is filled with social events, parties or just a daily trek to the cubicle farm, LBD jewelry is delightfully appropriate. And who doesn’t like getting dressed up once in awhile? So I invite you to join me in paying homage to classic design history and create some LBD jewelry!

Go here for the full article: Fire Mountain Gems