Homage to the Little Black Dress Project

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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
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Homage to the LBD

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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

Beading as Meditation

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by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer, Instructor and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS Ambassador,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
I’ve taken yoga and meditation classes for eons. I’ve even stayed at an ashram with a real live guru and participated in a silent 4-day noise fast to tackle my “monkey mind” (quite similar to Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love only she has better hair), and I gotta tell ya, after years of experimentation and dedication to these traditional methods of quieting the mind, my favorite meditation practice comes in little clear plastic tubes … seed beads.Studies have continuously proven time and time again that stress isn’t real; there’s no such thing. You can’t buy it, sell it, or even regift it; yet we all live with it to various degrees. We actually make it up. Yes, it can take a physical and/or mental toll on us but think about it … we … make … it … up! If ever there was a need to bead, this certainly tops the list! Feel free to discuss with your doctor before filling that anti-anxiety prescription …

Much less expensive than a trip to India for 4 days of no talking (don’t think for a moment THAT wasn’t a challenge for ol’ chatty Cathy here), those little teeny-weeny seed beads contain a wealth of endless possibilities within each miniscule orb. Just as each little acorn contains an entire acorn tree, each seed bead contains untapped color palette, projects, and masterpieces beyond our wildest dreams. And if you believe, as I do, in basic Quantum Physics; everything is energy and the thoughts you think contribute to your reality. So, what about beading? I tried a little experiment to start off and end each day beading with calm, meditative thoughts and see if my life changed. I mean if Oprah has her entire staff at OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) meditate twice a day, this stuff MUST work, right?!

I can hear your gasps across the cyber waves at the thought of taking time to do this every day, what, with the kids, and busy schedules, stressful jobs, etc. who can afford such a luxury? Those were my very thoughts as I pondered this new lifestyle; I had a stressful 55-60 hour workweek with a commute at the time and all the “perks” that go along with it (you know which ones, baskets full of dirty laundry by Sunday night, dirty dishes in the sink, unopened bills). In spite of this, I made the commitment to myself, plunged ahead and tried it for a month. By Jove, it worked like a charm! After 20 minutes of beading with my morning coffee, there was no road rage on the way to work, I went into the office with my head still in the “zone” instead of worrying about the list of to-do items that, well, let’s face it, will NEVER get done. I had some peaceful calming space in my head instead of re-playing yesterday’s disturbances such as my calorie count BEFORE the visit from Ben and Jerry at midnight; the totally insane request from my boss at 4:47 pm as I’m heading out the door; and the zillionth button-pushing phone conversation with my mother (how can that STILL happen????).

Many times in the evening, I’d feel much too tired to bead, but I did it anyway and found I slept great with thoughts of beady delights running through my mind instead of previously mentioned monkey-mind to-do list. One of my main conclusions is I actually did NOT get more accomplished in a day by worrying; bead-meditation gave me more focused clarity throughout the day instead of feeding the invisible stress monster. I had more patience and my decision making was quicker with increased clarity in my actions and a more acute sense of intuition. I’m still loving it over a year after my initial launch and invite you to try it! Remember, some is better than none, so even if you can do it a few times a week, it’s worth it. Here are some tips to get started!

  1. No cell phones allowed. Seriously, not even on vibrate! Leave them in another room on silent.
  2. Bead something you can do by heart or is the same pattern over and over again so you don’t have to think. The point is to remain in the “zen-zone” as long as possible; this is not a true “working” session and any interruptions by thinking or trying to follow a pattern will defeat the whole purpose of this meditation.
  3. Keep your project easily accessible and quick to pick up where you left off.
  4. Play quiet, soothing, instrumental music, preferably with no words. Lay off the rap for 20 minutes.
  5. Shut the door and put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign when meditating. If the kids can post signs on their door and expect you to obey, so can you.
  6. The goal of this is to feel good and stay in the zone, not focus on how quickly you can finish up your project with a race against the clock; pondering if it’s better than your sister’s beading or wonder how much you can sell it for.
  7. Set a timer so you don’t have to keep looking at the clock.
  8. Try, as much as possible, to have happy, calm, loving thoughts during each 20 minute meditation. This is not the time to SHS (Should Have Said … you never put the toilet seat down, we never cuddle anymore, when was the last time YOU let the dog out).
  9. Bead first thing upon awakening, before you start on the treadmill.
  10. It’s OK to fall asleep face first in your bead pile (just be sure to send me a picture!).

Some of the best advice I’ve heard regarding making time for meditation: if you’re too busy to do 15-20 minutes a day, you need to double your time! You’re simply too too busy! Best of luck my beady buddies and let me know how it goes!

KRISTAL WICKS’ PICKS BOOK GIVE-AWAY!

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I’m soooooo happy to give away a signed copy of Diane Fitzgerald’s book, Favorite Beading Projects, to one of my beady peeps! Tell me how you first got started beading here on my blog and I’ll randomly select a winner TGIF March 9th*

MY BOOK REVIEW

Can I just say every time I’ve bumped into Diane Fitzgerald, I feel I should curtsey as one would in the presence of royalty, such as a queen. Of course I’m usually wearing sandals or Crocs; neither lend themselves well in curtseying not to mention, Diane isn’t decked out in a ruffly, layered, poof skirted ball gown either, so I just say “Hey Diane.” But we all know she is indeed seed bead royalty!

I have the pleasure of perusing through her latest book from Lark due out March 6, 2012, Diane Fitzgerald’s Favorite Beading Projects. With 24 delicious projects ranging from Stringing to Beadweaving; a lovely Forward by the renowned Jean Campbell; and an inspiring Gallery, she finally got me! Diane’s 11th book has captured me with it’s simpler projects and I’ve got a needle threaded with a pile of seed beads ready to start her Diamond Chain Bracelet project before I’ve even finished looking through the entire book! I’ve always admired her innovative and complex designs yet felt afraid to move beyond my safe and beloved peyote stitch to try any of her fancy masterpieces. This book has changed all that for me.

Diane makes it very enticing to dive in and join her on her personal beading path. The quality of the images is spectacular as well as the easy to follow colored diagrams. I also must comment on the friendly font and layout of this book-simply delightful and inviting. I love her wide range of techniques and skill level of the projects presented. Gotta’ go now, Diamond Chain Bracelet is calling me, no wait…maybe I’ll start with Midnight Snowflakes…no wait….

Order your copy here: http://www.larkcrafts.com/bookstore/?isbn=9781600599224

*Free book shipped to USA address only.

BE YOUR OWN VALENTINE

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Be Your Own Valentine

by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer, Instructor and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS Ambassador,

Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Gone are the days of our youth when we handmade Valentine Boxes in grade school, laboriously embellished with red and pink construction paper hearts, glue paste (that one kid in class always ate to gross us out), and the pièce de résistance … lacy paper doilies! We’d all slip Valentines into each other’s boxes and wait with baited breath and butterflies in our tummies, hoping we’d receive a Valentine from one of the “cool kids” or the cute kid we had a crush on.

The big excitement of receiving little boxes of “conversational heart” candies, Necco wafers and perhaps a chocolate or two is a far cry from the extravagant box of Godiva chocolates I now treat myself to each year!

One year my crafty mom made heart hair clips with a hand calligraphy initial for every girl in class. She stayed up until 2 or 3am working away (gee, I wonder where I get it), and they were the hit of our 4th grade Valentine’s Party! There were probably a few boys in my class that would have enjoyed them as well, but those were different times …

Life was simpler then; no texting, emails or iPhones, which makes Valentines made from the heart all that more precious. I haven’t had a “Valentine” for a few years now (except from my little WhippaWaWa puppy, Sparkle), and I thought why not be my own Valentine? Honor and love myself by making myself a Valentine! A touch of vintage with a splash of contemporary in mind, I came up with wearable Valentine pin/pendants using antique Valentine postcards and ICE Resin®. Of course, no Valentine is complete without a dash of Swarovski crystals and pearls! I had so many compliments on my necklace, I had to make more for my BFFs! Using a ribbon, I dangled each pin from the branch of a small white feather Christmas tree and let all my friends pick their fave from my Valentine Tree. They were thrilled!

I invite you to do the same! Here is my free Valentine project for you! Let me know how they turn out; I love seeing pictures of your creations!

Creatively,
Kristal

Click here for my free project:

Single-Strand Necklace with ICE Resin® and Vintage Paper Pendant and Swarovski Crystal Beads and Pearls

WHY WE BEAD

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

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?

BEAD IN THE NEW YEAR

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by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer, Instructor and SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS Ambassador,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
Resolution is a dirty word. Like a new diet, it always sounds like a great idea in that moment of deep clarity (ha! right after the good luck pork dinner or that extra glass of champagne) then in the light of day, the brilliance fades, you fall off the wagon and you’re left feeling like a failure … AGAIN. Why do we set ourselves up every New Year’s Eve for this reoccurring nightmarish ritual? One word: Hope. Hope that this year will be different, hope that we’ll find the time to clean our studios more often, hope that all beads are half price (don’t hold your breath), hope that our ugly bead stash (we all have one) magically turns into Swarovski crystals overnight, hope that this new year will be the year they make a chocolate with zero calories AND zero carbs! You get it…Hope.So with a dose of Hope infused, I invite you to join my “Team Hope” and make some new resolutions with me. There’s power in numbers gang so let’s get going!

  1. Resolve to pick up a stitching project BEFORE opening the pint of Ben and Jerry’s. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Resolve to give back more. This does not necessarily mean ka-ching. Whether it’s volunteering with your fave charity or teaching the kids down the street how to bead, the importance of giving back and paying it forward drastically changes lives. Here are some ideas:
    • Donate finished jewelry/art to your local humane society. Many of them have gift shops, events and auction fundraisers and would be happy to accept your donations. And not only will you feel good you really will be helping them raise money and awareness for their 4-legged angels.
    • Volunteer at your local children’s hospital making jewelry for the kids. Use your old beads andstretchy cord to create simple stretch bracelets. This has been one of my most rewarding experiences. I’d go from room to room and sing Winnie-the-Pooh songs making bracelets with these sweeties. Just being a small part of their joy and relieving their pain with a few minutes of “Puff the Magic Dragon,” was life transforming, for both of us.
    • Teach your cube-mates how to make jewelry. Easy earrings or charm bracelets are a fun brown-bag lunch activity you can do once a month in your company cafeteria or a conference room. Send out a supply list for each participant to purchase ahead of time or use your own supplies and charge a materials fee.
  3. Resolve to organize the studio 1/2 hour a day 3 days a week. Notice, it’s not open ended (we all know how that plays out), Set a reasonable goal with an achievable plan. As I’ve previously confessed, this cell is missing in my brain and I’m hoping the 1/2-hour turns into blissful hours once I dive into that productive mode and hit the organizing “zone.” Perhaps seeing more than 6 inches of cleared space on my worktable will inspire me to keep going (fingers crossed)! Here are some great organizers to get you going:
  4. Resolve to declutter jewelry making/crafting magazines and books. Have a craft-swap with your bead/jewelry guild. Everyone brings in their old crafting books, magazines and beads, and you all swap. The goal is to go home with FEWER items than you arrived with (tough to do). It’s a win-win for everyone and makes room on our shelves for new goodies!
  5. Resolve to hook up with peeps regularly. Yes, we’re all too busy to fit this one in which is why it’s so important! Keeping our creative flow going means not only creating but also sharing the experience. All too often hubbies and kids are not the most receptive in this area but our beady peeps are! So organize a Meet and Bead playtime (weekly, monthly or quarterly) at a local coffee shop or bookstore (so no one has the stress of cleaning the house) and bead/stitch/embellish your own projects for a couple of hours. Amazing how this fuels your creative fire.
  6. Resolve to multi-task when sitting in front of the TV. Now, many of us have been doing this for years, but there are a few who actually sit and WATCH TV! What, waste precious beading time you ask? This needs to halt with the New Year; all it takes is a little practice and set up. Lighting is key. Make sure you have a task lamp set up so you don’t go even blinder than you already are. Here are a few of my faves:

    Use a TV tray or some flat surface to place on your lap. Keep all your supplies in an old cigar box or shallow plastic container on top of the flat surface so tipping is kept at a minimum, and stray beads stay out of your couch cushions! Travel mats are great for this too:

  7. Resolve to take care of UFOs (Un Finished Objects). Pick a day or evening a month to specifically work on an unfinished project–NOT start a new one! It’s always good to do this with one of your beady peeps for support. It’s no secret, no need to feel shame, we ALL have unfinished projects, some have a few, some have a roomful (that would be me). Just dive in and go for it.
  8. Resolve to explore a new color pallete this year. Your BFF’s fave color scheme is sunflower yellow; make her a birthday present in HER colors (not yours). It’s an interesting process from a design standpoint when you step outside your comfort zone of colors. Once the resistance from your brain quiets down and you fall into the groove of creativity, your eye sees things differently forever more. Try it …
  9. Learn a new technique. This is like a breath of fresh air in a musty granny’s closet. We all get into beading ruts from time to time and there’s nothing more inspiring than taking a class, reading a new jewelry making book, kit or a free tutorial. First on my list is “How to Make a Spiral Hook”:
  10. Resolve to remember NO is a complete sentence. Learn how to say it and not feel guilty or offer rambling justifications. You are important and deserve some YES time. Taking care of everyone else can eat up all your time until there’s nothing left for your creativity which is the stuff that feeds your soul. Seriously commit to this for the New Year and I bet we’ll see a new YOU!
Go to Fire Mountain Gems for more info:

Where are my Beads?

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

I’ve long been aware of a couple major types of jewelry makers: the messy ones and the organized ones. Oh, sure there’s a lot of grey in between the two types, but I’ve concluded your DNA is preset in this area and basic cellular structure and tendency is either one or the other. I, myself, fall into a fringe category I call the “wannabe organized jewelry maker.” You know the type that buys all the cute plastic containers with every intention and expectation that the mere purchase alone will forever change a life with these plastic symbols of the organization holy grail…then they sit unopened, lonely and empty in the closet, waiting for divine inspiration to strike and they’ll be beautifully filled, stacked and labeled. Can anyone relate?

This pre-determined trait usually stems back from childhood. My mom was the “A type.” She had to wash a dirty fork BEFORE it actually hit the sink. Her fave pastime was cleaning and you’d find her in the kitchen doing dishes at every party, not just our parties, but all our neighbors’ and friends’ events! This behavior rubbed me the wrong way and certainly wasn’t to be emulated (who wants to be like their mother????). I wondered what would happen if a dirty dish sat in the sink…gasp…OVERNIGHT! Surely there were so many other more important things in life to spend your time on than the task of “dirty dish police.” So, after years of research, I’ve discovered Mother was indeed right!

Fast-forward to my studio today: same principles apply and my studio is living proof of this theory. I’ve found a couple seriously valid justifications for this scenario, #1 Call yourself a mixed media artist and everyone is much more accepting of this messy behavior (notice they never ask what media you work in so all grounds are covered). #2 Declare your passion to be “found objects.” This is a bit tricky as you’ll have to hide any “purchased” items from those questioning eyes. They seem to think you use only “found” objects, and there should be no need to buy anything…HA! (That’s what the trunk of your car is for).

I had a stained glass artist friend who had to completely clean up her studio before she started a new project. Of course I loved visiting. Her studio was so inspiring and cleared the “artistic pallet” so to speak (like smelling coffee beans between perfume sniffs). The downside was she only created a handful of projects in the same amount of time it took for me to create dozens, and was always puzzled as to the difference in our productivity. Proof once again, organize less, messier = more!

Don’t get me wrong. I love working in a clean studio, I just don’t want to pay the price! I enjoy all those magazines and books showing other artists’ magically organized studios (I’m certain some of them have Keebler Elves hidden in the back shed), but when pondering whether to make a new bracelet or get organized, creativity always wins, I channel Scarlet O’Hara, muttering to myself, “tomorrow’s another day,” and reach for my bead box.

After a few jewelry-making marathons at a buddy’s gorgeous studio, I decided to suck it up and try it once again. It felt so delish creating in her studio so tidy, prepped and inviting for the jewelry-making muse to visit. I always feel better and less chaotic after a visit. Bound and determined to change my ways or end up on the Hoarders TV show, I dove in…literally! I dove into the piles and sorted and filled containers and categorized and fully embraced the organizational bug instead of shooing it away again.

I can say in all honesty once I started, it was difficult, no impossible, to stop. My creative life felt orderly and manageable. All was well in this small corner of my world even if chaos reigned in every other corner! I could exhale once again and didn’t even realize I was holding my breath, yet, I was…bracing myself each and every time I entered my turbulently messy studio; with each shameful explanation I was too busy to organize, but someday…; every time I spent precious moments searching for that specific clasp I KNEW I had in here somewhere…well, you get the picture!

I can’t say I enjoy the process (just like exercise), but I do love the results and have committed to scheduling time in each wacky week to see at least a foot of table surface clear of all beady debris on a regular basis. It really DOES save time (which I believed to be a myth). So I’d like to share some of my tips to jumpstart your process:

  1. Chocolate and coffee
  2. Frequent visits to artistic peeps studios for organizational ideas and inspiration
  3. Containers, containers, containers! (below are a few of my fave organizing tools)
  4. More chocolate
  5. Crank those dancing tunes
  6. Let go of any judgmental-shaming self talk – it simply does no good!
  7. More chocolate

I wish you luck and may the tidy force be with you on your journey!

Creatively,
Kristal

Here are some of my favorite containers:

Bead tower – I am a huge fan of the entire Plano® Creative Options® line of organizers. They all match and are super convenient to travel with. This baby goes with me on the plane frequently!
Rolling tote – I do a lot of traveling so this comes in handier than anything else I own. Easy to fill and zip for a visit to my BBF’s (Beading Best Friend) studio.
Plastic organizer – These are a seed beaders’ paradise! All the tubes stand up so you can see all your colors at a glance; much easier to plan your next beading project using this. I also like to use these for my small crystals and gemstone chips. I’ll take 10 please…
Storage system – I call this my Big Bertha; perfect for keeping all your jewelry-making delights together.

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, “Where are my Beads?,” featured in an email exclusive. 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.

“Kristal… OMG you are so funny. I was dying laughing as I read your article. I know I sure could relate to the clean freak mother and I in turn am just like her. Better now that I’m old : ) kids are grown, I don’t move so fast anymore… you get the picture. I’m a bead Hoarder too I must admit. I really enjoyed your article I want the organizer Elves to come do my Bead room too!!! Thanks for making laugh,”
– Sherry

“Love the humor, style and content!”
– Susan

“Loved Kristal Wick article on getting the studio organized. It was like a God Send for me, as that is my task this weekend. I am on my way to get

  1. Chocolate
  2. Chocolate
  3. Chocolate
  4. Merlot (for when the task is finished!)
  5. I already have containers!”

– Gloria

“Love the ”Where are my beads” article! It was relatable and inspirational at the same time. Glad I’m not alone with the messy table–and I will use some of the listed excuses until I break out my label maker. Thanks!”
– Lisa

“I loved it! More importantly, I really needed the kick in the pants it gave me!”
– Karen

“I loved the article! I identified with everything she said. At least I don’t feel like I’m crazy anymore. Nice to know us beaders all have similar issues and we are all working hard to organize ourselves.”
– Mary

“I try to keep color families together with various containers, too, but one focal bead will challenge me for design ideas, and then there is a nest of beads of various sizes and colors sitting together waiting for creation. I wish I had a studio! My dining room table has lost its original function!”
– Fletcher

“Wow! An organizational article that I can actually relate to! Thanks for the hints (especially the chocolate and coffee one–just the impetus I need to get going. Love your article, Kristal, Keep up the good work and the tidy studio. Maybe someday, I will join you. Kind regards,”
– Jill

“This was totally delightful and perhaps even helpful?”
– Barb

“This article was well written and very relevant. The writer is realistic and makes a wide variety of suggestions. I enjoyed it and gained ideas! Thanks!”
– Kristy

“I have to tell you I laughed so hard it was like the pirates of penzant. (watch pretty woman movie-the opera scene.) Looking at my stash that I have moved from an apartment to a one bedroom cottage I just might tackle the supplies purchased during various trips when hit by it’s talking to me. I need it!

Thank you again for this vignette for all things bright and beautiful. The good Lord made them all. Thanks be to God! Blessings (and tell her to write a book)”
– Jeanne

“Love the Krystal Wick article. Can so relate. She has a great sense of humor also.”
– Ce

“Keep ’em coming! This article on organization validates the time I spent in trying to get organized. It’s a process, not an event. The more the pros share, the more time I save in learning. The ”hit-or-miss” school can be very expensive.”

“As a newbie to the business, your newsletters are an invaluable resource. Fire Mountain Gems provides in-depth info about beads and any treatments they may have received. Attempting to work with natural products for metaphysical benefit, knowing how the stones changed from the time they came out of the earth until they get to gives me confidence that my projects will be honest.”

“So thanks for all the extra work in being a terrific source of education–not to mention being a great source of quality product. In addition to those two critical elements, your clearance sales and such along with your flat-rate shipping make me a loyal fan. Much obliged,”
– Ashley, Gaia’s Gems

“Great article–I can totally relate to the whole thing! Great suggestions for organizing!”
– Leslie

“Inspiring–from another ”wannabe””
– Lisa C.

“Kristal Wick,

I did not know there are two of us in this world ! LOL !Our Mom’s sound much alike and I confess I too take the easiest way out. (Referring to “Where are my Beads”) But you sound like someone I would like very much.

As we have a nonprofit for American Indians and usually have a beading class – for everyone – the storage of beads is a great issue with me. Especially as I also need to keep track of those lonesome ones that escape busy hands and land on the floor.

Please keep up the good work and know you are not alone! Sincerely,”
– Carol

“Thank you for sharing Kristal Wick’s article on workspace organization (and lack of it)!

Believe it or not, I was brainstorming again today about how in the world to get myself organized. Just as Kristal mentions in her article, I was wasting so much time looking – rummaging is more like it – through all my plastic bags and boxes of jewelry supplies for something that I knew I had, but couldn’t for the life of me find. I, too, have many containers just waiting to be put to good use.

It was so nice to read that having everything in plain sight for the inspiration and/or ease is not really more efficient than being organized. Thanks to this article, I am actually looking forward to organizing instead of remaining the same “wanna be” that Kristal describes. Again, thank you!”
– Joan

“I found this article on being organized very helpful. I’ve often wondered what systems/items others use. I like to be organized; my only problem is actually room space for the containers themselves. But the different items shown in the article got my imagination going–perhaps I’ll be able to work something out. I really enjoyed this article. Thanks! Sincerely,”
– Ms. Nicole

“I just sent this message in response to Krystal’s excellent article today:”

“Here’s a suggestion for you. Your product H20-2558PK would work for headpins and eyepins, but the slots need to be deeper or the pins will fall down. If you sell empty short seed bead containers, they will work. I just organized my pins using an acrylic lipstick holder that is similar to your product. I was able to get in 36 different types of pins, 3 per lipstick slot, by using a package of Boba (Vietnamese tapioca tea) straws. I cut the straws into thirds. Obviously, you won’t want to tell people about that, because there will be no profit for you, but I might have bought your holder and your seed bead containers from you if you were selling the containers. I could not find short containers of the right size at a reasonable price. I needed to buy a case of 500? Not something I could afford. Your holder would be even better than my solution. Providing you sold the containers. Because all the head and eyepins would have their own slots. Also, the containers could have caps on them so that the pins would not have a chance of falling out. Best wishes,”
– Susan

“Loved the article–made me feel I was not alone and that the sign I have posted in my kitchen really does signify I’M CREATIVE I CAN’T BE TIDY TOO!!”

“My daughter always used to get frustrated with me saying there was more to life than housework–yep I was one of those women that had a regular routine for everything and if it wasn’t done my world was out of whack–not anymore though, my work space is now the cluttered space that I just could not function in and was very frustrated by others leaving my work space thus, when I was in a paid position.”

“Loved the organizing article. Boy, can I relate. Here I go, AGAIN, giving organizing a try!!! Thanks,”
– Marcia.

“This is such a wonderful idea… now if I only can find the time, hum”
– Jackie

“Kristal Wick–what a delightful read! What grace, style, and humor!”
– Margaret

“Loved this article ! I really think the disorganization hurts my creativity–I know I embarrass myself. Love knowing chocolate will help! When won’t it?”
– Barbara

“Thank you for the inspiration to get my work area organized. I, too, tell people I don’t have time to clean, but I know I would be so much more productive if I could just find everything without looking for it for forever. Thanks again!”
– Linda

“I am in the midst of organizing and appreciate the reminder about labeling the beads with the size and price. And what else is important for button people is labeling country of origin. I don’t have room to hang beads up in my “creative spot” so I use zip lock bags and and clear containers with snap on lids. My primary focus is buttons so I have them sorted by color and in zip lock bags. I found gorgeous boxes to store the bags in at a clearance sale. The boxes are so pretty that it won’t matter if I decide to leave them rather than finding a cubby hole to stick them in. Those clear containers that stack on top of each other are ideal for rhinestones and small buttons that I don’t have a huge quantity of. I have about 5 jars with my favorite colors that are on the bookshelved just because I like to see them. My focal point buttons and beads are stored in the clear organizers with built in dividers.

My main goal was to keep everything centralized in my loft area so that I don’t have things spread around the house since I aspire to be neat and tidy but live another style. LOL! Also my buttons (and beads) invariably end up on the floor and become a slip and fall hazard so I try to keep myself confined to this one area. I do have a portable case for projects that I have already laid out so I store the “to be completed” pojects in zip lock bags inside these cute little bags that look like one of those roll up bags for traveling. I fell in love with them because they are in this line called “everything Mary” and that’s me.

I do have to go to a larger area for working on shadow boxes and assemblage art (for jewelry). But everything is stored in such a way that I can just grab up boxes, my ephemera collection, etc and put them in a basket for changing location or going to a friend’s house to work.

Thanks for the inspiring article that came at just the right time!”
– Mary

“Thank-you for your tips on being organized. The most important things I pack when travelling on holidays is my rolling tote bag packed with my craftmates storages as these are absolutly fab. And I can carry quite a bit of stock. As my husband is retired we seem to do a lot more travelling these days and i like to have tools etc. on hand for our stay at home days. Happy beading everyone.”
– Beryl

“This was a great article from Fire Mountain Gems! I would love more of this type of articles from you. I found it very useful and it gave me multiple of ideas on how to organize my own beads. Thanks,”
– Lynn

“It was interesting. I only like containers that I can see into, for the most part. I used to have oodles of them until our house burned down last year, so I had to completely start over. Friends were amazing… jewelry making and art supplies, clothing, furniture, you name it, showed up for months. One friend who is a watercolor artist gave me her beads AND containers, which were the “fishing lure” type plastic ones and I like those.

Having limited funds, I use translucent pill bottles, dollar store “8 for a dollar” little containers, small glass jars… whatever I can come up with–my “stuff” is pretty well organized but I never have been and probably never will be… once I start working on something, I end up in a mess, every time!! But the beads and findings are organized!

I buy a few things from Fire Mountain every month, to build up my inventory. Love your website!!”
– Karen

“I’m going through the same thing. Made a lot of sense. I am a beginner only 7 weeks and I fix it today and start something, get busy with a project and I look around and there is the mess. I know exactly where everything is but with a mess. I live in a very small condo and there isn’t enough room for a hobby closet so I make a mess and I pick it up all the time. Thanks for your advice”
– Mary

“I’ve found my sister! Loved the write-up. So glad I am not alone. MUCH rather create than clean up. But a snow blower only does so much. Thanks for the bright spot in my day.”
– Lindy

“I read the entire article and enjoyed it but must say I have not found products at Fire Mtn to incorporate into my system. My best find was Walmart–a plastic box with rect fliplid boxes inside, 24 of them. Just large enough for rocaille (size 15) leftovers, even size 11 in smaller amounts and small crystals. I love that they are transparant. And I use tictac boxes although not as pretty. I probably have 100 of them. I could go on and on but I won’t. Best wishes,”
– Barbara

“Love love, love it. OH so true. I love the one foot of empty space on my beading table!!” But I can find things easier and be more creative when I can see all my choices.”
– Judy

“I loved this article, I have the same problem with organizing. No one in my family understands that I am not intentionally messy, it’s just a work in progress. If I clean up, the project stalls. I don’t have the time to “do jewelry everyday,” but I have time to do jewelry a few hours or minutes everyday or so. Do I clean up and put away everytime I am through for the day? If I do, I am stalled for several days, because other family duties take priority. I wish I could have my own space that no one in my family could see unless I wanted them to, so that I could walk away when it was time to do other things. In my life, this is only a dream. Someday”
– Gayle

“I just got around to reading my email from Fire Mountain, and, I want to say how much I enjoyed Kristal Wick’s article entitled “Where Are My Beads?” I am going to print a copy and hang it in my room. My own productivity has been greatly hampered by the perceived need to get organized first. I’m not the neat anal person. (I’m anal in other ways.) Organizing has been complicated by the fact that we moved into a smaller apartment. I also do more that just beading so my multipurpose space is overwhelmed. Kristal’s article struck home with me. I’m going to make some working space and get back to work. Maybe add a table and get to the real business of what I love. Thank you for letting me know that I’m not alone, don’t have to feel bad, and can get back to work. Perfect organization not required.”
– Sonja

“Relate with all my beady lizard brain, dear lady! Good thing is that when I want to compose a piece the beads fall into my hands by osmosis. (Same with the yarns for my loom and the thread for… well, you get the idea. remember with your heart and your head and fingers will fall into play… 8~)”
– Denise

“I loved it! It made me reflect on my own studio. I can’t get much done when its such a mess. Just reading this article by Kristal has been refreshing. I look forward to more articles written by her. Thank you again!”
– SHERRY

“Thank you sooo much for this fabulous and witty story, I am actually going to share it with a very disorganized friend whose office is not unlike Kristal’s former space. And ALWAYS remember, our Moms were always right! Thanks again”
– Dawn

Free Stringing Project

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I don’t know about you, but I’m an “over-the-top-funky-chunky” kind of jewelry designer. I love textures, 3-dimensional surprises, mixed media, big baubles, and bling. Having had years of experience selling my creations at shows (L.A. Gift show, Buyer’s Market of American Craft, Quilt Market & Fest, to name a few of the biggies) and online, I’ve heard every type of customer comment you can imagine, kind and not so kind! One of the more commonly heard comment is “Oh, I simply could not wear THAT to work, it’s too much.” While the “more is better” design style is hot in my book, I realize not everyone enjoys a neck full of baubles, so I came up with a way to customize a necklace design to please everyone! Join me in creating a new look.

Simple strand for simple tastes

Wearing a simple strand comes in handy and is definitely more “wearable” for work or playing on the weekends. I throw in a mixture of metal colors so my necklace will go with silver, copper, and gold. That way I don’t have to worry about matching my accessories.

1. Make this easy strand with seed beads and Swarovski pearls and bicone crystal.2. Crimp small loops on each end.
Double the funNow, let’s create a second strand with a bit more color and texture. Keep it simple or add a blast of bling (you know I can’t help it, Kristal is my name after all!). I used my Batik Beauty fabric beads with crystals for this strand.3. String a more complex strand with more components than your first strand. Make sure this strand is a bit longer than the first one.

4. Again, crimp small loops on each end.

Take it a notch upThis is my fave strand, adding even more unusual elements. I love throwing in a few resin nuggets for a sea glass effect without the weight. This strand is also where you may like to include some large holed beads. I call this strand my “party strand.” This is where I can go over the top and design this strand for holiday party-going!5. String this strand a bit longer than the other two strands.

6. Crimp small loops on each end.

The finishing touchYou can either create all your strands long enough to go around your neck and finish off with a toggle or clasp. For a more cost effective design, I like to add chain as the back of my necklace. Usually my hair covers that part anyway, so sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my precious baubles by doing a whole necklace with components.7. Add jump rings and a small lobster clasp to both ends of the chain, as well as to the back of your chain.
Voilà!Clip your desired number of strands to each end of the chain. Single, double or triple strand masterpiece. You can also wear each strand separately so you essentially have a dozen different styles to choose from in one simple necklace!

Reprinted from Beading Daily

How (and Why) to Buy a Micro Torch for Making Jewelry

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Burn, Baby, Burn

In one of my many exciting past artistic lives, I was a raku artist. I created pottery and fired it in a huge raku kiln in my backyard. My fascination with fire, the elements and the drastically varying glaze “surprises” always left me wanting more, itching to do it again.  I was totally and completely hooked on the inconsistent results—some days spectacular and others . . . well, let’s just say my mom has a lot of my fatally flawed surprises adorning her shelves.

When my interests turned to smaller scale metal jewelry and PMC, I ran to the local Torches-R-Us shop and plunked down some moola on my first micro torch. Inside, I was jumping for joy, chanting “must play with fire, fire, fire, fire.” Well, I’ll just forgo the unsightly details and skip to the end of the story: Raku firing is nothing like micro torches, and I don’t look good without eyebrows. . . . Yup, I singed BOTH eyebrows and haven’t looked the same since. I learned some great safety tips the hard way!

If you, too, had EFT (Early Fire Trauma) or are just curious about using a torch for jewelry, sit in on my fire chat (slightly different from a fireside chat) with the lovely Denise Peck, editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry and contributor to Jewelry Making Daily (my newest favorite blog, next to Beading Daily, of course!). Here’s our torch talk:

Example of a micro torch

Kristal: What features should readers look for in a micro torch?

Denise: Micro torches are widely available online and in hardware stores for $10 to more than $100.  (I haven’t found any significant benefit to the more expensive ones.) They all tend to burn at around the same temperature, 2500°F, which is hot enough for a lot of soldering tasks. Most of them have a burn time of about 30 minutes on one tank of fuel. There are a couple of key features you should look for: a flame adjuster and a sturdy base that allows hands-free use are key. Torches with all-metal nozzles tend to be better because extended use can melt any plastic parts near the flame. Also, some models come with a safety switch should you have children in the house.

Kristal: What else will they need?

Denise: You absolutely need a fireproof work surface, such as a piece of sheet metal or large ceramic tiles, to protect your table. Then, for your soldering, you need a Solderite board or charcoal block. For extra protection, I put my charcoal block in an annealing pan filled with pumice. If you’re working with fine silver wire, you don’t need solder because it fuses to itself. But if you’re soldering sterling or copper, you’ll need flux and solder. Flux is a paste that helps retain the heat where you want it and helps to make the solder flow. I dedicate pliers, tweezers, and picks for flame work, so I don’t ruin my good tools.

You’ll also need to buy fuel for the torch, which runs about $4 a can. It’s recommended that you buy butane fuel that is triple refined and sold with the torches or at jewelry-supply stores. If you use lighter fuel, it may clog your torch, and you’ll get an uneven flame. And, of course, you’ll need a quenching bowl of water to cool your pieces. If you use the torch for extended periods, it’s best to wear flame safety goggles.

Torch in action, firing metal ring

Kristal: Any tips to avoid common first-time mistakes? 

Denise: The most basic rule of soldering is that you must heat the entire piece, not just the join (the place where the two metal ends meet). Focusing on the join alone results in just burning away the metal there. Instead, slowly and methodically rotate the torch around the entire piece until it’s all very hot and then focus on the join to make the solder flow (or fuse the fine silver). Then immediately pull the flame away. When you’re using a micro torch, it’s important to keep the torch filled in order to get the highest heat from it. If it starts to take noticeably longer to heat and melt the solder, refill the torch.

Kristal: Beyond soldering, what kinds of projects can you do with a micro torch?  

Denise: If you want to just get started using your torch, try balling the ends of 20- to 22-gauge wire to make balled head pins. Or ball the ends of a nice S-clasp. That’s the simplest thing you can do with your torch, but it adds a great artistic touch!

Kristal: Any funny torch stories to share?

Denise: When I first taught fusing with a micro torch, I purchased eight inexpensive models for the fusing stations in my class. The flame adjuster dials were plastic and just at the base of the metal torch head. After 3 hours of constant use of these torches, the dials all slumped and melted. The torches still worked, but I was mortified that I’d been singing the praises of these $10 torches! Basically, they’re fine if you’re not using them for three hours straight. But what did I know!

Reprinted from Beading Daily