Thursday, April 29, 2010

In Memorium

I usually don't use this blog for personal posts, but this past month marks the passing of two beloved family members: my great-grandmother Mimi, followed 12 days later by my aunt Annie. The loss of both of these wonderful ladies is a huge blow to my family. Since this is a beading blog, I'd like to memorialize them here by talking about their appreciation of beaded art.

Some of you might remember the post I wrote about the pearl necklace I sent Mimi for her 100th birthday last year. I said it then and I'll say it now: there isn't a craft that she tried that she didn't master, because she was just that awesome. She had no fear of learning, whether it was crafts or technology; one of the things she learned in her final few months of life was how to use Facebook. She was one classy lady that I'm blessed to have had as my great-grandmother.

The loss of Annie was very devastating; she died at the age of 50 from Pulmonary Hypertension. She was one of the sweetest, most selfless people that I've ever known, and was the picture-perfect persona of a deeply devoted daughter, mother, and grandmother.

Mimi was a master at French beaded flowers. I can't think of a household in our family that doesn't have one of her amazing beaded bouquets. I inherited these single stems when I moved into my first apartment, which I assembled into three miniature bouquets. They're still there decorating the edge of my sink, and unlike other flowers these ones are fine without water :).

Here's one of the mini bouquets that can be found at my parents' house:

Some of the color-lined seed beads in this bouquet are fading. They're probably old enough to be vintage at this point.

Mimi used the most creative "vases" for her mini bouquets. This one uses a candleholder!

Same with this one:
Here's one of her roses... Isn't it amazing?

Finally, when we were cleaning out Annie's bedroom, I was so happy to find that she kept a huge bouquet of Mimi's roses right next to her bedside. These grainy cell-phone pictures hardly do this piece justice:

It's like Mimi was watching over Annie in her final days:

Miss you Mimi and Annie... Though you are gone, you live on in your art, and in the memories of those who loved you.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Half-Starburst Flowers

When I think of the springtime, I immediately think of flowers. So what better way to celebrate's "The Beauty of Spring" theme than by creating flower beaded beads out of Czech glass beads!

I tend to think of these beaded beads as "Half Starbursts" because they use exactly half of the number of lentil beads as the Circle Starburst design. These beaded beads have the geometry of regular pentagonal prisms, and are an easy variation of the Circle Starburst. They measure about 7/8 of an inch (22 mm) across at their widest length, and can be strung a couple of different ways.

I sampled some of Artbeads' amethyst and matte peridot lentils for this one, as well as some of their 15° Japanese seed beads. The result is a color combination that I didn't quite expect, but it definitely sets off the flower portion of the beaded bead compared to the light green "leaves."

The best part about these flower beaded beads? They're reversible!

I made a necklace with five of these beaded beads in lovely matte blue lentils. Combined with some gorgeous Czech Opalite Blue Roundelles, this necklace is perfect for a tropical spring vacation!

Or, turn it around, and it's perfect for a spring day in the garden!

The possibilities are endless!

Full disclosure: The Czech glass lentil beads, opalite blue picasso roundelles, and a selection of 15° seed beads used in these projects were received as a gift from No payment was made for the review of these products.

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Pattern: Circle Starburst Beaded Bead

I have two exciting announcements to unveil! First, my newest beaded bead pattern, the Circle Starburst, is finished:

This beaded bead was the result of months of experiments with ways to get lentil beads to hold firm in a dodecahedron structure, and I love how it ends up looking like an icosahedron. The above beaded bead was woven with Swarovski crystal circle pendants, sometimes called Rivoli pendants, article no. 6200 (the new Xilion cut is article no. 6428). These crystals really give the Circle Starburst a fantastic extra sparkle!

I've shown this one with teal glass lentils before, where I used a Southwestern color palette:

A neat variation on this beaded bead is that it is easily adaptable to larger lentils, such as those in the focal of this black and gold necklace:

I discuss how to make this larger beaded bead in the "Variations and Inspirations" section of the pattern.

The same variation is used in last year's Christmas ornament, which I've shown on this blog before.

The second part of this announcement is a that this pattern is available through an exclusive partnership with the talented Gwen Fisher and Florence Turnour of beAd Infinitum. I'm really excited about this partnership: I've admired Gwen and Florence's work ever since I began working in geometric beading, and their designs have had a huge influence on my development as a beader and an artist. It's an honor to have my Circle Starbrust pattern available alongside their fantastic designs that I've held in such high regard for so many years.

The Circle Starburst pattern is available here, and more Circle Starbursts can be seen in the beAd Infinitum Gallery. While you're there, check out the new Hour Glassy bead and Toggle Clasp and Cable designs!

As always, I'd love to see your own iterations on the Circle Starburst!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dodecahedron Origami

It's occurred to me that while geometric origami was the first inspiration for my beaded beads (and it's still a source of inspiration), and while this is reflected in my business name, I've never actually posted any pictures of my origami creations. Well that ends today!

This origami dodecahedron is constructed from thirty pieces of identically-folded sheets of paper, or "modules", in five different colors. The module is the "Double-Sided Concave Hexagonal Ring Solid" from Unit Polyhedron Origami (2006), by my favorite origami master, Tomoko Fuse. I'm not sure why she called named it after a hexagonal ring, since it can be clearly used to construct a structure composed of pentagonal rings, but she uses the same module to construct more complicated polyhedra in her book.

My own twist on this design is that each pentagon face has five colors, and each corner of the dodecahedron has three different colors. I used this same coloration in a couple of simple dodecahedron beaded beads. One in pastel colors:

And another in jewel tones:

The beaded beads are quite small compared to the origami construction!

Many beaded bead designs are based on a dodecahedron structure, whether it's my own Teardrop Bubbles design, Gwen Fisher's Infinity Dodecahedron, Laura Shea's Plato Bead along with its many variations, Laura McCabe's crystal rivoli docecahedron, or Diane Fitzgerald's peyote dodecahedron. I've been thinking about trying out this color pattern on more complicated beaded bead structures such as these ones, but I'm wondering if the result would look too complicated... What do you think?

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