Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beaded Bead Flower Charms

The 2nd Annual Wrist Candy Holiday Giveaway is in full swing, so I figured that I would share the individual charms that I created for the charm bracelet:

These charms are based on my Double Bubble Jacks design, using a variation which I've been putting off trying for a while. The original design uses Czech glass drops, however Cynthia Newcomer Daniel showed long ago that this design could also be accomplished using Miyuki fringe seed bead drops. I finally tried this variation out myself and I'm pleased to report that it definitely works with fringe drops, especially with the adaptation for drop pearls.  

The Double Bubble Jacks beaded bead tutorial is currently available in my Etsy shop. Remember that through 11/28/10, anyone who purchases an item from my or any of the other participating SATeam shops will be entered in a drawing to win this beautiful charm bracelet!

Monday, October 18, 2010

2nd Annual SATeam Wrist Candy Holiday Giveaway!

For the second year in a row, the SATeam is having a fabulous promotion! Between 10/17/10 and 11/28/10, anyone who purchases an item from any of the participating SATeam shops will be entered in a drawing to win this beautiful charm bracelet, featuring an eclectic collection of handcrafted charms from many individual team members!

This year, we chose a floral theme for the bracelet. Doesn't it look like a fabulous garden?

Can you guess which charm I contributed? ;)

The full entry rules and a list of the participating shops can be found at the SATeam blog, which will be featuring tons of gorgeous items by the participating shops for the duration of the sale. You can also find sale items by searching for SATEAMWRIST at Etsy.

At my shop, this promotion is valid for each jewelry and tutorial sale, so you can enter this drawing by purchasing either handcrafted jewelry, or instructions on how to make your own beautiful creations!

Happy Holiday Shopping!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Balloon Boxes with Bubbles

I've been experimenting with my newest beaded bead design, the Balloon Box. I actually made this blue and pink beaded bead a while ago to match some lampwork beads I was incorporating into a necklace. I ended up going with a different beaded bead design for the necklace, so this one became a pendant:

But more recently I came up with the idea to incorporate Miyuki fringe drop beads into this design (maybe it was from all the fun I've been having with Gwen's new Ionic Polyhedra pattern!). By replacing 24 of the seed beads with fringe drop beads, I ended up with these modified Balloon Box beaded beads:

Neat huh? 

Actually, the above two beaded beads have one key difference. Can you see it? 

Look closer... Can you see it now?

Give up?

OK, I'll tell you: these two beaded beads use different sizes of Miyuki fringe drop beads. The one on the left uses the classic 3.4 mm drops which have been on the market for some time now. The one on the right uses the brand new mini drop beads, aka 2.8 mm drops, which became available earlier this year. 

Here's another view of the beaded bead on the left, with the 3.4 mm drops:

And the one on the right, with the 2.8 mm drops:

It's a subtle difference, but it was more noticeable when I was weaving both of these beaded beads; the larger drops make the finished beaded bead look a little bit fuller, and they also cover the thread nicely as well. The smaller drops are a little easier to weave into this design, but more of the thread shows in the finished beaded bead. 

So, for this Balloon Box beaded bead variation, I'm going with the larger fringe drops, which is fortunate because these beads are made in a wider variety of colors and are also more widely available at this time. I made another one of these Balloon Box variations in blue and precious metal colors, to match some "Luna" Venetian beads I've had kicking around in my bead box. 

I'm not sure if this beaded bead quite matches the Venetian beads though; it ended up much more blue than I had planned. 

Anyway, even though the 3.4 mm fringe drop beads worked best for this variation, I'm not giving up on the 2.8 mm drop beads; these are just too cute to keep locked away!  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Japanese Seed Beads, In Japan!

For our honeymoon a few months ago my husband and I traveled to Japan. Why Japan, you might ask? Well, we had always wanted to go there, my sister is currently living in Osaka so we could visit with her while we were there, and we wanted an adventurous trip to a place different from what we were used to.

But my visit would not have been complete without...

...A visit to a Miyuki bead store! 

My favorite Japanese seed bead manufacturer, Miyuki Co., ltd, operates three retail stores in Japan. The employees at their Tokyo branch kindly allowed me to take pictures after I asked them (in Japanese! For the curious, it's "Shashin o totemo ii desu ka?" Props to my sister for the survival Japanese lessons!), however the Osaka branch was decorated with "no photography" signs so I didn't even try to take photos there. 

The Tokyo store is three stories tall, with the first floor taken up entirely by Miyuki seed beads:

A big difference between these stores and the Californian bead stores that I've been to is the storage and display of the seed beads. While their Delica beads are sold in 5- and 20-gram boxes, the rest of their seed beads are displayed in rows and rows of individual jars and are sold from these jars in carefully-weighed out 8-gram increments. This display makes the whole place look like a candy store:

Here are some fringe drop beads in their respective jars, in one of my favorite cobalt blue colors:

While this display was quite impressive, I think that it actually made it easier to stay within my shopping budget. Language barriers aside, it's easy to pick a pre-packaged tube of seed beads off the shelf in a Western store and take it up to the counter to have the sales clerk ring it up. While the three young women helping me at this shop were quite efficient in weighing, packaging, and labeling my bead purchase, I would have felt somewhat uncomfortable to ask them to weigh out 30 different kinds of seed beads. 

This store must sell over 100 different kinds of kits:

They even have some geometric kits!

I loved the different kinds of beadwork that they had on display. Check out this loomed lamp cover and the purses in the background:

But the cutest display was definitely this little French-beaded flower garden right next to the register:

So, did I break the bank? Actually, I was able to restrain myself :). I was mostly looking for seed beads which I haven't been able to find here in the States, and I found that this selection was quite small; 99.9% of their stock is also readily available at retail bead stores the USA. In fact, I was surprised to find that both the Tokyo and Osaka stores were not yet carrying the new Tila and small 2.8 mm drop beads which had just started to appear here in the US.

I did manage to find some dichroic-lined seed beads in shapes and sizes that I haven't previously seen. Here they are in the 10° triangle size:

Finally, just to show that we visited other places in Japan besides bead stores, here we are at the Shitennoji temple in Osaka:

And at the Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto:

So, in conclusion, it's relatively easy to go bead shopping at Miyuki's Japanese retail stores without spending your entire vacation budget. Just... Don't ask about my washi shopping spree...
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