Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Kits: Crystal Helix Beaded Beads

New kits are now available for the Crystal Helix Beaded Bead design. The first uses blue zircon Swarovski crystals with the AB2X finish in a color palette that reminds me of a tropical ocean:

The next colorway uses the crystal silver night shade of Swarovski crystal, and ends up looking a lot like hematite. I paired a collection of very similar beaded beads with actual hematite in this necklace a while back.

Finally, kits for the peacock colorway are back in stock.

All three kits are available at, and make two small (~10 mm) and one large (~ 17 mm) beaded beads. The kits include all the beads needed, a beading needle, plenty of thread, the Crystal Helix pattern (automatically delivered after checkout as a PDF download), and shipping is included in the kit price! They can be incorporated into an easy earring and pendant set, or into a more elaborate necklace!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fiberoptic Duo Necklace

Do you remember the first time that you walked into a bead store? Or the first time you attended a bead show? The first bead show that I went to was back in 2006, when I worked for my friend Sandy of Fireweed Beads. She's since moved on from the bead-selling world, but she has the best sense of color and shape when it comes to Czech glass beads, especially with natural tones such as bronze, patina, and moss green. So when I was working with these colors while writing my new Fiberoptic Duo beaded bead pattern with SuperDuo beads, I naturally thought of a pair of strands of Czech glass beads that I bought from Sandy several years ago. It turns out that they complement these beaded beads perfectly!

This necklace features both Fiberoptic Duo beaded beads: two cube versions and three octahedron versions. I wanted to predominantly feature these beaded beads in this necklace, so I strung them relatively simply with prairie green Czech glass fire polish beads, 6° Czech seed beads, smoky quartz round beads, and a couple of Swarovski bicone crystals just surrounding the beaded beads. I was tempted to use additional shapes and colors of Czech glass beads, but anything more complicated would have detracted from the beaded beads, so I went with the "less is more" approach and I'm happy with how it turned out.

The Fiberoptic Duo Beaded Beads pattern is available exclusively at if you'd like to make your own versions of these beaded beads.

Is there a particular color palette that reminds you of a friend? Drop me a line in the comments!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

New Pattern: Fiberoptic Duo Beaded Beads

My newest pattern, the Fiberoptic Duo beaded beads, is now available at

Why the name Fiberoptic Duo? Well, the "duo" part comes from 1) the two colors of SuperDuo beads that are used in this design, and 2) the two different beaded beads that are are described in this pattern; the Fiberoptic Cube, and the Fiberoptic Octahedron. The "fiberoptic" part came about because I like the way the word sounds.

These beaded beads came about from a long line of beady experiments that I did last year with the aim of incorporating two-hole beads into new beading projects. The first result of these experiments was the Squareflake Earrings, a project that works with both twin and SuperDuo beads:

The next result was the Snowflakes bracelet, which appeared in the Dec/Jan 2012/13 issue of Beadwork Magazine. It's related to the Squareflake Earrings with a couple of changes; the snowflakes have six-fold symmetry, like real snowflakes, and I substituted the Swarovski crystal rivoli pendants with the less-sharp 3mm magatamas, so that the resulting bracelet would be softer on the skin.

Then there's the project that I'm really excited about, the Cosmic Nocturne Pendant. This pendant is hollow, holds its shape well, and has a nice combination of crystals and several shaped seed beads. I'll be teaching this project at the Bead and Button Show this June (B130661 - Fri. June 7 • 1:00pm-4:00pm)

The Fiberoptic Duo beaded beads use a simpler combination of beads for sleeker design; two different colors of SuperDuo beads, and round Japanese seed beads. I haven't had much luck using twin seed beads in this design, since it requires the two-hole beads to be very uniform. The SuperDuo beads do this quite nicely.

I like how both beaded beads use the exact same number and proportions of these seed and SuperDuo beads. They're similar in construction in some ways, but different in other ways as I detail in the pattern.

Which one do you like better? The cube is a little easier to weave, but I'm partial to all beaded octahedra. It tends to look more round than octahedron-shaped in this design though.

The Fiberoptic Duo Beaded Beads pattern is available exclusively at I'll be putting some kits together for this design in the next couple of weeks!

Do you have a favorite twin or SuperDuo design that you'd like to share? Drop me a line in the comments below!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bead Society of San Diego - Talk and Workshops in April

In this coming April, I'll have the pleasure of being the speaker at the monthly meeting of the Bead Society of San Diego. My talk will be be an updated version of the talk I gave to the Bead Society of Northern California, on the influences of mathematics and science in geometric beadwork.

In addition, I'll be teaching two workshops the day after this meeting. In the first workshop, students will learn how to weave the Circle Starburst beaded bead. I wove up two new colorways for this beaded bead for kits for this class; one in a dark teal green and bronze combination, and another in a more silvery steel blue:

The second workshop will be on the Tila Garden Pendant. Here it is in a white picket fence color combo:

The Bead Society of San Diego meets on the third Saturday of every month at 10 AM at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego. The workshops will take place on April 21 starting at 10 AM in nearby Lemon Grove. Contact the bead society at for more information about these two workshops, and follow their blog for information about other upcoming talks and workshops.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Kits: Teardrop Bubbles Beaded Beads

Kits are now available for the Teardrop Bubbles beaded bead design. First up is this kit in lavender glow, which was previously sold out:

The other Teardrop Bubbles kit is in a color palette I like to call Juicy Berry, as it uses lots of juicy, dark purple beads:

Both kits are available at, and include a needle, plenty of thread, and all the beads needed to make a finished beaded bead. They make great solo pendants, or focal beads in more elaborate necklace.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Beaded Beads with SuperDuos

Have you tried the new two-hole SuperDuo beads? I've been trying out several design ideas with these and the two-hole twin beads, and I came up with some cute beaded beads:

This particular design requires the uniformity of the SuperDuo beads and doesn't work well with twin beads, but other than that, it offers tons of design possibilities. With a change in geometry during the beading process, it switches from a cube to an octahedron:

Pattern coming soon!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Origami Interlude: Flower Cube

Sometimes I need to take a brief detour from beads to remind myself that I can still do origami.

This piece is the Flower Cube with Finish A, from "Origami Inspirations" by Meenakshi Mukerji. I really like Meenakshi's approach to modular origami; she's not afraid to use non-square sheets of paper like pentagons to achieve some truly gorgeous dodecahedral designs (that I really need to try someday), and I like her symmetrical approach to the distribution of color over the whole piece (it's actually the same approach that I use in my Candy Dodecahedron beaded bead pattern). Her website is an absolute goldmine of modular origami eye candy...

This particular piece uses six flower modules. It uses lots of pre-creases and a couple of harrowing spread squashes that were a little tricky to fold, but overall it folds up quite nicely. Here's one by itself:

Here are three joined together, from the inside view of the finished cube:

The individual modules are joined together without any glue, thread, or other adhesives.

It holds its shape quite well! I wouldn't start kicking it around like a soccer ball, but you can handle it pretty thoroughly without it falling apart. I like how you can see straight through it:

I used two sheets each of three different colors of a pretty typical weight of origami paper. I think that this model would work with a slightly heavier paper too, such as washi, but I wouldn't try folding it from anything heavier than that.

You think this design could translate into beads?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Beaded DNA Replication Fork Necklace

Over the holidays I carved out some time in my beading schedule to treat myself to a new jewelry set. It's another piece of beaded DNA, in the Y-shaped structure of a replication fork.

The colors and design of the necklace came about from a pair of earrings that I made alongside several other pairs of earrings that I wove for Christmas presents. For this pair, I continued the theme of using larger beads for the purines and smaller beads for the pyrimidines: I used 4 mm bicone crystals for A and G, and 3 mm bicones for C and T. I also added little caps at both ends of the earrings for an aesthetic effect.

The problem with these earrings is that I didn't use a seed bead between the crystals and the DNA backbone, which leaves the thread exiting the crystal at an angle. As any experienced beader will tell you, this can make the thread weaken and snap, which was the case when I made these earrings even though I used the stronger fireline thread instead of a nylon thread. As such, I didn't feel comfortable giving away or selling these earrings, so I kept them for myself.

These earrings needed a matching necklace, so I set out to create a beaded replication fork. For the types of beads used in the DNA itself, I added back in a 15° seed bead between the crystals and the backbone, so that the necklace would be stronger than the earrings. I also decided to forego the variation that yields major and minor grooves that you can see in my gene regulation necklace. The resulting necklace less-accurately portrays real DNA in that respect, but it does look closer to real DNA in another; since I used smaller beads for the backbone (I replaced some of the 11° seed beads with 15° seed beads, and the 8° seed beads with 11° seed beads), and a relatively longer set of beads for the base pairs (approx. 9 mm), there are about 11 base pairs per turn of the beaded double helix. B-DNA has about 10.5 base pairs per turn. In all the variations I've beaded on this design, I've only been able to get up to about 8 base pairs per turn until now. (For more on this subject, take a look at Gwen's two crystal DNA pieces - you can really see the effect of base pair length on helical pitch in these pieces).

I call this necklace a replication fork because it depicts how real DNA is replicated; since each base pair is defined (C always pairs with G and A always pairs with T), each strand has enough information to serve as a template for the other strand. Real DNA replicates this way; the double helix is unwound into single strands, and the new strands are synthesized on to the two older strands, one nucleotide at a time. So in this piece, the older DNA is at the focal point of the necklace, and the newer DNA wraps up the necklace towards the back.

For the branch point of the necklace, I left one base pair unpaired so that each daughter strand had enough room to twist up the necklace. I should note that a real DNA replication fork looks quite different than this one; the two new strands are not joined together at the branch point as they are in this necklace, and there are quite a few more bases unpaired at the branch point. The method of replication is also different for each of the two strands because of the antiparallel nature of the strands and the requirement that DNA can only be synthesized in one direction, but that's a story for another time.

The necklace has a beaded custom toggle clasp, woven with a twist on the embellished RAW technique.

Finally, additional Swarovski bicone crystals and Venetian glass rounds complete the necklace.

The sequence used in this necklace comes from the alpha subunit gene of the E. coli DNA polymerase III complex, which is responsible for most of the DNA synthesis in the E. coli cell. The story of its discovery, 24 years after the first DNA polymerase was characterized, is an interesting lesson in persistence and the methodology needed to solve complicated scientific questions. Plus it's the perfect sequence to use for a depiction of DNA replication :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Double Bubble Rizo Beaded Bead

I picked up some of the new rizo beads earlier this month, and for my first project using these little rice-shaped drop beads, I incorporated them into my Double Bubble Jacks beaded bead design:

They move around a tiny bit in the finished beaded bead, but they fit well enough to work without making the beaded bead squishy. To use the rizos in this design, I swapped them out for the 4 by 6 mm drop beads called for in the original pattern, and applied the same variation that I used for incorporating pearls into this design. The resulting beaded bead is a very cute variation of the original design, and two would make a nice petite pair of earrings.

Rizos are still pretty new, so they may not be available yet at your local bead store. I bought mine from, who are unfortunately already sold out of these little beads, but they should be getting in more stock late this month or early next.

Have you Rizo'd yet?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Beaded Caffeine Molecule Pendants in the Shop

Three new beaded caffeine molecule pendants are now available for purchase in my Etsy shop. You can read more information about each pendant by clicking on the images below. First up is this green tea-esque version:
Next up is this pendant in mocha:
And finally this one in carmel:
All three pendants are available for purchase in my Etsy shop, and come with a 16" or 18" sterling silver chain. Of course, if you'd like to bead your own, a pattern for this design is available at my website.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Scenes From the Beading Tray

I thought I'd take a quick snapshot of the seed beads on my beading tray right now:
I've been using these beads in a new beaded bead design using SuperDuo beads, which I hope to finish up pretty soon.
As you can see, I've been on a purple-bronze-silver color combo kick. I really like Toho's dark copper seed bead (mid-upper left in the photo below), which is redder than both Toho and Miyuki's dark bronze seed bead (mid-right), but lately I'm using a little of both. I think that the bronze color is a more commonly-used bead though. Which one do you prefer?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Kits: Morning Coffee Molecules

Kits are now available for the Morning Coffee Molecules so you can weave up some beaded chemistry. I've been experimenting with different colors of seed beads on a base of silver-plated seed beads, and came up with this colorway that reminds me of an iced coffee:
I also remembered how black and silver goes with everything, so I beaded up this colorway for a no-frills black coffee that remains elegant and stylish:
Finally, I included this colorway in latté flavors.
All three kits are available at, and include a needle, plenty of thread, and all the beads needed to make the finished molecules. They can then be strung on a jump ring and through a chain for pendants, or through a thin beading wire for a very chemical necklace.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Pattern: Morning Coffee Molecules

My newest pattern, the Morning Coffee Molecules, is now available on my website.
The pattern is easily the longest one I've written, clocking in at 30 pages and 85 photos and illustrations. It describes how to render, in beadwork, the skeletal chemical structures of just three of the over 1000 compounds present in your morning cup of coffee; caffeine, caffeic acid, and trigonelline (right-to-left in the photo above). As I mentioned previously, skeletal structures are a shorthand way of drawing a chemical compound. Here are the skeletal structures of the three beaded molecules above:
In writing this pattern, I first chose to describe how to weave the structure of caffeine, because, let's face it, it's just so cool:
For the other two structures in the pattern, I picked compounds that are both present in coffee and mostly aromatic like caffeine, which makes them flat and therefore more accurately-represented with this technique of beadweaving as compared to a more dimensional molecule. I also chose molecules considered unrelated to caffeine for some variety in this trio of beaded compounds. The second structure is caffeic acid, which, unlike its name, indeed looks quite different than caffeine:
For the third structure, I chose trigonelline, a smaller compound which is a relative of vitamin B3:
All three compounds have a connecting seed bead that can be strung through a beading wire, or through a jump ring as shown in this pendant:
The Morning Coffee Molecules pattern is available exclusively at, and I should have kits for this design ready in the coming weeks. What's your favorite coffee flavor?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bead & Button Show Class Registration Begins January 8

Class registration for the 2013 Bead & Button Show begins at noon CST on January 8! I'm teaching six classes this year; click on the images below for registration information on each class:

Last year, one of my classes sold out within 24 hours, so be sure to register early to secure your space! More information about registration as well as general information about the show can be found here. I'd love to see you there!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...