Friday, March 29, 2013

Tropical Dahlia vs Rivoli Kaleidoscope

While I was weaving some new Tropical Dahlia Pendants, I found myself constantly comparing them to my other rivoli-centric pendant design, the Rivoli Kaleidoscope. It's an instinct I learned while working as an analytical scientist; you're always comparing your current results to previous work. So, to satisfy this itch, I wove a couple of these pendants in the same color schemes so that I could make a direct comparison without considering color differences.
Tropical Dahlia (left) and Rivoli Kaleidoscope (right) Pendants

Center Rivoli vs Outer Rivolis

A big visual difference between the two designs is the focus between the center and outer rivolis. The Rivoli Kaleidoscope has three different kinds of rivolis, and shows off more of the outer rivoli pendants at the expense of the center rivoli. The Tropical Dahlia, on the other hand, leaves much more room to show off the center rivoli. I like that I was able to accomplish this in a rivoli design, as it's often difficult to bezel a rivoli with beadwork without covering most of it up.

Tropical Dahlia Pendant

Symmetry Difference

Another difference between the two designs is the symmetry difference; the Tropical Dahlia Pendant has 10-fold symmetry, while the Rivoli Kaleidoscope has 8-fold symmetry. This difference not only gives the Tropical Dahlia more detail, but it's also reflective of the symmetries that you're more likely to see in a flower vs. a kaleidoscope.

Tropical Dahlia (left) and Rivoli Kaleidoscope (right) Pendants

Of course, as I mentioned earlier this week, the Tropical Dahlia Pendant can be woven in 12-fold symmetry for a larger variation. A larger variation of the Rivoli Kaleidoscope can be created too, and both patterns describe the changes necessary to create these larger variations.

Size Matters?

Finally, the Rivoli Kaleidoscope is ever so slightly larger than the original Tropical Dahlia, but it's also slightly smaller than the larger Tropical Dahlia variation.

Tropical Dahlia (left and right) and Rivoli Kaleidoscope (center) Pendants

They range from 27 to 32 mm in diameter.

The patterns for the Rivoli Kaleidoscope Pendant and Tropical Dahlia Set are available exclusively at if you'd like to make your own!

Which design is your favorite? Drop me a line in the comments section below!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tropical Dahlia Pendants: Larger Variations

While I was designing the Tropical Dahlia Pendant, I experimented with the idea of using a larger central rivoli in the middle of the pendant...

Original Version: Ten Units

The original Tropical Dahlia Pendant has ten units of beadwork around the central rivoli; ten rizo beads, ten Czech teardrop beads, and ten rivoli pendant crystals, accompanied by a collection of Japanese seed beads.

Larger Variation: Twelve Units

To create the larger variation, I used an 18 mm rivoli in the center, and increased the units of beadwork from ten to twelve. The result is a slightly larger pendant with the rotational symmetry of a clock face! Can you see the difference?

This variation also required some additional minor adjustments in the size and count of the seed beads on the back of the pendant, which I describe in detail in the Tropical Dahlia Set pattern.

I think that a collection of Tropical Dahlias in these two different sizes would make a gorgeous necklace...

The pattern for the Tropical Dahlia Set is available exclusively at if you'd like to make your own!

What's your favorite kind of variation on a beading pattern? 

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Pattern: Tropical Dahlia Set

Just in time for the spring, my newest beading pattern is now available!

A Beaded Blossom Pendant

The Tropical Dahlia Pendant is the focal piece of this two-pattern set. I previously blogged about my design goals behind this pendant and the origin of its name, but basically, I wanted to design something with the new rizo beads in a floral theme. This pendant is the result of those efforts.

I labeled this pattern as an advanced design because it uses some unusual thread paths, and you have to be very careful not to weaken or cut your thread on the edges of the crystals when you add them to the beadwork. However, the pattern includes tons of illustrations and photos, so anyone with experience in the right angle weave, peyote, and netting stitches should be able to follow this rizo bead pattern. This design shares some ideas that I previously explored with the Rivoli Kaleidoscope Pendant, but it expands on these concepts for a more flower-like design.

Matching Earrings

Finally, since I've been working towards a goal of designing a matching pair of earrings for each of my new pendants, I wove some Mini Tropical Dahlias that fit this role perfectly!

I'm particularly proud of how the centers of these little flowers face out and not down when the earrings are worn. This took a lot of fiddling to get right, but I'm really happy with how they turned out!

The pattern for the Tropical Dahlia Set is available exclusively at if you'd like to make your own!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Definitely a Dahlia!

What's in a Name?

Thanks to everyone who contributed a name idea for my new beaded pendant with rizos and rivolis! After consideration of the suggestions made on this blog and on my Bead Origami Facebook Page, I took to Google's image search to see how the subjects of these names matched the original pendant.

A close second was an anemone flower (a name I, embarrassingly, first took for a sea anemone), but when I came across this picture of a gorgeous dahlia, it was a perfect match!

Color-Matching Exercise

I also learned that dahlias come in several different varieties and colors, from pure white to speckled dark purple. On occasion, I like to do color-matching exercises by creating a piece of beadwork from a photo, and this photo of an orange dahlia looked like a challenging candidate for this exercise.

I chose rose peach Swarovski crystals and matching rizo and Czech drop beads for the petals, and a luminous green crystal for the center rivoli. The crystal in the center is a little big compared to the center of the dahlia in the photo, but the orange beads are a great match!

Again, thanks again to everyone who contributed name ideas for this design! The pattern is coming soon!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fiberoptic Easter Egg Earrings

On the heels of creating the Fiberoptic Egg variation of the Fiberoptic Octahedron beaded bead, I've put together three pairs of earrings using this design!

Fiberoptic Easter Egg Earrings

The first is in very floral pinks and purples, with just a touch of orange and yellow:

The next pair is in tealish-green with purple:

And the last is in silver and black, since this color combination goes with everything.

All three pairs of earrings are available in my Etsy shop!

The Fiberoptic Egg beaded bead is a variation on the Fiberoptic Octahedron from my Fiberoptic Duo Beaded Beads pattern. This SuperDuo beading pattern is available exclusively at if you'd like to make your own!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fiberoptic "Egg" Beaded Bead

As a full-fledged science and math nerd, I like to explore many possible geometry variations in my beadwork. Along these lines, I recently wove a new variation of my Fiberoptic Duo design:

The beaded bead on the left is an original Fiberoptic Octahedron, one of two beaded beads described in my Fiberoptic Duo pattern, while the beaded bead on the right is the variation; a Fiberoptic Triangular Bipyramid.

Octahedron vs. Triangular Bipyramid

While their names sound nothing alike, the octahedron and triangular bipyramid (aka triangular dipyramid) are actually fairly closely-related polyhedra. Both have sides made up only of triangles, and when the sides in the triangular bipyramid are equilateral, these polyhedra make up two of the eight deltahedra. This is a special class of structures where all of their sides are made up of equilateral triangles.

You can think of a triangular bipyramid as two tetrahedra stacked up against each other. I also like to think of it as an octahedron that's just missing two of its sides. A triangular bipyramid has six sides instead of the eight in the octahedron, and nine edges instead of twelve.

A Geometry Variation

Because it's so closely related the octahedron, the triangular bipyramid makes for a straightforward variation on an octahedron beaded bead design. I wove this variation by skipping just one repeat of a step in the original pattern, and by substituting the seed beads in the core of the beaded bead with 15° seed beads. The tricky part is the seed bead overlay: I had to use quite a bit of thread tension to get this overlay to fit right without too much thread showing through. 

The resulting beaded bead is oval-shaped, and slightly taller than the original octahedron. Maybe it's because Easter is coming up, but it looks a little like an egg to me:

I had some fun balancing this beaded bead on its precursor:

Even one of my tiny paper cranes got in on this balancing act:

Fiberoptic Egg Earrings

Finally, I incorporated this beaded bead and another into a pair of earrings. Aren't they cute? I'm beginning to prefer oval-shaped beaded beads for earrings compared to round ones... What do you think?

The Fiberoptic Duo Beaded Beads pattern is available exclusively at if you'd like to make your own!

What's your go-to method for a beaded variation?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New Pendant with Rizos and Rivolis

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the start of spring. So, I designed a new pendant with a floral theme.

Design Goal: Something Flowery, with Rizo Beads

I thought that the new rizo beads looked a lot like little flower petals, so I experimented with several different ways of making them into little beaded flowers. After weaving several uninspired prototypes, I finally got the obvious idea to just stick a big rivoli crystal in the center of them. From there, some Czech drop beads and rivoli pendants just fell into place, resulting in this very flowery pendant.

Solution: Rivoli Crystals!

Clearly, a central rivoli was the solution to this design conundrum, and I'm learning that, rather than getting out-of-style, a bezeled rivoli can really enhance a beading design. I like how so much of the rivoli is visible in this pendant, since they sometimes get buried by the beads used to bezel them in other designs (including one of my own).

I still need a name for this pendant... Rivoli Kaleidoscope is already taken, and it isn't really a cherry blossom or a tulip. What do you think?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Origami Interlude: Tiny Paper Cranes

If you've ordered any beading kits from my website in the past couple of months, you might have noticed something special included in your shipment.

These tiny little paper cranes came about from a minor conundrum I faced a little while back...

What to do with leftover washi? 

As I previously mentioned, I hand-fold custom masu boxes for each piece of jewelry that I sell in my Etsy shop, and I cut the paper for these boxes from large (about 24" by 36") sheets of washi. I usually have a little bit of scrap paper leftover after cutting the washi into 6-inch squares for the boxes. It isn't much paper; usually strips measuring one to two inches by 6 inches, but since washi is so beautiful (and expensive), I can't bring myself to just throw the scraps out. Here's a sampling of them, after I cut them into 1 1/2-inch squares:

But the question was; what to do with these tiny pieces of paper?

The answer: tiny paper cranes!

I do origami the way that many other beaders knit: it's not my primary art form, but I enjoy it in my non-beading time and at this point the process of folding a paper crane is nearly subconscious. I've been known to fold paper cranes out of everything from dinner napkins to those tiny tags on the ends of teabags. So, when I sat that stack of scrap washi paper next to my computer, before I knew it I had a pile of tiny paper cranes. Here are a couple of them with a quarter (left) and a 100-yen coin (right).

Here they are posing with a small Plum Egg beaded bead:

Lounging around with a Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Pendant:

And swimming in a new, as-yet-unnamed design with rizos and rivolis (a "rizoli" design?):

Finally, just to give you an idea of how many I've folded, here's just a sampling of the pile of paper cranes:

Since they're threatening to take over the space next to my computer, I decided to send them out into the world with each kit order from my website. Look for your own tiny paper crane in your next Bead Origami kit order!

If you'd like to fold your own paper crane, this site is a great place to learn how. They're pretty easy to fold, but if it's your first time folding a paper crane, I recommend starting with a larger sheet of paper such as a 6-inch or 8-inch square. Check out some of my previous interludes into paper origami herehere, herehere, here, and here.

Do you have a secondary craft? If so, what is it? Drop me a line in the comments below!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Easter Egg Basket

At about this same time last year I wrote up the Plum Egg beaded bead pattern, which was inspired by an origami structure of the same geometry. At the time I had the idea to make an Easter basket full of these pearly little beaded eggs, but I just didn't get around to it.

An Easter Basket of Beaded Eggs

This year I put together something resembling what I was thinking of; not a whole Easter basket's worth of Plum Eggs, but rather enough of them to fill a small glass candleholder:

These beaded beads were woven from either freshwater pearls or Swarovski crystal pearls, using either the design described in the Plum Egg pattern, or from a smaller variation of the Candy Dodecahedron design.

Would you like to make your own basket of beaded Easter eggs? The pattern for this beaded egg is available at my website!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ways to Wear the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron

After designing the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Pendant, a lingering question on my mind was how to incorporate it into jewelry. I debated using it as a focal piece in a beaded necklace, but it's such an intricate design that it works very well just on its own. The question then is how exactly to string it...

Option 1: String on a Thin Cord

The holes of the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Pendant can easily accommodate a twisted nylon cord. This 3 mm cord will fit through two adjacent holes, but I needed to use a small crochet hook to get the cord through both of them without it getting lost in the middle of the pendant.

Option 2: String on a Chain

Another, slightly easier option is to use a simple chain. With a very thin gold chain, the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Pendant almost looks like it's floating in air.

Option 3: String or Knot on a Silk Ribbon

A third option is to string it through a silk ribbon. I needed to use a large-eye needle to get the ribbon through the pendant, but I experimented with a couple of different ways to string it. The first is through two adjacent holes as shown in the previous two options above:

The next method is through two opposite holes:

I also went back to the two-adjacent-hole stringing method, and I tied a loose knot between the pendant and the rest of the silk ribbon. I like how this knot makes the ribbon form more of a V-shape, but I'm not sure if it really complements the pendant...

Option 4: Combine With the Mini Beaded Bead

The last stringing option that I tried was to string it through adjacent holes with the silk ribbon, and then through the complementary mini beaded bead. I think I like this method better than the knotted method.

The pattern for the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Set, which includes instructions on how to weave the pendant, the mini beaded bead, and a matching pair of earrings, is available exclusively at

What's your favorite way to string a complex beaded pendant?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chocolate Molecules

What's better than beaded molecules from coffee and tea? How about one from chocolate?


Caffeine is just one of a class of molecules called xanthines, which also includes a compound called theobromine. It actually doesn't contain any bromine at all, but it rather gets its name from the plant name Theobroma, from the greek roots "Theo" (God) and "broma" (food), meaning "food of the Gods." And really, is there any better way to describe the tree that gives us chocolate?

Theobromine is the primary alkaloid found in chocolate and cocoa powder, though it's also found in lesser amounts in coffee, tea, and yerba mate. It has a similar but more subtle effect on the nervous system compared to caffeine. Chocolate also contains hundreds of other compounds, including caffeine, a third xanthine called theophylline, and phenethylamine, the so-called "chocolate love chemical."

Caffeine vs. Theobromine

From a structural chemistry point of view, theobromine and caffeine differ in just one way: caffeine has a methyl group where theobromine only has a hydrogen atom at the N1 position. I've circled this difference in their chemical structures below:

So, if we want to make a beaded version of theobromine, all we need to do is weave the structure of caffeine, and leave off that extra methyl group. Can you see where the methyl group sits in this green tea caffeine pendant?

Chocolate-Themed Theobromine Pendants

I tried this variation with chocolate-themed seed beads, and got so carried away with myself that I wove three different theobromine pendants. The first is in carmel chocolate flavors:

The next is a milk chocolate:

And finally, the last is in my favorite of all chocolates, a delicious dark chocolate:

All three pendants are available in my Etsy shop!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Designing Matching Earrings

Too often, I will make a fancy pendant or a necklace without a matching pair of earrings. I come to regret this decision every time I need to go out to a nice dinner or one of my husband's symphony concerts, as my jewelry box gradually fills with either fancy statement necklaces, or casual, everyday earrings. So, after I designed the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Pendant and its matching beaded bead, I took it upon myself to make a matching pair of earrings before calling this project finished.

Design Goal: Matching Earrings for the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Pendant

Before I started, I knew that I wanted the earrings to have a couple of characteristics:
  • The earrings should match the style of the pendant
  • They should contain SuperDuo beads
  • They should be smaller than the pendant but still complement its form.

Option 1: Beaded Beads in a Smaller Symmetry

The first route that I could have taken was to make a pair of Fiberoptic Cube beaded bead earrings, or even a variation on this design. Indeed, I wove triangular prism versions of this design for an earring swap a while back, and for earrings I actually like this variation better than the original Fiberoptic Cubes.

The only problem with this approach is that the square faces of this design don't match the pentagon-shaped faces of the pendant, and I really like how the pendant looks like it is covered with little stars, so I wanted this reflected in the earrings.

Option 2: A Previous Design also with SuperDuos

Another option I could have taken was to match a previous earring design to that of the pendant. For example, I could have explored this idea with the Snowflake earrings:

I didn't take this route because the lacy style of the snowflakes doesn't really match the more clear-cut style of the pendant.

Option 3: A New Design, with a Star like the Pendant

I instead settled on making a new earring design, and I focused on creating just one of the twelve stars present on the original pendant. I first came up with these earrings, which retain the pentagon shape of one of the faces of the pendant, and also use the same types of beads.

The only problem with these earrings is that the stars aren't as pointed as those on the original pendant. This is because I used a slightly simpler thread path to add the 15° seed beads.

Option 4: An Improvement on the New Design

To improve on this earring design, I went back to the lace overlay thread path that is used in the original pendant, and this makes the stars on the earrings nice and pointed!

In this photo, you can really see how the final earring version matches up with the stars on the pendant:


Are you ready to make your very own pendant and earring set? Patterns for the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Set and the Fiberoptic Duo Beaded Beads are available exclusively at!
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