This last weekend I got to take an amazing class with Julie Couch.  My wonderful husband gave me the class as a Christmas gift (perhaps it was all the links I sent him??)

Julie. Is. Amazing.  And an extremely generous teacher.  And somehow she teaches in a way that clicks with me.  The class is all about hollow glass beads, which is my holy grail, the beads I most want to make.  She showed us a technique using stainless steel tubes, a rubber tube attachment, and tongs covered with fireproof material.  The glass was at The Glass Resort in Frederick, Maryland, and Tracey, who manages it, was a wonderful hostess. The set up there was really great:

Here is what I made during class:

And here is what I made on my own at home.  It's always hard to replicate what you learned on your home set up, and I am really happy with how these came out :-)

I've spent the last two days "cleaning my studio" which really meant I made a bunch of stuff because that's easier than figuring out where to put it all :-)  I have a great space in my house to be creative but often weeks and months go by without me doing anything - it's much better to have a deadline - so I plan to participate in as many ABS Challenges as possible this year.  I loved January's inspiration - oranges and greens and yellows make me happy.

Field of Flowers
Egon Schiele

Since I was "cleaning," I dug around my crazy big inventory of beads, and found a tin of beads I had enameled during a Barbara Lewis Painting with Fire class.  The orange was perfect.  Then I dug out some lamp work glass disks that I made in yellow with a little wrap of orange, and two funky green and silver beads bought on a trip to Paris, and some other tiny lamp work beads floating around my workspace. With the green glass beads finishing the necklace, it felt a bit heavy, so I added a silver component on one side to lighten things up.  I love how it came together!

You can see all the January (and previous month's entries) on Pinterest.

Soooo...there is a longish list of places in my house that need some straightening and decluttering, and I decided to start in my studio.  Of course - that's more fun than any other place that needs cleaning :-).  Then I remembered the Heather's Muffin Tin Challenge, and it seemed like a great way to collect up some works-in-progress and give myself a deadline to make some progress.  Of course I had this great idea yesterday, and pictures of my projects should be posted by midnight, tonight (that's 21 minutes from now) so this post will be long on pictures, and short on words!

(You can go HERE to see the other entries)

So here is where I started yesterday morning.  There are more than 6 projects in this tin - the lower left is a collection of repair jobs, so I started there.  First, I replaced the string and clasp on my son's necklace.  It's hard to see due to his dynamite smile and his t-shirt, but it's a simple silver shovel charm (find it on Etsy here).  I bought it for him and he wears it all the time as a reminder to dig deeper and ask questions as he makes his way through high school.

He had a beaded necklace I made a couple years ago that needed a new clasp.  He wanted something simpler (he's 14 now) so we went with this.

This is a very simple and therefore go-with-anything pair of earrings, and of course I lost one.  Luckily I had the parts to make another one, plus I changed the ear wires to something more secure.

Next I tackled an idea that's been kicking around in my head for a while.  I have some metal thread bobbins that I  bought for my sewing machine that aren't the right ones to use. They have holes along both sides, and I had an idea to thread (ha ha!) between them to make a more interesting bead.  I thought initially of seed beads but during my studio clean up, found some beautiful hand dyed ribbon and some beading needles that would work for the ribbon too.

I instantly loved how they looked with the ribbon!

Here's the finished piece - I just used some simple large hole glass beads and more of the ribbon.

During my clean up I also found the crazy large, steam-punky bead and some gear spacers, so even though it didn't start in my tin, I had to put it together.  The focal bead is hollow so it will be very comfortable to wear.

This necklace I started probably a couple years ago and got tripped up because stringing through the holes in the large blue rose made the bead "tippy" and it wouldn't lay flat.  I dug out a bail, and some very strong glue, and fixed my problem.  Then finished the rest of the necklace.  Of course I put the clasp on before trying it on, and it was chocker length.  I'm generally not a fan of wearing a necklace so snugly, so I added the extender.

I don't know here I got this lovely dragon fly pendant, but it's in one of my favorite colors - celadon green.  At a recent bead show I bought the celadon crystals (like in a dollar-a-string bin) and they matched perfectly!

This focal I made a while ago - it's lamp work glass.  I put all the other beads with it (also a while ago), but never put it together...until today :-)  

And finally, this necklace was 80% complete, I just needed to finish stringing the seed beads and add the clasp.  The focal is another lamp work glass bead I made.


I am excited to announce that I am this week's Crafty Superstar over at Cut Out + Keep!  For the next few days I will share here they tutorials I wrote for them.  I haven't written a lot of tutorials so I was super excited to take up the challenge.  Enjoy!

I love beads of all shapes and sizes, but sometimes the prettiest parts are hidden if you string them in the traditional way.  I didn’t want to hide the beautiful colors of the seed bead disks from Sue Kennedy.  These large loop wire earrings solve that problem!

For supplies you’ll need a pair of disk shaped beads, and two lengths of wire.  More is better, but I would go with at least 6 inches for the single bead style and 8 inches for the two bead style.  I highly recommend copper based wire from Parawire which is beautiful, comes in a zillion colors and is very affordable.  The orange beads are my own creation, the ethereal blue/purple beads are from HMB Studios.

For the single bead style, using chain nose pliers, bend the wire 90 degrees in the middle.  

Use wrap and tap pliers (or a sharpie) to bend one side into a large loop.  It should be large enough for the bead to rotate freely.

String the bead onto the wire and position in your loop.  

Using chain nose pliers to grip the loop right below where the wires cross, wrap the horizontal wire around the vertical wire 2-3 times.

Trim the excess of the wrapped wire, and then bend the vertical wire 90 degrees.  

Use the wrap and tap pliers or your sharpie to form a similarly sized loop, so it looks like a figure 8.

Trim the excess wire, a little past were the circle meets.  

Then use chain nose pliers to bend the end out a little.  I find this makes getting the earrings into your ear easier.

Using a chasing hammer and bench block to gently flatten the top/ear part of the earring – this will harden it.  Take care not to hammer your bead!  

You can also gently file the end to smooth it out and make it more comfortable to put in your ear J

The two bead version starts the same way, only start with a little more wire and make your bend at about the 1/3 mark.  Use the 2/3 side to make your loop, and wrap it 1 or 2 times after putting your bead on the loop.  

Then put our accent bead on the short/vertical wire. 

Pull the horizontal wire up and around the accent bead, and then wrap around the vertical wire 2 to 3 times.  The wired wrapped around your accent bead doesn’t need to be too tight.  

Trim off the excess and bend the vertical wire 90 degrees with your chain nose pliers.

Finish the earring as you did the other style by forming the second loop, trimming excess wire, hammering and filing.


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