Archive | Beads RSS feed for this section

My Lovely Beads

28 Jan

Zoya Gutina: Jewelry Designer
Zoya at My Lovely Beads works with seed beads, but she also creates designer gemstone jewelry, and much of her work is a combination of the two. She is well-known for her intricate designs using tiny seed beads. In 2007, she won first place in the Rings & Things Design Contest in the Glass category for her design, Aquamarine Morning and Amethyst Night Necklace.

This necklace perfectly illustrates the way she uses seed beads and gemstones in the same design:

handcrafted jewelry
Amber Lace Necklace
Seed beads and Amber gemstones

This is one of Zoya's gemstone creations. I love the big hunk of Agate in this design:

designer gemstone jewelry
Lone Leaf Necklace
Agate, Tiger Eye, Mother of Pearl

Artist Statement

During my childhood in the USSR, my mother taught me to sew and knit, both with hooks and needles. I really took to needlework, and have continued its pursuit in all of its variants during all of my life. Very many different categories of objects have been produced for my children, my family, my good friends, and myself.

Also, during my childhood, I became familiar with bead work. At that time I was studying ballet, and needed a dress for practicing. A dress was sewn for me. However, I decided to decorate it, and sewed a gentle bead work flower onto my chest. The beads were a transparent yellow color, very pale, and the dress was of a cream-colored material. At that time I felt was an appropriate combination, and I was right. It looked very pretty.

When I came to the USA about 10 years ago, I decided to continue my bead work. I scurried around, trying to acquire everything about bead work, but it turned out that too few books were available. At that point, I started to experiment by myself, with beads of a whole range of various dimensions, and with gemstones.

The experimentation started to bear fruit, and were my first serious efforts. In a while I was invited to participate in selling my handicrafts at an art market in Manhattan. It gave me a good feeling of encouragement, that my artifacts are desired and appreciated.

Inspirations for my designs come to me night and day. At night, when I close my eyes, fantastic colors and forms of my future efforts appear before me. Often, I cannot even find beads of those colors. During the day, images appear when I see flowering trees outside, or just flowers in the spring; during the winter, geometric frozen shapes; and then during sunrise and sunset.

Potomac Craftsmen Gallery

Czech Glass Beads

24 Jan

Czech pressed glass beads are made in the Czech Republic the traditional way, by pressing hot glass into a heated mold. The 19th century was a period of industrial innovation, and new machines that could produce a wide variety of beads were developed.

This meant that thousands of identical beads could be turned out quickly and inexpensively, but the process of making the molds was difficult. Cottage crafters were given several molds for each bead press, and turned out beads to order for their local factory.

The Czechs became the masters of pressed glass. Most of this work is still done in rural areas with small family-operated factories. Glass finishes are added in the final step, many of the luster coatings are made with heated metals including gold.

Czech beads
Czech Glass Leaf Beads

Thick rods of glass are heated to molten and fed into a machine that stamps the glass, including a needle that pierces a hole. The beads again are rolled in hot sand to remove flashing and soften seam lines. By making canes (the glass rods fed into the machine) striped or otherwise patterned, the resulting beads can be more elaborately colored than seed beads.

glass beads
Czech Glass Window-cut Heart Beads
Blue with bronze luster coated edges

Czech Glass Beads are greatly valued because of the high quality and tremendous variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and finishes. The term table-cut or window-cut refers to a molded bead shape, usually with a matte finish or luster coating applied that has then had slices or facets cut off and polished to reveal the glass beneath.

bead jewelry
Czech Glass Milky Luminous Pink
Flat pear pendant bead with hole running through thin end at top

Matte glass is achieved by dipping the bead into an acid etching solution. The many shapes available are often reproductions of vintage glass molds from the 1920s to the 1950s. Some shapes have been created more recently such as cats, butterflies, fish and turtles.

Glass Beadmaking
Czech Glass Beads
History of Czech Glass

Humble Beads

20 Jan

This post began with researching art beads, but then I found Humble Beads by Heather Powers. And I fell in love with this lady's beads. I know there are lots of beads out there in the marketplace, but I think these beads are exceptional.

The Colors
The interplay of colors speaks to my artsy side. And why wouldn't they? Many of them are inspired by Impressionist paintings. The colors of the beads coordinate and complement each other beautifully.

Art Inspired Beads
Beads that take their inspiration from Heather's favorite painters and designers. All beads are handcrafted from polymer clay and buffed to a matte finish.

polymer clay beads
Monet's Garden Bead
Inspired by watery hues and brush strokes of Monet's water lily paintings. This bead can be made into a cuff bracelet or a pendant. Each one is a unique mini-masterpiece.

Cuff Beads
There are six horizontal holes the size of a standard head-pin in the bead pictured above. So you can string a strand of beads or whatever through the holes to make a cuff bracelet, like this:

designer jewelry bracelet
Raspberry Cuff Bracelet
Bold cuff features a garnet, cream, & purple art bead with six strands of seed beads on memory wire. This cuff opens from the top to wrap around your wrist. The wire will never lose its shape. This design has been featured in Bead Style Magazine, Bead & Button's Beading Essentials, and on PBS' Beads, Baubles & Jewels.

Artist's Info
Heather Powers is an innovative bead and jewelry artist, creating art beads collected by bead enthusiasts all over the world. Her work has been featured on television, in magazines and books. Her mixed media jewelry designs are sold locally at art galleries and markets. Heather graduated from art school with a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from Kendall College of Art & Design. She lives in San Antonio where she is a work-at-home mom, balancing business and family.

Beadmaking tips
Van Gogh's Starry Night Disk Beads
Inspired by the colors and texture of Van Gogh's Starry Night painting. Stars of yellow and gold swirl around the midnight blue sky.

Heather also sells Jewelry Kits, for two of her most popular bracelets and a lariat necklace. Everything you need is included, so you can make your own masterpiece!

Absolutely gorgeous!

Heather is a very generous bead artist. Visit her Tips for Artists and Polymer Clay Bead Making Tips pages for lots of helpful information. I found these articles especially interesting:

Shell Bead Tutorial
Practice Makes Perfect
Translucent Clay
Stamped Beads

For additional information, visit the Art Bead Scene Blog

Cloisonné Beads

13 Jan

Cloisonné is a distinctive art form that was developed in China in the 13th century, and it has grown to be one of China's number one exports. The making of cloisonné requires several processes: hammering, wire inlay, soldering, enamel-filling, enamel-firing, polishing, and gilding. The wire work in Cloisonné beads can be flush with the enamel or it can be raised to create a 3-dimensional look. The wire can also be twisted to add more interest.

handcrafted jewelry beads
Round Light Blue Butterfly Cloisonné Bead

Cloisonné beads are created by soldering thin metal wire partitions to a base bead to act as a color separator. A powdered colored glass paste is then painted between the partitions. After a firing and polishing process, the bead is electroplated with a gold or silver film, and a beautiful bead is born.

handmade cloisonné beads
Oval Blue/Pink/Yellow Flower Cloisonné Bead

The Process

  • The artist forms delicate strips of metal-copper, bronze, or silver-to create a design. The bends are all done at right angles, so the wire doesn't curl up. This is done with small pliers, tweezers, and custom made jigs. The cloisonné wire pattern may consist of several intricately constructed wire patterns that fit together into a larger design.
  • The wire pattern is soldered to the metal base. Using an alternative technique, the base is covered with a thin layer of clear enamel, then fired in a kiln. The cloisonné wire is then glued to the enamel surface with gum. When the gum has dried, the piece is fired again to fuse the cloisonné wire to the clear enamel. The gum burns off, leaving no residue.
  • The artist then drops colored enamels inside the partitions of the wire pattern, similar to the paint-by-numbers technique. Various colors and transparencies can be used within the same partition to obtain the desired appearance.
  • After the enamel has dried, the artist fires the piece in a kiln, which melts the enamel onto the base. Several firings may be necessary in order to build up the coatings to the height of the partitions.
  • The exposed metal is electroplated with a thin film of gold or silver to provide shine and prevent corrosion.
  • Finally, the bead is fired and polished several times to enhance the bright colors, and to produce the desired effect.
    Cloisonné Beads
    Wikipedia: Cloisonné
    Cloisonné Beading Process

Polymer Clay Bead Beauty

21 Dec

Polymer Clay Bead Beauty

Lori Mendelhall makes beautiful polymer beads. As a lover of beads but a complete ingenue, I am struck with the glorious, swirling colors as well as Lori's whimsical shapes, like this abstract heart above. The smooth, chunky feel of this bead along with the integral copper bale (read: hook for the chain) make it not only a treat for the eyes, but for the hands as well. Her beads are like a big yummy piece of candy…only unlike a sticky candy necklace or lolipop, they last!

Lori is a New Yorker moved-to-Cali who began making clay beads about three years ago. Intrigued with the process, she's found two techniques that she particularly loves: the Japanese technique of mokume gane (which deserves its own post, gentle readers) and swirling. She lauds the latter, saying: "

It's quite simple yet the results are fabulous. It all begins by creating a small ball of clay comprised of two or more colors. Complicated cane slices can be added for extra interest. The ball is then rolled using a flat tile on top until a bicone shape appears. Once the bicone forms, the colors will begin to swirl together. Once the swirl is to the desired point the bicone is flattened into a disc shape. At this point the bead can either be left as is or formed into an number of shapes…". Here you can really see the swirly goodness in her bracelet Galaxy:

Lori transforms her beads into other beautiful shapes as well as the traditional. I fell in love with these Cala Lily earrings – the form is organic and very true-to-life and then with the unusual colors, they are really striking…and also very wearable!

Beautiful beaded jewelry by a beauty herself, Lori's line is aptly called Sparklebee, and can be bought on her own website, as well as on Etsy. You can also email Lori at


Neat Beaded Bracelet

14 Dec

Neat Beaded Bracelet

I'm the first to admit that I am probably the only jeweler on earth who knows nothing about beading. I can fabricate, forge, weld, solder, form, pierce, and otherwise manipulate metal. I love the spirit of DIY in general…but I am intimidated by the art of beading. Ridiculous, I can hear your say! Well, it's true. However, luckily there are projects which even I can get my head around. I recently found this cool one in The Detroit News: a twisted beaded bracelet designed by Kathy Mamat set with grape-like bunches of beautiful beads of all kinds. Mamat learned beading from a local supply store, and turned her passion into her profession by teaching classes of her own. Some of her designs can be found in Beader's Stash: Designs from America's Favorite Bead Shops as well as beading magazines…and you can see why.

The directions for making this arresting yet simple bracelet can be found here.


Not Fishy Jewelry

6 Nov

Not Fishy Jewelry

You'll find nothing fishing about Manic Trout jewelry, a jewelry and art company owned and operated by Sierra Bailey. Along with lots of great beaded jewelry, you'll find some of her artwork as well and her thoughts about being an artist on her site's blog:

Manic Trout is where you can find all of independent artist and jewelry designer Sierra Bailey's fine art and beautiful things.

Sierra designs and creates handmade jewelry that is both colorful and unique and always fun to wear. You will always stand out in the crowd wearing an original design from Manic Trout!

Pictured is a necklace she calls Sabita Cosmic Autumn Rebellion Necklace: Vintage brass creates the perfect foundation for jade, carnelian and buri root. A large carved carnelian flower hangs center, the necklace is finished with a vintage brass clasp.

Vintage brass chain, jade, buri root, carnelian and vintage brass spring ring.

Though Sierra makes earrings and bracelets as well, I really think her necklaces stand out.

Sarah Bitter Sweet Symphony Necklace

Glass round faceted aqua blue beads, green round czech glass beads and blue tile beads provide a lovely backdrop for a beautiful aqua and turquoise Meena enameled, rhinestone and goldplate over sterling silver Minikari star hanging from the center.


Teodora All I Want Necklace

Vintage brass intertwines with ruby red glass, smoky quartz and bright cherry quartz. An ornate vintage brass locket hangs from the center. Finished with a hand made brass hook and eye clasp.

Novice Jewelry Designer Stumbles Into Beads

15 Oct

Novice Jewelry Designer Stumbles Into Beads

Such a story book ending for this beginning jewelry designer – she discovers beads one day and the next is flying of to Paris to show her collection along with some of the big name clothing designers of our day. It's enough to make a beader aventurine-green with envy. From Beginner's luck works for McClintock:

Karen McClintock didn't set out to become a jewelry designer.

In fact, no one could be more surprised by her success than McClintock herself.

"I still can't believe this is happening," the 43-year-old Ottawa-based designer said repeatedly during the week we shared in Paris recently with Canadian fashion icon Linda Lundstrom.

"How did I get here? It's surreal," she said, her utter amazement – and delight – evident.

Things just seem to keep falling into place for McClintock, who has quickly become known as one of Canada's hottest up-and-coming jewelry designers.

It all started about two years ago – as a bit of a fluke, actually. While getting ready for a garage sale, McClintock came across an old necklace, which she was convinced she could "improve."

"I knew nothing (about making jewelry)," she admitted.

So she headed over to the craft department at her local Wal-Mart and picked up what she thought she'd need to re-string a few necklaces for the garage sale.

They sold like hotcakes. And she was hooked.

I couldn't find her web site – she may not have one – but I did find some of her jewelry over at Sheperds's Fashions. It's very chunky and full of lots of luscious beads with some chain here and there as well.


Blooming Beaded Jewelry

5 Jun

Blooming Beaded Jewelry

As a bead-lover, I never get tired of quality beaded jewelry, and I appreciate it when a designer is able to incorporate beads that many of jewelers might use but still manage to create unique jewelry with them. jewelry design Cynthia Bloom has done this by included beautiful crystal class button pendants to some of her creations.

For example, here is a purple button pendant and crystal necklace. The button was hand-painted with accents of gold and kiln fired. The molds for the buttons are vintage Czech, circa 1910-1920.


Obviously, Bloom is not the first to use a button as a pendant, but by using unique molds and creating her own components, her work becomes a step up from the average beaded jewelry.


Strand Mom on Her Day

20 Apr

Strand Mom on Her Day

Mother's Day is on the way, and that means you BETTER get something m-o-m like n-o-w! Jewelry, of course, is always appreciated. If you are not exactly sure what to get for her, consider a jewelry piece that incorporates birthstones from all of her beloved children.

Stranded has all kinds of gemstone beaded and wire jewelry, so I went virtual shopping over there. Pictured is a necklace full of different colored tourmaline gemstone beads.

Even if you don't know for sure whose birthstone is whose, you can get her something colorful to just cover all the bases.

This is another necklace with a mix of gemstone colors, this time all made of quartz.

These earrings use a similar approach, again with multi-colored quartz chip beads dangling from pieces of chain.