Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great Things Come In Small Packages!

A while ago, I received an email from Artbeads asking if I'd be interested in sampling and reviewing some of their products in exchange for blogging about them. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate! When I was asked, it was Swarovski month. I was able to choose some CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Elements that I wanted to include in my beading. Who among us can resist the sparkle and beauty of Swarovski crystals? Not me, I love using them!

I knew I would choose some beads that I normally use with bead embroidery, however, I chose some different sizes that I haven't used before. I chose some 2.5mm and 3mm Swarovski Bicones and some 3mm Swarovski Pearls. I was most excited to try some 14mm Swarovski Rivoli Crystals. I have always been inspired by beautiful beaded-bezel cabochon work and know how to peyote stitch using backing material. However, I have wanted to learn open-back bezeling for point-back and irregular-back rivoli crystals or stones. So when I received my package on Labor Day weekend, I pulled out some of my books and magazines for inspiration and taught myself how. You can see how I used these Swarovski Elements in my pieces below.

The first technique I wanted to learn was to make some earrings I admired in the August/September 2009, Beadwork Magazine, by May Brisebois. She used double-needle right-angle weave to encase the rivoli. So I began my journey learning this technique first. I made two pairs of earrings with the 14mm Jet Rivoli Crystals, 3mm Jet Faceted Bicone Crystals, 15/0 sterling silver-plated charlottes with sterling earwires. This technique was fun to learn and the earrings turned out really pretty. They sparkle!

The next pair of earrings I made using the same technique. This time I used 14mm Vitrail Medium Rivoli Crystals, 3mm Vitrail Medium Faceted Bicone Crystals, 15/0 24K gold lined crystal seed beads with gold-filled lever backs. The vitrail medium rivoli is stunning! Depending on how they catch the light, they flash in colors of green, blue, gold, fushia and purple. You really have to admire this crystal in person because it is really hard to capture all the flashes of color in a photo. Including the earwire, these earrings are 1-1/2".

Then I began learning how to encase another vitrail medium rivioli with seed beads. I have really wanted to learn this technique and am thrilled that it is easier than I imagined. Pardon my threads, but I haven't finished these yet. I just wanted to share that I'm on my way bezeling rivolis! I used 11/0 and 15/0 24K gold plated Delica seed beads with 15/0 purple iris charlottes. I will embellish the bezel further with bead picots or more crystals. This is so fun to do and I am so excited that I took the time to learn how. There are so many possibilities...earrings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches and even stitched to fabric. Here is the front...

and this is the back...

I kept moving forward to use some of the Swarovski faceted bicone crystals that I received. The first piece was an unfinished brooch/pendant that was set aside because of other projects. It is a bone carved sun and moon face that we picked up on a memorable trip to the coast. I used one of my most favorite vintage nailheads and beads that are a golden bronze iris color. I completed it with Toho 8/0 black seed beads, 2mm Jet Faceted Round Crystals and 2.5mm Amethyst Faceted Bicone Crystals. I have used many round 2mm crystals, but I love these beautiful and delicate 2.5 mm bicones! They added a nice sparkle of amethyst around the edge. It measures 2-1/2". This is one brooch/pendant that will be staying with me, as it holds fond memories and Mark really likes this one. I'm glad that it is now complete and can go on my black wall of fame bulletin board where I keep and admire small works of art by friends.

I chose a topaz Czech glass dragonfly button for my next brooch/pendant. I used 12/0 and 15/0 3-cut seed beads in gold bronze, 11/0 and 6/0 olive gold luster seed beads and 3mm Copper Faceted Bicone Crystals. I love these and the size. It measures 2-1/2". This brooch is going to the Harvest of Hope's Silent Auction, which is a benefit for Candlelighters For Children With Cancer.

I then chose a beautiful red Czech glass heart button for this brooch/pendant. I used 11/0 seed beads, 13/0 24K gold-plated charlottes, 15/0 seed beads and 9/0 3-cut seed beads in ruby. I used 4mm Siam Round Crystals with 2.5mm Light Siam Faceted Bicone Crystals. It is very rich and really sparkles!

I have wanted to stitch a cuff for awhile now. It must be a natural progression in learning bead embroidery. Did I learn anything? Absolutely! One, again, we do not *whip things up*...*sigh*...I thought I had already learned this lesson! Two, there is a slight radius on the top of a brass cuff blank. After bezeling a large button, I layed it on top of the blank to see how it would look and realized it wasn't going to lay smooth on the cuff. That was okay, I just set it aside for making a flat embroidered cuff later. I didn't get the chance to use the Swarovski Pearls like I hoped, but I will use them in the flat cuff. It will actually be good to make a cuff both ways and see which I like best.

So I changed direction and picked a smaller focal point and cut another piece of Easy Felt. I chose a vintage glass black and bronze cabochon. I used four vintage Swarovski jet flatback rhinestones, vintage bronze faceted seed beads, vintage Czech diamond cut seed beads and bronze bugle beads. I then embellished the cabochon with 2mm Jet Round Crystals with 4mm Jet Faceted Bicone Crystals. Adding the crystals really added texture and brought the cabochon to life and it shines! I edged the cuff in brick stitch with 11/0 Toho black seed beads and it measures 1-1/4" wide.

I thought it would be fun to share both sets of earrings above. Say hi and leave a comment and I'll put your name in a hat. The first name will win the jet rivoli earrings and the second name will win the vitrail medium rivoli earrings. I'll share who won on my next post, Thursday, October 8th.

Thank you Artbeads for your gift and including me! If you haven't signed up for Artbeads newsletter, you really should! Sign up here at the top right of their website. You'll receive special offers, new product information and exclusive coupons. They have the *BEST* sales!!! I love shopping at Artbeads, and I honestly couldn't say enough great things about their company. And, if you didn't know, brand new styles and colors from Swarovski should be arriving any day!

Now to catch up with missed, but not forgotten friends!! See you on Thursday! ~Lisa

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Saying Hi...

I'm back to sharing a post and saying hi. August was a busy month and we've also been facing some changes in our life that didn't leave much time for sharing or creating. When faced with bumps in the road, it sure makes you slow down and remember all that is truly important and what you are grateful for.

August was a busy time spent with our boys, 26 and 21. They bought a house for an investment that closed on 8/5, and they received the keys on 8/7. It was fun and exciting for us to help them move and get settled into their home. They have two other friends living with them (4 bdrm) to help pay the mortgage for now. We don't know how long they will own this house (probably until one or the other finds his soul mate), but they are both good friends...good brothers...and are happy to own a home versus paying rent. It's definitely a bachelor pad with four guys living together...but a nice one! ;-)

During this time, I wasn't stitching like I normally do. I did squeeze in a few things, but not much. I began stitching again this past weekend...which is a good thing! Although I am finishing up my BJP's, I also have started a few new pieces that I am excited about and will share soon. I definitely will be contributing one or two of them to the Harvest of Hope. It is a charity fundraising dinner/auction benefiting Candlelighters For Children With Cancer, a non-profit organization that provides support, education, advocacy and hope to the families whose lives have been affected by childhood cancer. If you are interested in contributing a piece for the silent auction, which is October 24th, please visit their web site for the details.

We've been enjoying plenty from our garden this summer and are still eating lots of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. The change in season is definitely upon us...the evening and morning air is cool and the maples are beginning to turn color. The hottest days are behind us, thank goodness, but I'm sure not ready for the sunshine to go. My camera is always near and dear to me and I thought I'd share a few pictures of what's been blooming.

I planted lots of different sunflowers this year. The Mammoth sunflowers are huge and are about 12 feet tall. We have cut some flower heads down and are drying them to later share with the birds and squirrels.

These sunflowers are Velvet Queen and Lemon Queen. They are about 6 feet tall and have provided many big and cheerful bouquets through the summer. I just love them!

I made two more sunflower brooch/pendants for friends and here is a picture of one. These are a bit different from my last post because I made them both bigger and bolder. I was lucky to buy four of these buttons and thought that now is the perfect time to share them. I used the same amber/topaz AB vintage beads and 2 mm Swarvoski copper cystals, but I used Japanese 11/0's and 15/0 true cuts this time to peyote stitch around the Czech glass button.

I planted purple morning glory and it did really well this year. I love the glow of light that shines from the inside of these flowers and their heart shaped leaves!

Up close and personal is a bumble bee enjoying the Liatris (gayfeather).

Oriental Lilies...they are beautiful and very fragrant.

We've enjoyed many twilight skies from our deck...

and a few sunrises too. Always the reminder that it's a new day!

Hope you are doing well and I'll see you soon! Keep smiling...~Lisa