Bangles for BIG Girls...Bangles for PETITE Girls.... Bangles for AVERAGE Girls!

Bangles for BIG Girls...Bangles for PETITE Girls.... Bangles for AVERAGE Girls!
Add a touch of colour to your outfits with these fun and colourful resin bangles, sized to suit girls of all sizes. Magnetic clasps make these ideal for girls who find it hard to get a traditional bangle on their wrist. And they're available in a range of colours with different focals. Check them out in the Resin Jewellery Shop!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's a Cats Life!

The weather in Brisbane has turned quite summery these past few weeks and gone are the cool nights when my little kitty kat sought out a warm lap to curl up in. Instead she has now taken to spreading herself out as far as she can on the tiled floor to cool off. Who can blame her - she hasn't shed her winter coat yet!

So it's not unusual for her to lay on the studio floor in wait for fallen beads to skate crazily across it. Chasing beads is one of her favourite past-times but tonight she reckons there wasn't enough action down there so she joined me on the beading table where she could create a little bit of mischief and "accidentally" knock a few beads on to the floor. Gotta love the way kitty kat thinks!

After a few minutes excitement she joined me back on the table..... intently watching what I was doing.
And then she lay down her head on her paws and had a nap.

Next day, and she's plonked herself right back in the middle of my work space again......
Impossible! How are you supposed to work around that?!!

Oh..... it's a cat's life!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kashmiri Opulence Jewellery Class

I really respect people who work in warehouses picking orders. It's a tough job making sure you get everything right. People expect to get what they ordered, so the pressure is on the pickers to get it right. Very occasionally, and by that I mean RARELY do my orders ever turn up with incorrect items in them.

But what do you do when the beads ordered for a class arrive from overseas 4 days before your class and they are not what you ordered?

Why, you redesign the project of course!

So for tonight's workshop, instead of doing this:

or this:

you'll be doing this:
AND this:

or this:
 AND this:
And all for the same price.  What a bonus: you get to create 2 necklaces instead of 1.

Hope you like the new designs! 

Happy crafting.....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rolled, Nail Polished and Strung

After "nail polishing" the handmade paper beads yesterday it's now time to see how they look when they're combined with more conventional beads.

I've got to say I am pretty pleased with the way the beads work together and I'm even more pleased with how well this piece sits when worn.

I ended up using two different shades of nail polish: the gorgeous burgundy colour you saw me paint with in yesterday's tutorial and also a mica filled silver. The silver is almost transparent so whilst you see the beautiful glimmer from the mica, you also get to see the magazine print on the beads. It's an interesting look.

I also left some of the beads uncoloured because they coordinated well with the aquamarine Kashmiri beads I've used in this piece. You can just see one at the top of this image.... sorry I cut the rest of it off!

I love the daisy spacers connecting the beads together. There are no holes in them though so I had to get creative to attach them. Large oval shaped jump rings worked well for the body of the necklace but the challenge was really in how to attach the focal magenta paper bead and the dangles. I solved the problem by joining two vine shaped connectors (very appropriate for a flower) together with jump rings so that one sits flush with the front and one sits flush on the back of the flower spacer. It's difficult to make it out in the photo below but they're connected through the hole in the centre and also on the outside edge.

But this left me with a jump ring that is sitting horizontally and not vertically. So instead of using an eyepin to connect the next section I used a head pin with a 3mm silver bead on it to act as a stopper inside the horizontal jump ring! Then it was just a matter of threading on the gorgeous magenta focal bead (one of my special pick ups from CHA), turning a loop and connecting the beaded chains.

So what do you think? Who would have thought paper beads could look so good!

'Til next time.....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Use it Up - Recolouring Paper Beads

So, now I have a small handful of handmade paper beads. What to do with them next?

When you roll your paper beads from magazines and junk mail you really don't know how they'll look until you've rolled them. After all, the only bits that show are the very edges and they are often multi coloured but with a fair bit of black patterning. So what do you do when you don't like the colour of some of the beads?

Why, you recolour them of course!

I've decided to brighten them up with nail polish.
About the only time I get to use nail polish is when I'm on vacation. Most of the time, my hands take a fair bit of punishment because they are always in some sort of arty stuff which will either chip the nail polish, partially remove it or generally make it look untidy. So when I buy a new nail colour, it gets used for a couple of weeks and then doesn't get used again for another year. So this is going to be a "use it up" project!

Painting the beads with nail polish is a straight forward process.... just place the bead back on the bead roller or on a needle tool and begin to paint.
This gorgeous burgundy colour from Sephora went on really easily and didn't dry too quickly which meant I was able to get all the way around the bead before the leading edge had dried so you couldn't see where I'd started.
Just continue painting the bead until it's fully coloured. I was fairly generous with the nail varnish just as if I was painting my nails but I didn't put it on so thickly that it was dripping.

After one coat they were looking a little patchy so they will definitely need a second coat. I always find it better to do thinner coats and apply a couple of layers rather than do one really thick coat.

Well, so far so good. I love the colour they've turned out. Now it's just wait and see how durable the nail polish is as a colouring medium. I'll make them up into jewellery to test them out.

I hope you'll come back soon to see how it worked out!

'Til then.......

Paper Bead Jewellery

Oh what fun! I've been playing with the paper bead rolling kit that I brought home with me from CHA earlier in the year. Those brightly coloured strands of paper beads hanging up in the booth of Aubrey's Paper Beads were so enticing that I couldn't resist temptation and I bought several strands.

But I also bought the kit to make my own!

One thing I discovered is that getting even beads is not as easy as it seems. I don't know how many strips of paper I unravelled and re-rolled because my beads were lopsided! It's a good thing that the kit comes with pre-cut magazine strips so that at least all your beads will be the same size, if only you can roll them straight!

Anyway, this is how easy it is to roll your own paper beads. Firstly, place the straight end of the strip of paper along the metal part of the tool.....

and then begin to roll. Roll as straight as you can - it's really easy to get off line and end up with a lopsided bead. If that happens, just unravel it and re-roll until you get it right.

I like to add a bit of adhesive along the strip as I go. I used Mod Podge but use whatever paper adhesive you have on hand. It's a bit of a messy process but it ensures the bead won't unravel.

Once you get it started, just keep rolling......

......and rolling, until you get to the end of the strip. Glue it in place to secure.
How easy is that?!!  Now you can slide the bead off the tool and you're ready to make another bead.

It is a strangely satisfying process - your recycling efforts are rewarded with a bunch of handmade beads ready to incorporate into your next jewellery project. 

Check back in tomorrow to see what I do with them next!

'Til then.......

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Golden Cockerel

Earlier in the week, I had been rummaging around my bead drawers to see what had become lost/buried/forgotten and I found a little treasure amongst the tangle of strands which I haven't yet found homes for: a string of darling chicken/rooster beads.

I couldn't resist them. They were bright and colourful and just so darn cheery! I knew right away they would become barnyard inspired earrings. But I still can't decide if they are hens or roosters!

Aren't they fun? Their cute little wire feet add just a touch of whimsy.

The Golden Cockerel earrings are available for purchase in my etsy shop, MillLaneStudio. Yes, my Etsy shop has undergone a name change. You can still find my listings under MHdesign but to keep everything uniform, you can now also find me listed under MillLaneStudio.

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

That's My Design!

Today I'm going to take you back in time to a bangle challenge I was set at CHA last year: decorate seven prototype, oval-shaped Diy Bangles with only the materials I had on hand in my hotel room.
And the reason for the challenge? Well, it was to come up with a bangle design for the packaging of the new Diy Bangles oval shaped bangle.

Here's 6 of the designs:

But in all, I designed 7 bangles and the one that Diy Bangles selected as the image design for the packaging was Zentangle Bangle!

And here it is, on the packaging......
Image courtesy of Diy Bangles
You have to look closely, but you can even see my name on the inside!
Image courtesy of Diy Bangles
Diy Bangles are really a lot of fun to play around with and they make great personalised gifts. With Christmas not too far away, why not grab yourself a Diy Bangle and decorate it for someone on your Christmas list. If you're stuck for ideas, check out all seven tutorials for the bangles by clicking here.

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Moonlight and Pearls - Rose Spray Necklace

I did it! I solved my little design challenge AND used up almost all the remaining beads from the four necklaces. So now I'll let you in on what the challenges were and how I solved them.

For this last piece I was planning a simple double strand floating necklace. Pearls always look great when strung this way so I created a 40" length of floating beads on white tiger tail. I decided to try out my magic crimping tool to turn the crimp tubes into beads so that they would match the mini silver beads from the original necklace. As I worked on it I kept thinking how crisp the white tiger tail looked against the pearls and silver spacers. It was hard work crimping those tubes into balls but it was worth the effort... it was looking really good! But when I tried it on I hated it: the white tiger tail made the silver beads look too dark and it had no focal point!
So a rethink of the design was in order.

I decided to cut the length in half and make a single stranded floating necklace and add a focal with dangles. I found the perfect flower pendant which I'd bought only a couple of days ago. It has quite a large bail attached at the top of it which would have been great if it was strung on a thick stringing material but not so good for tiger tail. So I had to figure out how to connect my length of beaded tiger tail to the pendant without the join showing. I couldn't just string it on: the bail was big, but not big enough to slide over the beads I'd crimped onto the tiger tail. Hmmm.... a conundrum!
At this point I walked away from the beading table for a while. Sometimes you need to mull over a problem before you tackle it. What I needed to come up with was a neat and secure solution. And then it came to me: thread both ends through the bail and crimp the two lengths on either side of the bail. A crimp cover hides the crimps as well as securing the bail in place!
Now for the dangles. I had to cut apart the other beaded length to get this idea to work.... it was a shame to undo all that hard work - it had taken more than a couple of hours to turn all those crimp tubes into beads! But there were no more beads to use, so there was no choice.

But first things first.... I need to secure a bunch of tiger tail dangles behind the flower so that the dangles will sit nicely. Lucky for the big bail after all!

I threaded them all through the bail and crimped them with my Mighty Crimper and a No. 4 crimping tube.
I don't have bead covers large enough to cover a No. 4 crimp but it still looks neat.

Now for the finishing touch: the dangles. I threaded the crimps and beads on in the same pattern I used on the floating strand.

but this time I crimped right near the end of each dangle.....

and then, right above the top bead to keep them all in place.

I love the way the dangles turned out.

And the finished floating necklace too.

This has been a great exercise to stretch my thinking laterally. Finding solutions to challenges like this is really satisfying too.

And now that there are so few beads left to work with, I think I will put this collection aside. And yes, I am officially calling Moonlight and Pearls a collection now: there are 6 pairs of earrings, one bracelet and three necklaces - all coordinating, all of which can be mixed and matched to tell a story and all designed by one designer. Yes, all the boxes are now ticked.... it's a collection!

'Til next time.....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moonlight and Pearls - The Rose Vine

At the end of my last post I hinted that there might be just one more piece of jewellery to add to the Moonlight and Pearls mini collection.

You might recall that I started out on this quest with four necklace strands consisting of moonshine beads, ivory potato pearls and silver spacer beads. After making a double stranded necklace, 6 pairs of earrings and a bracelet/cuff, all I had left was one moonshine bead, a pearl and a small handful each of silver spacers and the mini silver balls.

Well, it turns out that I can't count.... I actually had no moonshine beads left. I'm not sure how you can miscount just one bead but I did. And then I re counted the earrings and it turns out that I had actually made 7 pairs of earrings not six. The seventh pair is very similar to the ones I made for my Mum so I pulled them apart and now I have two moonshine beads to play with. Yay!

So here's how I used the last couple of the focal beads.
With the addition of some similar beads from my stash I've been able to make the last few beads stretch as far as possible. I picked up the strand of freshwater pearls from Vinnies for just $1.... what a find!
It's amazing how far you can make beads go when you put your mind to it.

Want to see what I did with the last few silver spacers and mini silver balls? Well, I've come up with a design, but making it work is proving to be a bit of a challenge. I hope you'll check back in with me tomorrow to see how it went.

'Til then.....

Monday, November 7, 2011

What is a Collection?

Since creating the collection of Moonlight and Pearl earrings last the week, I have been pondering a question:

"What defines a collection?"

At first glance, a collection would seem to be grouping of items with a common theme. But when I started to think about what comprises a collection in fashion or jewellery, there seemed to be more to it. In fashion and jewellery you can't just throw a group of disparate items together and consider it a collection. So I did a little research and this is what I learned:
  1. A collection is made up of a number of pieces which coordinate to tell a trend/story/theme
  2. The individual pieces can be worn in different combinations to create a set or a look
  3. All the pieces are designed by the same designer.
So, is it OK to call my Moonlight and Pearls collection "a collection"?

Well, let's see if the criteria fits!

At first I would have said no because all the pieces are earrings. But, if you add in the original necklace and the restrung double stranded necklace, then maybe. But I think it needs more pieces to qualify so I've added a bracelet/cuff to the collection.
OK, I think now it just scrapes through the first point so let's give that a tick.

Point No. 2: with the necklace and the bracelet/cuff included in the set, the pieces can now be worn in different combinations; limited combinations, but combinations none the less! So point number 2 gets a tick.

And now for the third point: designed by the same designer. Well, I didn't design the original necklace and the extent of my designing for the double stranded necklace was limited to restringing it and adding a second strand. Sadly, a restring doesn't qualify for designing it which means that the necklaces don't count.

My conclusion from all this is that Moonlight and Pearls is not a collection in the true sense of the word..... but perhaps the earrings qualify as a mini collection.

From the original 4 strands of beads I've created a double stranded necklace, 6 pairs of earrings and a cuff/bracelet. And all that I have left is just one moonshine bead, one pearl, a handful of silver spacers and the mini silver balls left. Want to see what I can do with these?

I'm sure there is another piece of jewellery in there.... perhaps I can make Moonlight and Pearls into a collection yet!

Stay tuned!


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