Born To Be Worn by S & T Creations

Archive for the ‘Kalmbach Books’ Category

Jewelry for the New Romantic by Nealay Patel has several surprising beautiful designs.  Nealay hit upon the idea of using beading wire as part of her jewelry design.  His creativity led to this book of designs.  Coated beading wire is no longer a means to an end.  It becomes an integral part of the design itself.

First, you see the design on the cover, where gold beading wire forms perfect loops, with gorgeous Pacific Opal bicones that connect 2 loops, forming figure 8s.  But the focal point of this design is what draws the eye. It’s a series of golden wire loops and bead dangles, along with short links of chain.  The beading wire loops look soft, very feminine.  It is just sturdy enough not to fall and droop.  Yet, unlike regular beading wire, these aren’t stiff, won’t bend and become smashed.  I love the delicate look.  I turned to that project first, and was pleased to see that project, and many more, show variations on the theme, and how to use the instructions to make matching earrings, and in this case, a matching bracelet too.  The earrings look positively fun all by themselves.  Loops of that gold beading wire have a few crystals to catch the light, then a single jump ring below contains small chain, bicone links, and small links.  I think these could be made separately and be a great item for shows.

After seeing these, I skimmed through looking at other earrings in the book.  The Golden Knights design also has a great earring design.  Nealay took a brighter golden beading wire this time and made a series of loops around a central crystal bicone.  But these loops all went the same direction.  They reminded me of looking at drawings of moons going around a planet, only in this case, up and down, instead of the around we usually think of.  On these loops were small gold beads and crystals, with tiny crimps holding them up.  There was another small cluster of beads at the very bottom of these loops.

I found 1 other design that was very different.  She created beaded square frames that were open in the middle.  Inside these were various looks of beading wire, all different. And on these small loopes were various beads and crystals, in colors that match the frames.  He had attached these to form large links, but even a single one would make a great pendant.  And, again, he showed smaller ones for earrings.

I love the way Nealay took beading wire beyond its typical “hidden” state and brought it to the forefront.  He has yet another design where loops form dangling drops, so they are interspersed along a necklace, with cluster of 2 or 3 near the end of a lariat design.  Very fetching.  And again, I must say it is the look of the beading wire that seems at once elegant and feminine, yet strong and dramatic.

If you work with small beads, you will love this book.  And if you don’t, you need this book to expand your own creativity in how you can use beading wire as an integral part of your designs.  One large focal pendant, or loops connecting larger lampwork or polymer clay beads would be a beautiful way to step off from Nealay’s designs into your own projects.

A NEW BOOK in the mail today!  Creative Chain Mail Jewelry is a new publication from Kalmbach Books.  It consists of 29 projects from two jewelry-making magazines:  Art Jewelry"" and Bead & Button publications in the last year.

The book describes silver, gold and niobium wire – it’s interesting how niobium gets all its great colors! I was a bit disappointed that the descriptions stopped there.  A quick flip through the book and my suspicion was confirmed.  The book doesn’t discuss or include “alternate” metals, like copper or bronze, in any of the designs. 😦 Now, of course, we can all use different wire, but I do wish these were at least included in 1 or 2 designs.  So, with a note that these metals are missing, there are examples with rubber rings and artistic colored wire.  I really like the addition of color.  The contrast can produce amazing eye candy (and wrist candy, earlobe candy, etc.).

There is a great section that covers annealing, solder, tumbling and liver of sulpher patinas. Just those first few pages will take you through the basics and beyond in terms of working with wire and metal!  Once I started flipping through the projects, I must admit I loved what I saw.  A box chain using niobium wire (design by Hazel Wheaton) was stunning, as well as a piece called Hoopla (by Kimberly Berlin) with two options, one using lovely silver spirals.

One of the first I will try is a pair of Circular Chain Mail earrings, by Sandy Amazeen.  They look like round hoop earrings, with chain mail links filling the interior. By selecting colored wire, the centers can have a flower-petal look, or bolder colors for more dramatic details.  Right after that was an asymmetric necklace named Crystal Constellations my Miachelle DePiano.  It requires 4 sizes of jump rings/wire and 2 sizes of crystals, bicone or round.  I really like the asymmetry with all the metal links.  There are only 9 crystals, so they look like small drops of color in a cascade of silver. A second project by Miachelle described a new idea for me.  She demonstrates how to create a 3 dimensional look by creating a tube chain mail design.  The look is very substantial, lending a larger more dramatic design while still using smaller wire gauges that are much easier to join.

John Wik designed a chain mail bezel with a woven-in bail for a guitar-pick pendant!  I’ve seen the guitar pick earrings in many shops and stores, but this design is great!  The chain mail bezel accentuates the curves of the guitar pick.  The jump ring links seem to hug the picks and protect them, while adding an artistic frame.  If you know anyone who plays a guitar or works with a band, this is a great piece!  I’m going to have to find out more about guitar picks.  There are so many colors and designs out there—this one project could create many different pieces!

  Heather Powers has created another great beading book!  As you may know, I do love designs that have pieces that mimic nature.  Shells, starfish, and ocean glass are all lovely to me, as well as leaves, acorns, feathers, butterflies, ladybugs, and more.  I’m not partial to flowers, in general, but every once in a while something will catch my eye and I’ll work with it.

One of the unusual things in this book that I found fascinating were the glimpses of Heather’s sketchbook.  Since I don’t design that way, I love to look at other’s sketches to see how they come upon a design.  Then, you can actually see her transform her sketch into reality.  Other designs show how she took colors from nature and put them in her design, whether it was a gorgeous flower, a beautiful sunset, or the colors of the ocean.

One of the things to remember about nature and designs that focus upon it, is the great use of alternative metals.  Lots of patinas, brass, bronze and copper abound in this book.  Several examples of unusual findings, and also ways to create your own wire frame for a bead or for a short row of them.  And Heather has several examples of breaking that old rule of only type of metal in a design.  She mixes gold and brass, vintage copper patina with new copper links.  In Jewelry Designs from Nature you will also see examples of how Heather incorporates words, either with stamped metal or with combinations of resin/decoupage, into these works that mimic reality.  The messages can be subtle or bold, and are flanked by birds, leaves and dragonflies.

I believe this is one of the first books where I have been more interested in the “how” the author came up with the design, than in the actual instructions for the end result.  I want to leave you with a quote from Heather, “My jewelry is more than just adding a bead to a string; each piece speaks to me of the wonders of the world.”

Add to Your LibraryWell, here is Beth’s “follow up” to her Seed Bead Stitching book I reviewed previously.  I have to tell you there are no “duds” from Kalmbach when it comes to beading books.

I really like Beth’s very informal writing style; it’s like she’s sitting right here with me talking about beads and designs.  Her personality and sense of humor really come through.  Somehow, it makes the designs and her instructions less intimidating.  Which, for this book, that’s good.
The designs are more difficult, incorporating triangles, several examples of toggles (I definitely have ideas for using these, maybe as a bracelet focal point), medallions with layers of beads, drops and more.  I had another pattern for creating branches and dangles and could never figure it out, but Beth made it sound very simple in this book.

One thing about working with seed bead patterns is the list of exact beads you need to make the item.  Beth commented on a reader wanting to know exact bead names and colors used in the projects.  Beth quickly set that concern to rest, telling us she doesn’t know. “…years ago I transferred most of my beads to those really cute little flip-top containers and did not transfer
any names or numbers.”  She encourages us to simply go thru and pick what we like.  So, if you are an exacting seed beader, and work from precise plans and measurements, you may not appreciate Beth’s approach in this book.  BUT, for me, I’m less intimidated.

The colors and designs range from bead soup projects to optically precise bead combinations.  She has a set of triangles, some closed and some open in the center, that form a toggle bracelet.  There are black and white triangles, separated by red and black, yellow/black and blue/black.  Very
eye-catching, and I loved the contrast of different size and shape of triangles in the design.

I do have to admit that I am not someone who know peyote from herringbone from brick stitch, so I have to really read through a design to understand what it needs.  One thing Beth explains is how to ring 1 bead with a circle of smaller ones and how to do that regardless of the size of the center bead.  Finally, don’t miss page 86, where Beth shows examples of circles formed from coils of beads.  She links a few of these.
With the right colors, these would be dramatic, one of a kind pendants, or even a cool bracelet!  They are on my “to do” list.  If I don’t like them linked, I’ll have plenty of unique toggle clasp rounds for something else.

Now, I guess I need to find my really strong magnifying glasses so I can see these tiny buggers!  As I recall my years crocheting, maintaining a steady, consistent tension is not always my strength, so I suspect that will be a struggle with this too.  Don’t miss this book, I like it far more than
her first one and I liked that one too!

Buy NowKalmbach Books produced
this book and I scored a copy to review!  This book includes an
introduction to basic seed bead information and stitches. It begins with a
concise overview of seed beads, as well as needles, thread conditioner, and
terms.  Everyone will appreciate this; if you aren’t sure of the different
sizes and types of beads then it will be useful and informative.  But you
won’t find that half of the book is consumed with descriptions and terminology,
instead of projects! Don’t assume this is a beginner book only!  There are
innovative examples of ways to expand your use of a particular stitch into new creations.

It is almost impossible to count the number of projects in this book.  A new stitch is introduced but then she immediately begins to show you several modifications you can do.  By including so many examples of how to vary a stitch, how different the pattern will be by using different
sizes and styles of beads, this book gives you tons of information.  Many other beading books tend to have a finite list of projects, with very few ways to vary the design.  Not here!  Beth is sharing her love of beads and stitch designs with all of us.  Even if you know some basic stitches, you
will still be inspired with new designs by exploring  all the examples included.  Beth also tells how she managed to turn some “mistakes” into designs.

There were 2 additions I was pleased to find.  First was how Beth included instructions on adding
drops to your designs, with top drilled beads and teardrop shapes.  Second was a section on incorporating your own toggle clasp in your design.  I think this really adds a cohesive finishing touch to a piece, since you aren’t adding an outside component at all.  In fact, in one example, the toggle looks almost like a pendant!  My favorite piece is called the “Nona Collar.”  It has 5 rows of beads in different colors and shapes.  The combinations of just this one pattern are absolutely endless in variations.

Don’t miss this one.

I was delighted at the quality and variety in this book.  It’s slim with slightly under 100 pages
but you will find lots of information and designs packed inside.  She is very free with her expertise and open with how to take any pattern in this book and alter it to fit your needs.  I found her suggestion to work with a new pattern to make earrings a great idea; you can practice a pattern but work on smaller projects.  While her initial stitch instructions begin with basic patterns all the extras included in this book take it far beyond the beginner stage.  Seed Bead Stitching provides something for everyone who does or wants to work with seed bead stitching.

Stitch Workshop

From Bead & Button magazine

If you are a beader and work with any kind of stitch, add peyote to your skillset with this great book!  It shows you even and odd peyote, circular, tubular and how to make a beaded bezel to frame a cabochon.  I was amazed at the multitude of designs you can accomplish with just this one stitch and it’s easy variations.  Of course, you can design hundreds of types of beaded beads, but you can also create ruffles. Twists and turns and waves make peyote stitch almost endless in its possibilities!

The most creative design shows you how to work peyote around a wavy, “bendy” straw!  How unusual is that!  But the result is simply stunning. Feather weight, with a set of stones forming a dripping pendant, this will take your breath away!  The boldest design is an eye-catching Jewel-Box Bracelet. This creates beaded bezels around glittering Swarovski crystals.  A series of these around your wrist and it will look like a million!  I also loved the designs that show you how to make open beaded rings.  These can be dimensional chain-links, or open texture links in your design!

With the unending colors and finishes of seed beads, the designs in this book could keep you busy for years to come!  If you make any design from one of the projects in this book, leave a comment and let us know! If you have a picture on line, we’d love to see it!  Follow my blog to read about other jewelry project books and jewelry making!

Projects from Bead & Button magazine

If you want the best projects from an entire year of Bead&Button magazines, this is the book to get!  Volume 6 has 77 stunning projects divided into 3 sections: stitching, wirework and miscellaneous.

There is a great steampunk design, with lots of character, by Diane Hyde. I can think of many many ways to personalize it for someone, using the suggestions they give and then adding personal touches.  Instead of just 1 pendant on a chain, they added in bits and pieces as links, giving it individuality and lots of character and texture.  The bicycle chain bracelet by Luan Carnevale is another favorite. It uses chain links and round glass donuts of approximately the same size to create a 3 layer bracelet.  By alternating colors of the round donuts, you can mix and match to every possible outfit and occasion. Other great chain link designs follow that one, one by Kathy Petersen adn Susan Matych-Hager that teaches you Byzantine weave, and then a design by Wendy Hunt.  This design uses a series of links to actually create a focal point by itself or with gemstones between then.

If you want to start wirework with some simple projects so you can get to know how wire turns, twists and forms, try Twisted Sisters by Kimberly Berlin.  This one pattern shows you three variations of earings, using round beads and 18 g round wire.  I also loved the Paisley Perfection earrings, a creation from Sonia Kumar.  If you ever wondered how to make an adjustable ring, try Following The Curve by Lilian Chen.  It uses only 2 beads. Stunningly simple, yet offering literally hundreds of variations, this can be a quick design with lots of potential.  The Keshi Cuff shows you how to make a freeform bracelet frame then literally cover it with beads. The Keshi Cuff is a design by Candice Sexton.

But the most stunning design is Maria Kirk’s Autumn Garland.  On cord, this has lucite flowers and leaves in fall oranges and browns, forming a wreath of fall flowers to adorn your throat.  Light, simple, this has the potential of a show-stopper.  You are sure to get compliments every time you wear it!

I love the Creative Beading books.  They pull the best designs from a year’s worth of magazines and bundle them into 1 book for your library!

If you make something from one of the projects in this book be sure to post a comment and let everyone know!