It Makes You Think…

Beads have always been a source of sanity for me.  Way back when I was an 8 year old kiddo I started using beads as therapy.  To help focus my thoughts, and to make me feel like there is beauty in a world that didn’t seem all that beautiful.

I still do that today.

Beads are a prayer.  A prayer that despite all the negativity and all the horrors that exist in this world, that someone will look at this tiny piece of glass or rock and see something beautiful.  Something worthy.  That they will understand that not everything has to be dark and scary.  Beads are a reminder that even though it might seem like life is focused on blood and bombs and pain, it also has joy, and light, and laughter.

At least.  They are for me.  Perhaps they can be a reminder for you too.

If all I accomplish in my life is creating reminders that life is full of goodness and joy in a time when it’s hard to see it as such, then I will not feel as if the short time I spent here on this planet was a waste.

So say I.

Why Create Jewelry?

Helping HandsOne of the things I struggle with in my life is my need to help people.  I have seen people suffer, I have felt suffering myself, and knowing how destructive it is, I have always felt the drive to help people move beyond that suffering.

I had begun to work with beads very early in my life, my family is very artistic and my counselors encouraged me to seek emotional outlets in safe and healthy ways.  Beads allowed me to work through my depressions and sort out my frustrations.

The repetitive nature helped me to focus and calm down when things got too intense.   I had worked my way through drawing comics to crochet and painting, but when it all comes down to it, it is the precision and color of beads that drew me to bead work.  It allowed me to satisfy my need for ‘perfection’ by being perfect for me.  You can count on the shapes of the beads and plan your pattern around them.  All it takes is some thread and time and eventually you will have a thing of beauty. The problem quickly became a question of how did creating jewelry help others?  Let’s be honest it’s an expensive hobby and not nearly as important as food or shelter when it comes down to basic human needs.  Many of the people I found myself surrounded by early in my life were struggling to make ends meet. They couldn’t buy jewelry and it was selfish to want something pretty when you had to save up just to pay rent.  Believing I could make a living by creating jewelry was a dream that I couldn’t afford to strive for. So believing beads held no value for anyone but myself I pursued a career in the medical field. It fulfilled my need to help people, but at the expense of my own sanity.  The hours were long, the work thankless and dirty.  While I enjoyed helping people, I burnt out quickly.

I make jewelry because I have walked through darkness.  I have felt despair like ice beneath my skin. Whether it be negative criticism about the quality of my work, or complaints about who I am ‘supposed’ to be or even the isolation of being in an abusive relationship.  I have felt the deep depression of one who has spent way to much time staring into the abyss. I believed the lies that because I enjoyed ‘girlie’ things I was lesser in some ways. I believed that by wanting beauty in my life I was selfish and greedy. The thing about the abyss is once you are in ensconced in the darkness, it’s easy to remain there.  It’s misery can be deceptively comfortable.  The idea of hope suddenly becomes foolish because the bullies tell you it is.  The darkness becomes your new accepted reality. “Creating beauty isn’t helping people.”

I believed that for a very long time. But for me making beautiful things allows me to drive away the sorrow and pain of daily life so that I can see that the world isn’t a horrible place.  There is beauty still out there, there is still a reason to hope for the best, even if it is just for today, even if it is for just one, more, day. If my jewelry can do that for me, then perhaps it can do that for others.  If it gives even one other person the ability to hope for a better day, then surely that person sees it as helpful.  Surely it can be their talisman for hope in a better life. Through all my careers, through a failed marriage, through the ups and downs in life, beads have helped carry me over the troubled waters.  They have become an armor I wear against the darkness, who’s hateful lies tell me that suffering is the only thing I can do in this life.  It drives away the thought that being called ‘girly’ means you are weaker, dumber, or of less value, that seeking out positive things means you aren’t focused on ‘the reality of the world’ when, in fact, reality includes those positive things too.  Creating jewelry, for me, drives away the thought that I am not good enough to be loved for who I am simply because I don’t meet some constantly shifting set of societal ‘standards’.  I wear jewelry because it makes me feel pretty in a world that says I am not pretty enough. For me, life has gotten so much better. I have beauty I can wear on the outside that reminds me that it is the light that we have on the inside that makes us truly beautiful.

I have someone who loves me to remind me that I had to love myself first.

I have compassion for those who suffer because I have suffered and seek to ease their pain in the best way I can. To you who read this I want you to know: It is not foolish to hope.  No matter what society says, you don’t have to focus on the negativity in the world.  Bad things happen, but they aren’t the ONLY things happening.  Good works are going on all around you, they are just quieter and usually more humble.  I want you to know that you are beautiful and it is okay to think yourself as such.  Even if your hair isn’t the right color or your teeth don’t line up or your ‘too fat’ or you don’t make enough money.  If you are constantly working on who you are as a person, your light will shine through. In this world, hope is not a luxury we can take for granted. And that, my friends, is why I create jewelry.

Upcycling your Jewelry

2015.07.16 - Beading BasicsI hate to see people throw away their jewelry.  Even the costume kind.  Mardi gras beads are about the only type of jewelry that I will throw away or recycle.  Those are less beads and more plastic on a string.  Everything else can be remade into something fun and more fashionable.  Beads can be restrung, chain can be used in various different ways.  It can all be shifted about and made into something you find beautiful again. Here are some tips for upcycling your old jewelry:

  1. Chains can be cut and the pieces can be made into pendants, earrings or used between beads on bracelets and necklaces.
  2. Beads can be cut from their original cording and restrung with different beads and findings to create a totally different look.
  3. Look for quality components even if you don’t like the original design, you can always take apart something of quality, you can’t make something of quality out of shoddy materials.
  4. Be creative!  Even if you have something you don’t think would ever look good, think outside the box to make it something fun and funky!  Taking a few beads to make earrings is a great way to break up a stash.
  5. Try switching from one strand necklaces to multi-strand necklaces or vice versa!  Adding or subtracting beads can change the whole look of a piece.
  6. Don’t be afraid to combine gold and silver.  Done well it’s totally a thing.  Be brave!
  7. Browse the internet!  Get ideas!  Pintrest is super fun for feeding your imagination.  Just be sure not to copy a design, folks work hard on designing their pieces, be original and create one of your own!
  8. Beadweaving can be upcycled too, though it can be a bit more difficult with the smaller beads.  Making a bracelet a necklace is always a fun way to spice up a piece! Or if the piece is too plain you can always add more stuff!
  9. Check out rummage sales, garage sales, and flea markets for old jewelry.  You can find some great deals!
  10. Have fun!  Designing is all about tapping into what makes you feel pretty, what you decide is beautiful.  If you are not enjoying it, you are doing it wrong!

Here are some ideas to get you going!

Upcycling Old Jewelry with Enamel

Upcycled, Recycled and Repurposed Jewelry Tutorials

DIY Upcycle Improve Old Cheap Jewelry Accessories Tutorial

Here is an example of a piece I re-purposed from two different necklaces.  It was fun and I can’t wait to wear it!

Sun Necklace

Types of Beads

2015.07.16 - Beading BasicsI wanted to create a list of beads currently available for beaders who do stitchwork.  So I sat down and started making the list, adding definitions and pondering taking pictures to link to each type of bead when I realized that this was a monumental task.  There are SO many beads out there that stitchworkers can use it would take ages to put them all in one spot.

So I have decided to create a list of beads that I have worked with, or that I would like to work with in the future.  That is still a huge list, but it is much more manageable than trying to get all the beads available.  Feel free to list beads in the comments that you think I might enjoy working with that I have missed off the list and I will do my best to research them.  If you would like to see what the beads look like, I have linked the company’s website I gathered the information off of.  These are not necessarily the best websites to ~buy~ these beads at however, so if you would like to purchase the beads, there are other websites that work best for that.  These websites are the company’s websites and usually only deal with other realtors who can afford to buy in bulk.  I make no money advertising for these folks, they are simply the companies that make the beads we know and love.

With all that out of the way, we can start with the good stuff!

First, let’s get some information on each type of bead.

All quotes are from Wikipedia:

Seed beads:

Seed beads are uniformly shaped, spheroidal beads ranging in size from under a millimeter to several millimeters. Most contemporary high-quality seed beads are made in Japan, India, or the Czech Republic. The largest size of a seed bead is 1° (“one-aught”, sometimes written 1/0) and the smallest is 24°, about the size of a grain of sand.[1] However, seed beads that are size 5° or 6° are usually called “pony beads” rather than “seed beads”; the next larger class of seed beads, from 3° to 4°, are usually called “trade beads”; the largest class of seed beads, including 1°, 2°, and anything larger, are usually referred to as “crow beads.” Most modern seed bead work is done using seed beads ranging in sizes 6°, 8°, 11°, 12°, 13° and 15°. Sizes 6°, 8° and 11° are often used in beaded knitting, as well as bead knitting. The extremely small class of seed beads smaller than 15° have not been in production since the 1890s and any in existence are usually considered antiques.[2] Japanese seed beads are generally more uniform in size, shape, and finish as well as having larger holes than Czech seed beads of the same size, but the Japanese make fewer styles.

Cylinder Beads:

During the last decade, a new shape of Japanese seed bead, the cylinder bead, has become increasingly popular. They were invented by Masayoshi Katsuoka of the Miyuki Shoji Company in the 1980s.[1] Unlike regular rounded seed beads, the cylinder beads are quite uniform in shape and size and have large holes for their size. Their flattened ends mean that work created with cylinder beads has a flat, smooth texture. Rows and columns in weaving line up more uniformly, so pattern work comes out more accurate and even. These beads are often more expensive than round seed beads.

There are now three versions of cylinder beads:

– Delica made by Miyuki. Delicas are currently made in four sizes:
– Treasures (formerly Antiques) is the brand name of cylindrical beads made by Toho[1]
– Aiko – an new, precise-cut bead made by Toho, that comes in hundreds of colors,[1] introduced in 2005.

Bugle beads:

Bugle beads are longer than they are thick, creating a tubular shape. They have different lengths but often range from 1/2″ to 2″ in length, and may be twisted.

On to the Lists!  Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list.  This is just beads I have used to make my creations in the past, and a few I have my eyes on for making things in the future.

MIYUKI Beads:
15/0 Round Rocailles
11/0 Round Rocailles
8/0 Round Rocailles
6/0 Round Rocailles
5/0 Round Rocailles
1/0 Round Rocailles
11/0 Hexagon
8/0 Hexagon
3mm Bugle
6mm Bugle
12mm Bugle
30mm Long Bugle
2.8mm Drop Beads
3.4mm Drop Beads
3.4 Long Drop Beads
3mm Magatama Beads
4mm Magatama Beads
5mm Magatama Beads
4x7mm Long Magatama Beads
10/0 Triangle Beads
8/0 Triangle Beads
5/0 Triangle Beads
10/0 Sharp Triangle
8/0 Sharp Triangle
5/0 Sharp Triangle
1.8×1.8×1.8 Square Beads
3x3x3 Square Beads
4x4x4 Square Beads
2.0x6mm Twist Bugle Beads
2.0x9mm Twist Bugle Beads
2.0x12mm Twist Bugle Beads
2.7x12mm Twist Bugle Beads
3.4x12mm Twist Bugle Beads
2.7x20mm Twist Bugle Beads
3.4x20mm Twist Bugle Beads
10/0 Twist Bead
Macrame Beads
15/0 Delicas
15/0 Cut Delicas
11/0 Delicas
11/0 Cut Delicas
10/0 Delicas
10/0 Cut Delicas
8/0 Delicas
8/0 Cut Delicas
10/0 3 Cut Beads
Tila Beads
Half Tila Beads
Berry Beads

Swarovski Beads:
2mm Bicone 5301
3mm Bicone 5301
4mm Bicone 5301
6mm Bicone 5301
8mm Bicone 5301
12mm Bicone 5301
2mm Bicone Xilion 5328
3mm Bicone Xilion 5328
4mm Bicone Xilion 5328
5mm Bicone Xilion 5328
6mm Bicone Xilion 5328
8mm Bicone Xilion 5328
10mm Bicone Xillion 5328
4mm Cube 5601
6mm Cube 5601
8mm Cube 5601
10mm Cube 5601
12mm Cube 5601
4mm Helix 5020
6mm Helix 5020
8mm Helix 5020
10mm Helix 5020
12mm Helix 5020
2mm Rounds 5000
3mm Rounds 5000
4mm Rounds 5000
6mm Rounds 5000
8mm Rounds 5000
10mm Rounds 5000
12mm Rounds 5000
14mm Rounds 5000
8mm Chessboard Round 5005
12mm Chessboard Round 5005
16mm Chessboard Round 5005

Swarovski Pearls:
3mm Round Pearls
4mm Round Pearls
5mm Round Pearls
6mm Round Pearls
8mm Round Pearls
Teardrop Pearls

TOHO:
15/0 Round
11/0 Round
6/0 Round
3/0 Round
8/0 Round
1.5mm Cubes
3mm Cubes
4mm Cubes
3mm Magatamas
4mm Magatamas
11/0 Triangle
8/0 Triangle
11/0 Hex
8/0 Hex
11/0 Treasures
3mm Treasures
#1 Bugle
#2 Bugle
#3 Bugle
#3 Twisted Bugle
2mm Bugle

Czech Pressed Beads:
Tiles
Quadratile
Melons
Lentil
QuadraLentil
Bricks
Crescent
Daggers
Two-Hole Daggers
Triangles
Bars
Leaves
Rondell
Stars
Tear Drops
Angel Wings
Dime beads
Cubes
Flowers
Pinch Beads
Donuts
Duck Bills
Rulla
Rose Petals
Coin
Rizo
Super Duos
Super Unos
Mini Duos
O-Beads
6mm Two Hole Pyramid Studs
8mm Two Hole Pyramid Studs
12mm Two Hole Pyramid Studs

Czech Firepolished:
2mm
3mm
4mm
6mm
8mm
12mm
Rondell
Gemstone Donut
Teardrop
Nugget
Antique Style Facetted
Antique Style Octagonal
Facetted Crow
Antique Style Triangle
German Style Triangle
Faceted Cubes
Renaissance
Rosebud
Fluted

Czech Machine Cut Beads:
3/3mm Bicone
4/4mm Bicone
5/5mm Bicone
6/6mm Bicone
5/3mm Spacer
4mm Round
6mm Round
6/10mm Teardrop
9/18mm Teardrop

Bead Colors and Finishes

2015.07.16 - Beading BasicsWhen you work with glass to make beads, you have a variety of different ways you can accent your basic color of glass.  There are ways to put color beneath the main color, and ways to overlay other colors on top of your main color.  You can have a blue glass base, and add an Aurora Borealis topcoat to totally change the whole look of the bead.  Though, it will typically also change the price.

I’m a huge fan of the special finishes and most of my work will have some fancy colors throughout the piece.  Because of this I compiled a list of what kind of special finishes you can find and use in your beadwork.

Some of these finishes are permanent, some will wear off with continued contact with the skin.  (Skin is very acidic!) You can treat some of the beads with outside finishes so your special finishes don’t wear off as quickly.   It’s good to know what finishes are on your bead so that you can create jewelry that will look good for as long as it can!

Swarovski Crystal has its own types of finishes and there are companies out there who specialize in creating unique finishes on the base Swarovski beads.  Keep in mind, Swarovski discontinues colors and finishes on a fairly regular basis so it can be hard to find some of the older finishes.

Honestly, it’s hard to keep track of all the different colors and specialized finishes, so this is not an exhaustive list.  You will need to check with a store to see if any of the effects have been discontinued.  I would love to keep this list up to date so if you notice anythign that needs to be changed let me know!

Glass Beads:

  • AB or aurora borealis – a rainbow effect applied to the surface of a seed bead.
  • Bronze-lined – a bronzy coating which reflects a brown light is applied to the inside of the seed bead.
  • Ceylon – A pearl luster finish. Sometimes the color of this bead fades when exposed to strong sunlight.
  • Color lined – a color coating is applied inside the beads; sometimes this is not very durable and the color of finished work may appear very different in a short time.
  • Copper-lined – a coppery coating which reflects a reddish light is applied to the inside of the seed bead.
  • Duracoat – “Duracoat®” is durable clear coating for outside dyed or galvanized beads. It is thicker and stronger coating than traditional one.
  • Iris – An iridescent coating with multiple hues, usually on dark, opaque beads.
  • Luster or lustre – a transparent “pearl” effect applied to the surface of the seed bead.
  • Marea – Same process as AB but results in a primarily orange/yellow reflection.
  • Matte – the bead is textured on a microscopic level to result in a matte finish.
  • Metallic or Galvanized – A shiny, very reflective coating that gives the bead a look of metal.
  • Metal – seed beads made of metal. These beads have sharper edges than most seed beads, so use of a stronger thread is recommended. Metal seed beads have larger holes and function well as an inexpensive alternative to spacer beads.
  • Opaque – the solid color prevents light from passing through the bead.
  • Picasso Coating – gives a speckled multi-colored effect over a solid color bead.
  • Rainbow – An iridescent coating on the outside of either opaque or transparent beads.
  • Silver-lined – a silvery coating which reflects light is applied to the inside of the seed bead.
  • Satin – fiber-optic tubular seed bead with slight striations. Made from a different type of glass than other seed beads, satin seed beads have sharper edges, so use of a strong thread is recommended.
  • Opal – semi-translucent finish that is often achieved with a dye on the surface. This finish is at risk of wearing away or fading.
  • Dyed – seed beads are coated with a dye that is often impermanent. Dyed seed beads in bright pinks, purples and reds are less stable and more likely to wear and fade.
  • Transparent – the glass is see-through.  You will need to use similar color thread with these beads if you do not want it seen.
  • Translucent – one can see light through the bead, although the light is diffused.
  • Vitrail – Same process as AB but results in a primarily pink/green reflection.

Swarovski Finishes:

  • AB
  • Ab2x
  • Satin
  • Blue Shade
  • Golden Shadow
  • Silver Night
  • Lilac Shadow
  • Paradise Shine
  • Antique Pink
  • Luminous Green
  • Moonlight
  • Silver Shade
  • Red Magma
  • Copper
  • Vitrail Medium
  • Comet Argent Light
  • Hematite 2x
  • Metallic Light Gold 2x
  • Crystal Rose Gold
  • Crystal Rose Gold 2x
  • Iridescent Green
  • Metallic Sunshine
  • Dorado 2x
  • Hematite
  • Metallic Blue 2x
  • Bronze Shade
  • Astral Pink
  • Heliotrope
  • Mahogany
  • Purple Haze
  • Chili Pepper
  • Nut 2x
  • Electra I
  • Summer Blush
  • Bronze Shade 2x
  • Aurum 2x
  • Sky Blue
  • Crystal Iridescent Green 2x
  • Metallic Sunshine 2x
  • Star Shine
  • Volcano
  • Dorado
  • Metallic Blue

These are two of my favorite stores.  They have some great information about seed beads and the durability of their finishes.  Between these two stores I can find pretty much anything I need.

Fire Mountain Gems

Fusion Beads Blog

Pondering on Dreams in the New Year

First dream of 2015.

I am trying to protect my family. I am also trying not to kill the asshole who broke into my house, however in this kindness, I end up just torturing him for an hour to keep him down and I end up feeling really bad about it. He is relentless, he does not stop striving to do damage to those I care about no matter how many wounds I give him.  I end up killing him anyway.  It is the only way to stop him.  My blade is dull and I waste precious seconds trying to find one that is sharp while he looms ever closer to those I hold dear.  His death is messy and needlessly painful.

This is not an auspicious omen.

Lesson learned #1: I really need to sharpen my knives.
Lesson learned #2: Bad dreams on the first of the year do not have to be bad omens for the rest of the year but they sure do start the day like shit.

At he urging of one of my friends I looked up information from Clarissa Pinkola Estes regarding ‘bad man’ dreams.  She has written a book that I did not immediately have access to, but I found this blog post that gives me the gist of her work.  Enough for understanding to dawn on me.

From Christina Lay of Shadowspinners:  ” The Dark Man is no stranger at all. He is a force from within, a manifestation of our animus (Jung‘s term for the masculine part of a woman’s personality) gone horrible awry. The part of us that seeks to act out in the world has been locked up, for whatever reason, and essentially, is damaged by our neglect.

This holiday season has been flooded with illness.  The last two months has seen no less than two bouts of sickness that has forced me to slow down and put off things I had hoped to complete.  Even as I write this I am recovering from the flu that has swept the country so viciously this year.  I have put off doing so much it is no wonder my mind has sent yet another reminder that my creative time is not a suggestion, but a requirement of my existence.

I tell myself I do not have time, but that is a lie.  I do not have the motivation to set aside time.  I wish instead to be lazy to focus on idle hobbies rather than things that challenge me, things that keep me on my creative toes.

Even my writing has become stale, my beads unorganized and uninspired.

I can do better.  Even my subconscious knows this.  It also knows that every so often I need to be reminded of this fact.  I wish to be happy with who I am, which means I need to be a person I can be happy with.  I have hopes and dreams and while I accept that I may never truly achieve all that I have set out to do in this life, it would be a poor choice to do nothing at all.

I will never truly be happy unless I am creating.  Something.  Anything.  So it is time to begin creating again.  It is not just what I do, it is who I am.  It is who I wish to be.

It will be a slow process, and evolving process and yes, I will falter in my steps, but when the dreams return to tell me I have stumbled on my path, I will know what they mean and will thank them for the reminder.

Freed from the Chains of Silence

Breaking the Chains of Silence2

I have had this blog for a long time.  The first post was February 18th of 2010 and since then I have posted things I have found on the internet that amused me along side tidbits of my writing.  I have used this blog to host my short story “Dreaming of White Marble Tombstones” and excerpts from the larger novel I am working on.

Nothing earth shattering for sure.  But it is a lovely way for me to keep track of things and let my friends and family see what twisted shit lies within this brain of mine.

I wasn’t able to do much more with it until recently.  Posting anything personal was forbidden.  Hinting that there was a person behind these posts, unthinkable.  This blog was a glimpse into my world, yet never more than a passing glance upon the beauty of a still pool, it’s depths hidden and unknown.

Perhaps it is better if it stays that way.  But the bindings that have held me back for so long are no longer there.  I no longer have to worry about being ‘allowed’ to write about myself or my family.  I will still maintain some distance for safety’s sake.  I know this is a public venture after all, and as such, one much take care what information they allow the public to see.  But I want people to know that yes, there is a person behind these writings, and yes, I have thoughts and feelings beyond the short stories and prose I write.

As always, I am an ephemeral prosaist, my writings are few and far between but rest assured they shall come, even more often if I am given the pleasure of responses from my audience.  Proving to me I write not just for myself gives me incentive to write more often so feel free to comment here or on facebook.

Much of my free time is given over to my hobbies.  Role Play, both online and live action, video games of all sorts, and my eternal love, beadwork. I even sell some of my beadwork in hopes of bringing in some extra money with which to buy more beads.  (Shameless plug)

Role play has brought me some of my closest friends.  It is where I met my husband as well as given me the opportunity to see the world through eyes not my own.  It has honed my writing skill and given me confidence I can take into other aspects of my life.

My faith is personal and strong.  I might go into it more here in another post, but there are things that I don’t feel comfortable talking about yet.  Politics and religion being the top two.  Just know that I am well aware of the majesty of the world around me and I take comfort in that knowledge.

Both of these things, my hobbies and my faith has allowed me to confront the shadows from my past and helps me to work through the darkness that taints my soul.  I suffer from anxiety attacks due to the Dark Times I have suffered.  My husband is a blessing in my life because he knows what it’s like to have to deal this these particular shadows, and his hand has guided me more often than once though the nightmares that follow.

At this point of my life I am truly blessed.  I never thought it could be this good.

I am hoping to make this blog more of an open expression of who I am as a person, as well as a writer.  My day to day life may be boring, or they may inspire.  Who knows?  My favorite quote is by Maya Angelou, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”  I write because it pours from my soul, not because I have some great lesson to teach or because I know how to fix the world.

I am who I am and I am content with that.