Friday, June 24, 2016

May & June Challenge Winner Interview: SunShine Sturtz- OfYourLove

See all the beautiful original submissions!

May & June

Check out Sunshine's Shop here

Congratulations on winning the May and June challenges. Your bracelet and necklaces were a wonderful realization of the themes.

I see you have a fondness for the whimsical in your jewelry. How do you come up with your designs?

My designs are almost always inspired by my components. I love components!! I rarely set out with very much of a plan other than a few key components laid out then it grows from there. This can sometimes backfire because sometimes I get many hours put in in and then I will want to do something else that wont work because of bad planning. This does however push me to get creative sometimes: "how can I make this work without taking it apart."

I love your May challenge piece, it interpreted the theme beautifully in a way that wasn't overdone. The energy of the gemstones make it seem magical. I found a few rough gemstones in Colorado when I was there years ago. Do you ever use found stones or objects in your work?

I have a collection of found objects, I have a collection of all kinds of things that I see as "beading components" that I will "use someday" :-)

Your jewelry is bold, colorful and fanciful, and carries well over distance. do you have a theatrical background, or other training in the arts?

I don't have any "training" in any of the arts. I was in a few shows during my first attempt at college. I love theater, and I would get into it again if I had the time and/or there was community theater where I live.

The materials and style of jewelry sometimes encourage a first hand look. Do you have any other outlet like galleries or craft shows that allow people to see your work in person, and possibly drive sales to your Etsy shop as well?

I am a terrible sales person! Once in a while I bring out my dog related pieces to a dog show, but I rarely even attempt to sell things. I am not a very good business woman! I would rather invest the time in making more things. As a result though, I don't sell much. My next step in that kind of growth is to learn better photography.

Do you have a favorite stitch to use or type of jewelry to make?

I am addicted to Bead embroidery now. There are no rules. I can use any components, any beads, and it is very forgiving... there are no "mistakes"

How long have you been making jewelry, and is it your main focus in crafts or life?

I started playing with beads when I was about 12. I had recently acquired a step sister who was about my age, and she taught me the basic brick stitch earrings she had learned. Then for my birthday she and my step mom gave me my first little red toolbox with my first needles, and pliers and a few beads. But I only discovered BE about 5 years ago and that was the game changer. I wouldn't even say jewelry is my main focus with beads. I like to make "bead paintings" and I have big ambitions of making something sculptural soon! It's not my MAIN focus in life... It is probably tied with Newfoundlands. (hence some Newfy pieces in my beadwork.)

What are some of the challenges and joys you have faced with respect to your jewelry making and Etsy shop sales?

I barely have any sales in my etsy shop. Actually, the only reason I even opened one was to participate in the challenges. I think I have only had 6 sales since opening. But again, I am bad at marketing. The challenge has been to not worry about sales, and trying to make something that someone might buy. When I am driven by sales, I just get depressed that my stuff isn't selling, I tell myself "nobody likes my stuff." Instead, I just make things that _I_ like to make. that I WANT To make... if it sells, cool, if not, it is just added to MY collection. :)

Who is your favorite artist, be it in beads, painting or even music?

I am lucky to live near, and consider myself to be friends with two of the BEST bead artists in the universe: Kinga Nichols, and Heidi Kummli. Heidi was my first B.E. teacher, I am amazed by everything she makes. She has a knack for finding really unique components. I was honored to be invited to her first Shaman Bead Workshop, at her house which was amazing!! A very small group (5 I think) and two days spent up at Heidi's house in the most beautiful location!! (to me anyway, because I am a 'Mountain Kid') I met Kinga shortly after taking up BE, and I saw that she lived in the same town as me. at first I was intimidated by her awesomeness! Her work is incredible! The colors!! The textures!!! the critters!!! Turned out she was also simply amazing as a person!!!

And my sister. She is my favorite artist. She can do anything. She often helps me with designs, has made several components for me when I can't find exactly what I want, she makes it for me!! She can draw better than I can, so she has often sketched out my bigger ideas for me to work with. She is actually my favorite person in general. :)

Is there anything else you would like to add or say to the EBW community?

Thank you all for being awesome!!! The people I have met in the bead community, the friends I have made in this community are all awesome! Nice! Supportive!!! It's a fantastic loving community!!! THANK YOU !!!

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 2016 'Cats' Challenge Results

Congratulations to the winner of both the team and public votes for the second challenge in a row, SunShine Sturtz!


Black Cat Silhouette Pendant- OfYourLove - 11 votes (23.9%)

Cat in the Handbag - STARARTjewelry – 6 votes (13%)
Tiger necklace – AnnaCohen – 5 votes (10.9%)
Black Cat Silhouette Pendant – OfYourLove – 30 votes (21.6%)
Black Cats Bracelet – Daidija – 29 votes (20.9%)
Tiger necklace – AnnaCohen – 19 votes (13.7%)

Well done to the winners and all who participated and thanks to everyone who voted!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Entries for June's "CATS" Challenge

Here are the entries for this month's "CATS" challenge!  VOTING WILL BE OPEN FROM JUNE  9TH UNTIL JUNE 15.  Please choose your favorite entry from the images or links below, then select your choice in the blog poll that will appear on the right sidebar during the days that voting is open.

Click on the image mosaic or links below to learn more about each entry and see larger, detailed images of each piece. 


Image Map

Monday, June 6, 2016

Favorite Things: Beading Mats

As beaders, we each develop little habits, or even manias, around our hobby. Products are created for us, some better than others, and practice has led us to see the flaws in them. Most of us have learned ways of modifying or adapting the use of these products to get a ‘just right’ beading experience that suits our particular styles. This time around, I asked team members what they preferred as beading surfaces. There are no ‘right’ methods to beading, we all simply prefer different things!
Patrice Thomas ( shared that her favorite beading surface was a small, round metal sewing can with a hinged lid and that she has been using it for 15 years! “I have never beaded on a mat. I store my current project along with the beads, needles and threads inside the can and when I'm ready to work the lid of the can becomes my work surface. The can is well worn and really needs to be replaced. I will admit that sometimes I'm embarrassed to take it out in public. I have not replaced it because I have not been able to find a suitable replacement. This is my favorite thing because it works for me, it allows me to do what I love anywhere I am. When I teach beading classes I bead on the lid while my students bead on a mat. It fits in my purse and travels with me, even on vacations. It makes my beading portable, me productive and when I'm beading in public, it often sparks conversations which gives me an opportunity to tell my story about the can and share my love of beading!”

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough ( responded with a conflicting comment pinning Bead-On-It boards versus vellux blanket scraps. Bead-On-It boards were invented and are made by Dee Pyatte ( and consist of a circular vellux sheet sown to a thicker velvet border, which unlike with just a piece of the material, keeps beads from rolling away too far when there is movement. Elizabeth had previously attempted to stick her vellux scrap piece inside a cookie thin, but had an issue when the beads would roll to the edges and hide underneath with movement. She much preferred the Bead-On-It board.

Her opinion was the same as Pamela E. Troutman’s ( who believes a Bead-On-It board is only comparable to a Swarovski mat, which comes with a printed ruler- so useful!

Christine  Boyer, team captain, ( uses a homemade system: “I gather all the beads for each project into a cigar box (only about a dollar from local cigar shops) lined with a $1 velour bead mat. It's easy to keep everything together and even take along with me. My other favorite thing is that little souvenir state spoon. I bought a couple at a yard sale once and find it perfect for spooning out beads and putting them back. And speaking of bargains, my favorite needles are Beadalon's size 12 hard beading needles (from Michaels). They are perfect for going through size 11 & 15 seed beads, last a long time, and cost only about $4 for a dozen! I'd rather spend the big money on beads, everything else is a bargain for me!” Who knew a little spoon bought at a yard sale could become so essential to a beading routine!

Lastly remains my own favorite things ( I use my oh-so-special beading “plate” for laying out the beads I need without having them roll away. I came upon the following beading tray long before my beading years. As a baby, I used to eat out of it this, now it serves me a completely new purpose. As I am still a Winnie-The-Pooh fan, I cherish the memories in this favorite thing, every time I bead.

I am personally addicted to the Tulip Beading Needles, in the incredibly small yet sturdy size 13. As I work mostly with 15/0 seed beads, these needles allow me to pass through a bead many times without breaking the bead with needle pressure. I keep my needles in their little vial in my travel beading set up that I have organized myself. I can keep all the beading tubes I need for a project as well as a small vellux mat, rolled up to the right. This travel kit was given to me by my sweetheart. It originally contained wire jewelry tools, but he knew I would be clever enough to repurpose each little elastic holster for beadweaving supplies!

Thank you everyone who has participated in giving me your input. Comment below on or facebook! Do you share these members’ favorite things? Use something else? We want to know!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

July 2016 Challenge "Mystical, Mythical and Magical Creatures"

Thanks to Shine Sturtz for our Challenge theme for July ... 
Thanks to skeeze;
“Mystical, Mythical and Magical Creatures” - take inspiration from folklore and fairy tales, witches and wizards, spells and potions, basilisks, dragons, griffins, pixies, fairies, elves, boggarts and more.
Important Note: Please keep copyright issues in mind if creating an entry using a movie, book, etc. as inspiration. Do not make copies of copyrighted creatures or use copyrighted images in your listings. Please note that even names may be copyrighted so be sure to check before starting your entry!
Please be sure to have your entry listed in your Etsy shop by July 5, 2016 23:59 EST and remember to include EBWC in the title and tags of your entry.
Kindly refer to the Challenge Rules in link below for details on what is allowed in Challenge entries to ensure that your entry is compliant.

 Some inspiration!
Thanks to terimakasih0;
Thanks to terimakasih0;

Thanks to PgmJanssen;

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Shop Feature!: Star*Art Jewelry

Meet Pamela Troutman, she has been beading since 2000 and is the passionate and caring owner of “Star*Art Jewelry”.   Star*Art Jewelry opened in 2006 and is an Etsy shop that specializes in custom and functional beaded jewelry while providing excellent customer service.

Pamela has a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art from the University of Mary Washington where she learned engraving, drawing and painting, but she did not want to be a starving artist so she minored in Cartography (map making) and served the Department of Defense (DOD) for 34 years, retiring in 2014.  While employed at the DOD Pamela made lanyards to hold the identification badge she wore.  Star*Art Jewelry was born when her co-workers noticed the colorful necklaces and began placing orders. 

How did you come up with your Etsy Shop name?

STAR*ART was born when my passion changed from running a Shelter That Adopted and Rescued (STAR) ferrets to making jewelry.  When I met my first husband, he wanted a ferret as a pet.  We got one from someone who did not want theirs anymore. Then we went to a pet shop and bought it a friend. Other people heard we had ferrets and word got around, and when people no longer wanted their ferrets, they gave them to us.  At about 8 ferrets I said, “We can’t keep them all” so I started a ferret rescue.  At that time, the local animal shelters would not accept ferrets.  After 9 years, and 1300 ferrets placed along the east coast, plus working towards research to approve a rabies vaccine, ferrets are now being accepted at the local animal shelters and I closed my rescue in the late 1990’s.

The year 2000 was a big year for me.  I remarried, and became an instant grandmother.  I looked for a creative outlet that would fit in my townhouse and my time schedule and beading was that outlet.  I started simple, just making beaded necklaces for my ID badge.  Co-workers started to ask for lanyards, and STAR*ART was born.  Why STAR*ART? Well, I didn’t want to change my e-mail address at the time (starferrets) so I incorporated my previous hobby name with my new passion.

You began your venture in jewelry making with bead stringing, how did you become interested in other types of jewelry making?

Through the Northern Virginia Bead Society (NVBS), I took a class from Sherry Serafini.  I was then hooked on bead embroidery.  My first embroidery design was for a NVBS Bead Challenge in 2008 – we were given a bag of beads and had to use them ALL. From these odds and ends in the bag I created “My Elephant”.  

How do you market your jewelry?
“Custom and Functional Beaded Jewelry for Work and Play” is the tag line for my lanyards, but I think it applies to my beadwork as well.  Unique, never repeated, simple and elegant.
I use Etsy as a web site – for customers who see something and then think about it later – they can come back and purchase it.  Other than custom lanyard orders, I rarely sell off Etsy.  Most of my sales are at church craft shows or at ART A La Carte Gallery and Gifts in Occoquan.
I do post on Facebook – a lot of people enjoy my posts on the progress of something I’m working on.  I do not blog, unless you count some of my “Show and Tell” processes on my Facebook page.

You describe your custom jewelry as functional and comfortable, what is your design process?
Many people don’t think about customization, but I love being able to feed the artist in me by taking their desires and make something JUST FOR THEM. It means more to the person who wears the jewelry if they had input, and the closest I had to dissatisfaction was one person who wanted brighter colors, so I exchanged the piece and she was very happy.  I’ve done running themed lanyards, animal themes, names of children… the possibilities are endless.

The functional applies to my beaded lanyards – when you remove the clip it looks like a necklace.  The comfortable applies to my beadwork – I don’t use crystals much because they are sharp. I am very particular about what touches the back of the neck – nothing pointed or rough. I mainly use large clasps or magnetic clasps so the necklaces are easy to put on and take off. I don’t make things too heavy. I do put every piece of jewelry on to see that it hangs well, is balanced and comfortable.

Many of your pieces have interesting and unusual pendants, how do you meet the challenge of keeping your jewelry affordable yet interesting?
I shop on eBay, thrift shops, and such places for things I can bezel or embroider around.  If you don’t mind waiting a month for delivery, there are lovely gemstone cabs on eBay for just a few dollars.  I do a lot of embroidery or bead weaving in front of the TV, so instead of counting the hours spent to make something, I count the number of fire line threads I pull from the box and base the price on that.  I work with a “two-arm” length.

What is the story behind your “Pay It Forward” listing?

I believe in helping out a good cause.  It is also a way to find a home for some pieces that I can’t bear to tear apart but no one seems to want to adopt for themselves.  I am proud of all the jewelry I make, but sometimes the right person has not come by to adopt my piece.  These orphans become donations, because every piece of jewelry deserves a person to wear it.

It is evident that you know great customer service is critical, what are the top three ways you ensure customer satisfaction?
Ask questions, give suggestions, and offer refunds or exchanges. For example, I have a person who saw a bead woven necklace in the...
...but wanted it in other colors to match her “Mother-Of-The-Bride” dress.  I wanted to know what she liked about it – the drape (Russian spiral is a softer drape than peyote), the sparkle, the pendant?  Then I told her I had pendants she could select from, but maybe she would prefer me to use a pin or heirloom piece she already owned.  She loved that idea.  We will be meeting in the middle of May so I can see the dress in person, match the beads, determine the length and weave, and see what she brings as a focal piece.  This will be a great opportunity for me to take timeline shots and post progress reports on Facebook.  Also, create a listing on Etsy showing an example of my custom made process for necklaces (versus lanyards).  I do not offer refunds or exchanges for custom made beaded pieces, but I do for everything else.

What has been the most difficult thing about starting a handmade business, and what has been the most rewarding?
The difficulty is getting the sales. There are so many jewelry makers on Etsy.  There are too many beautiful designs.  It is difficult to stand out, this is one of the reasons I wanted to join the EBW team – the monthly contests, even if I don’t enter every one, inspire me to create something outside my normal thought pattern.  I find the monthly challenges get my creative juices flowing.  Those contests are also bringing people to my Etsy store.  So far, no sales as a result, but the boost in views and likes might pay off one day.  Sales are okay at the gallery because people can pick up and try on my pieces, something you can’t do on-line.  I do not teach or have my own pattern line so I do not have name recognition; I specialize in one-of-a-kind pieces.  Finding that one-of-a-kind person is the challenge.  The most rewarding thing is the custom orders – few and far between, but ever so worth it.  I enjoy making people happy and I love to create what they cannot do for themselves. 
Pamela Troutman is proof that necessity is not only the mother of invention but she is also the inspiration for creativity.  

 This is where Pamela gets creative:  

One of Pamela’s beautiful pieces:

To see more of Pamela’s beautiful work, visit the links below.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 2016 'Four Elements' Challenge Results

Congratulations to the winner of both the team and public votes SunShine Sturtz


Four Elements Cuff - OfYourLove - 22 votes (36.1%)

Wind and Fire Dancing - NinaSavovaArt - 11 votes (18%)
Four Elements Altar - BeadworkAndCoe - 10 votes (16.4%) 


Four Elements Cuff - OfYourLove - 90 votes (29.1%)
Wind and Fire Dancing - NinaSavovaArt - 83 votes (26.9%)
Serenity and Rose Quartz in the Air - SheWalksinCrystal - 45 votes (14.6%)

Well done to the winners and all who participated and thanks to everyone who voted!