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!