Another Project Done!

It took just shy of one year to complete. I didn’t work on it everyday, or even every month. It sat and waited for me to get interested again. Honestly, some parts of it were boring to work on and I often contemplated adding really big beads so it would go faster, but big beads weren’t going to give it the detail I was looking for. I had to forge ahead otherwise this was going to be the biggest UFO (unfinished object) in the history of mankind!

I gave myself a deadline to have it done by the Bead & Button Show in June. Friends wanted to see this thing; I wanted to show it off. So it’s now done and ready to travel. It’s not the most practical bag in the world but its fun to look at. When someone else sees it they have a favorite site or spot on the bag; you kind of get lost in the swirls and random pattern.

Hundreds of hours of work, about 400 yards of thread, and 70 grams of tiny beads. It measures 5″ x 3″ x 4-1/2″. So here it is in all it’s iPhone photo shoot glory…Alfie the Red Lucite Schnauzer Bag.





Alfie the Red Lucite Schnauzer

Alfie the Red Lucite Schnauzer.

Ok everyone, behave my mom is reading this. This project is a little on the ambitious side and I promised Mom I’d update her on the progress. You can follow the fairly regular updates on Instagram and my Facebook page dedicated to all things jewelry making (the links are to the right on this page).

I can’t remember when I really started this thing. I found the focal piece at the Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee, WI last June. Too big for a pendant or bracelet, I was going to have to think of something big to show off this find from Sandy Schor’s booth at the show. Seems that a handbag is the logical project for Alfie the Red Lucite Schnauzer.

I made a beaded handbag in 2016 when Sherry Serafini and Anne Benson offered up the Genie’s Hangout project. I learned a lot putting that project together and some of those new skills have come in handy putting this new one together. My goal is to have it ready to take to the Bead & Button Show this year.

I picked a simple shape and put together a 3D paper pattern to make sure I had the lid just right. I had a vision of where I wanted Alfie to go and a plan for the handle and closure, unfortunately I’ve changed my mind a few times on how the handle should look and it’s holding up the show!

Closing in on finishing the panels.

Believe it or not, once all the panels are beaded it goes together pretty quick…I’m really looking forward to the “quick” part.

Until the next update…Happy Creating! (Waving to Mom)


This Post Ought to be Riveting!

I love it when a blog writes its own catchy title. Yes, this post is about riveting. Basically, riveting is hammering on the ends tiny pieces of wire to hold pieces of metal together. This technique is commonly known as a cold connection. Why cold you ask? There is no torch needed for this technique which makes it really popular with flame-a-phobics.

Cold connections don’t require any kind of a heat source or finicky metals and chemicals. A few simple tools are all you need and if you’ve been doing any kind of jewelry making, you might have them already.

There are a few kinds of pre-made rivets and variations for each: semi-tubular, eyelet, and nail head. The tubular rivet comes in a two-part version that can be “set” with a specially made tool or a hammer. Eyelets have a hole that is can be big enough to accommodate a jump ring or thin leather cord. The nailhead rivets look like a nail, and in some cases they are.

Top row: brass nail, eyelet rivet
Bottom row: Vintaj nailhead rivets, small eyelet rivets

I set out to learn to rivet the old-fashioned way, with wire and a riveting hammer. I didn’t want to pay for the pricey two-part rivets and the tool for attaching them can be equally pricey. I have wire and a riveting hammer so it was time to put them to work.

After watching numerous online videos, I found one that made it look easy. I tried it and I had a decent looking rivet. Handling a tiny bit of wire and hitting properly with a hammer is challenging. Put your best magnifiers on and give it a go. Using a piece of painters tape (it doesn’t leave residue on your piece) to hold your pieces down helps a lot.

I had great success with 14g copper wire and a 1.5mm hole punch (plier-style or twist). Trim the wire just 1 mm above the stacked metal pieces. Leave too much wire sticking wire up and you’ll be hammering forever. Sterling wire will work very well for this riveting technique but I haven’t tried it yet.

Nancy Hamilton has a nice, short video on making a copper wire rivet.

Nancy Hamilton’s Wire Rivet Technique

Another great option is to use actual nails. They are tiny but they are finished on one end and are more decorative than just a wire rivet. You can cover the nail head with a bit of painters tape to keep it from getting to scratched up as you hammer.

I tried the #18 and #20 nickel and brass nails. I found the #18 brass nails were the easiest to work with. They are a little thicker and the 1.5mm punch makes the perfect sized hole for them. The #20 is thinner and I used a Dremel with a 3/64″ drill bit to make the hole.

Rivets hold stuff together but it can also be decorative. Add a few brass nails to a flattened copper cuff. I recommend adding the rivets before putting the cuff in its final bracelet form.

Copper cuff with a decorative brass nail rivet.

If you like stacking stuff onto your metal pieces, riveting gives you lots of flexibility. Use longer pieces of wire or rivets to accommodate your “stack” of pieces.

I recently taught a simple metals class where we cut, embossed and distressed cookie tins. The riveting technique would work well on pieces like this. The options for shapes and stacks of shapes are pretty endless. No expensive metals or tools are needed. In fact, if it’s all new to you, this is the way to go. You can practice, practice, practice and not worry about wasting expensive materials.

The humble cookie tin transformed!


Bead & Button Show 2017!

It seems like it takes forever to get here and then it’s gone in the blink of an eye. Tons of plans were made for the annual Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I sure had a full schedule but not so full I couldn’t get in a lot of shopping on the show floor.

I was lucky to have my daughter with me this year. She’s busy with work and plenty of gigs (yup, she’s a musician). Sara accidentally introduced me to beading when she went to a birthday party at Funky Hannah’s in Racine, Wisconsin…that was 17 years ago. I signed up for a class while I was there and the rest is history.

Friday morning we went to Coffee with Candie. Candie Cooper has a fun Facebook live video. She works with chain, stones, and metal pieces to make eclectic pieces of jewelry. Candie and her great bunch of sponsors (Jessie James Beads, Beadalon, Vintaj, RoundBeads….) put together a bag of goodies, coffee, and donut holes. It was an opportunity to meet and put names to those tiny little pictures of friends on Facebook.

After fueling up with much needed caffeine and donuts,  it was time to hit the show floor and shop. It’s overwhelming even for someone like me that’s done this for 15 years in a row! I like to stroll the floor and get the ideas flowing. My favorite purchase from this years show? Red lucite schnauzers! Awfully cute and I’ve started a project with one of them already.

Friday and Saturday, I had the privilege of teaching at Brenda Schweder’s, Now That’s a Jig booth. Experienced jiggers (someone that uses a Now That’s a Jig) and newbies, learned how to make shapes and wire wrap seed beads inside the shape. On Saturday, I got to teach my cuff bracelet. We made the TriPetal element and created flowers to attach to a leather cuff. Brenda offered 23 different workshops and demos from Thursday to Sunday.

Another show is in the books so its time to start the shopping list for next year because you can never have too many beads.

My Top 3 Fave Jewelry Books for Crafters

If you get a bunch of creators in a room, the conversation is going to ultimately go to the latest new project and the book it’s in. Even if you’re not looking for patterns, books are one of the best resources for the “how-to” of most techniques. I refer to my book collection often and each volume has a bunch of colorful bookmarks to prove it.
It’s getting a little crowded. My favorite shelf of jewelry and inspiration books, my beaded purse and prized squirrel bookends.

The Art & Elegance of Beadweaving – Carol Wilcox Wells

I can’t say for sure this book was my first, but it’s got to be one of the first books I got when I started stitching. Each chapter highlights a technique. Besides the amazing beaded beads and crochet ropes, there are chapters for the popular herringbone and peyote stitches.


The book also includes projects to cover most skill levels with detailed instructions and diagrams. You can take the skills you learn and apply them to just about any project you can think up. With all the new bead styles available today, it would be fun to see how they can be worked into some these patterns.


Even though it’s no longer in print (Pub. 2002), there are new and used copies available through a variety of internet vendors.



Steel Wire – Brenda Schweder

If you want to get started with wire working, try the steel stuff; it’s inexpensive and very versatile. I have a love affair with bead embroidery but that doesn’t mean I don’t cheat on my beads and go over to the dark side of steel wire from time to time.

I got this nifty book when I took Brenda’s class at our local art museum. We enjoyed a weekend of learning how to handle steel wire using everyday objects to create components for unique pieces of jewelry. The book gives you the basics of steel wire and some fun projects. Go ahead and experiment, steel wire is forgiving and just plain cheap.


Brenda has since invented the Now That’s a Jig (NTaJ) so you can create consistent shapes and designs; it’s so easy to convert these original projects to the jig.


Another book no longer in print (2011) but easy enough to source through the magic of the internet. Once you’ve got the book you can hop on over to Brenda’s Etsy shop and get all the supplies you need…and then some!


The Art of Bead Embroidery – Heidi Kummli and Sherry Serafini


It’s pretty obvious I have a thing for bead embroidery. I was introduced to it by a local bead friend. Not sure why it’s stuck with me all this time except I don’t really have to follow a pattern and I can use whatever I have on hand to put together a project. I could create for many years to come with all the stuff I have on hand. Beads don’t go bad ya know!


All the basics of bead embroidery are shared by two very popular artists. Heidi and Sherry each outline their favorite materials and techniques. I have used a little from each of them to create the perfect cocktail for my designs. The projects in this book range from basic to more complex. There are easy to follow instructions for earrings, pendants, large necklaces and a trinket box. The gallery of projects at the end of the book is beautiful and great for inspiration.

This book is still available on Amazon. According to Amazon, I purchased this book in 2009…gee, thanks for remembering. Heidi and Sherry also have other books worth looking into. Kind of like potato chips, you can’t have just one.

My book collection doesn’t stop here. These is nothing better than having great reference material at your fingertips. Now go make something fabulous!

Quick Bead Embroidered Earring Project

I enjoy designing  big bead embroidery projects, but it can take time for the ideas and colors to come together. While I wait for the next great color revelation, I like to tackle little projects like these super quick bead embroidered earrings. The great thing about these mini masterpieces is they usually lead to bigger ones and are a fun way to experiment with a new technique or color combo.

Quick and simple cabochon earrings

If you’re new to the bead embroidery world or just need a refresher, hop on over to my Quick Tips page for detailed instructions on the techniques that you will find in this project. For some added fun, make your own ear wires.

Earring project supplies

• 2” square (or enough to accommodate each cabochon) of non-woven material – Lacy’s Stiff Stuff or Beadsmith Beading Foundation
• 2” square (or enough to accommodate each cabochon) of ultra suede
• Thread – I use 4 or 6 lb. Fireline (Smoke). Use what you like best.
• Glue – E6000
• 2-cabochons
• 2 mm firepolish crystals
• Size 11 seed beads
• Size 15 seed beads
• Ear wires

Glue each cabochon to a small piece of non-woven material. Leave enough material around the cabochon to sew on the crystals and give yourself something to hang on to. The excess material will be trimmed away later. Using the backstitch technique (Quick Tips), add the crystals around the cabochon. If you want a bigger shape, add a second row of crystals or a row of seed beads.
Glue the cabochon and add 2mm crystals

Time to cut away the extra material leaving only 1/16” to add the edge beads. It helps to color the remaining bit of fabric with a Sharpie in a coordinating color.

Trim away the excess non-woven material

Glue the ultra suede to the back of the cabochon. Trim the ultra suede to match the embroidered piece; don’t cut it too close. The embroidered piece should be completely covered by the ultra suede on the back.

Attached the embroidered piece to the ultra suede

Using size 11 seed beads and the edge stitch (Quick Tips), finish the edge of the embroidered piece. Decide which end is up and exit out an edge bead and pick up enough size 15 seed beads to make a loop (about 10) for the ear wire. I recommend passing the thread through the loop a few times to prevent the ear wire from cutting through the thread. Add your favorite ear wire and you have an incredible pair of earrings!

Add the edge beads and ear wire

Now that you’ve got the basics, try out a different shape or add a long crystal or pearl off the bottom. Try swapping out the 2 mm crystals for a row of rhinestone cup chain. So many options, you’ll fill your jewelry box up in no time!

Fun Stuff in Big Snow Country

It’s winter and while everyone else is heading for warmer climes, I go north…further north than I already am. Hurley, Wisconsin and Ironwood, Michigan are the perfect playgrounds for winter sports, eating and shopping.

I’ve been skiing off and on for the better part of 30 years…ok…more off than on. The husband and I decided we’ve give it another go for our annual anniversary trip to the U.P. of Michigan. We visit this area often, usually in better weather but winter is the busiest time of year up there and if you hit it just right you’ll get the best skiing conditions. Besides skiing, there’s the food and a bit of shopping to be had.

Our favorite day of skiing was at Indianhead Mountain. There was fresh snow, temperatures in the mid 20’s and a little sun. I skied until my fingers got really cold then went in for a little lunch and a chat with my dad, who came out to visit us at the hill.

One can only ski so much before one’s legs feel like jelly. Time for coffee shops and a little treasure hunting. Sharon’s Coffee Company is our favorite breakfast and coffee place in Hurley, WI. You’ve got to see the breakfast menu for yourself. Most of the options are named with references to the mining industry which supported this community back in the day.

Hurley and Ironwood share a border and it’s easy to move from one community to another. Over in Ironwood is where some antiquing opportunities are. My favorite is Dan’s Antiques on East Aurora Street. The shop is pretty well organized for a place with so much cool stuff in it. A few of my favorite storage pieces have come from there as have many of my random maps, photos and vintage greeting cards.


Pour over coffee at Contrast Coffee

Across the street is a new coffee shop. Yes, it is acceptable to visit two coffee shops in one day, after all its cold outside. I drop off my newly acquired treasures in the family truckster and head over to Contrast Coffee. Their main shop is in Iron River, MI. This new location in Ironwood opened only a few months ago.

Since it was my first time visiting, I asked for their recommendation on what was good. They were very knowledgeable and recommended a pour over coffee. I’ve never had one so they showed me how it’s done. I have to say for someone that loves flavors and lots of dairy in their coffee, I could drink this stuff without all the add-ins.


Coffee round two complete, on to more shopping. 906Boom is just down the street from the coffee shop. It’s a maker’s space for local artists and micro business owners. My stepmom has her own little shop and a creative space. I have to say, I sure love this space. They don’t have a website but they are on Facebook, 906Boom.


While the weather didn’t cooperate for a whole lot of skiing, the food was amazing and there was still much fun to be had. You can’t beat the scenery no matter what season you visit. Check out the links for more area information.

Hurley, Wisconsin

Ironwood, Michigan