Barbara’s Blog – BBD Art Jewelry

I’m so pleased!


Have you ever made a Shutterfly photo book? Over the last few years, I’ve made four featuring my metal and beadwork and now I have a fifth book to add to my collection! This time I decided to assemble an 8×8 inch 20-page book of my tutorial for the “Sea Garden” Bead-Embroidered Brooch and the last few pages show a gallery of other bead-embroidered pieces for further inspiration. 


The format differs somewhat from the digital version of my tutorial because Shutterfly templates must be used, but I consider that a plus…I’ve been able to make the page backgrounds black, which really show the brooch in progress and finished pieces to their best advantage! I’m so impressed with the quality of the book that I’ve decided to have four extra soft-cover editions printed for those who have inquired if it is for sale. You can find the book in my Etsy shop if you’re interested in having one for yourself!

I just loved watching Maggie Smith playing the Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey. Especially when she inquired as to what a weekend is. I sometimes question that myself because I tend to work seven days a week. Even when I’m traveling, I try to get some beading done or I’ll work on writing a tutorial. Making art or doing something art related is integral to my everyday life. As for the coming weekend…I’ll be spending it making more bronze metal clay components for the “Tide Pool” Cuff. Since listing the kit last week, I have practically sold out. I had no idea the design would be so popular, but I’m thrilled that so many have shown interest in making this project. As you can imagine, I’ve spent most of this week assembling kits and I assume next week will be spent assembling more. Shown above are beads and pearls used in the Coral Tone kits. Gleaming bronze metal clay seashell components definitely play the starring role in this design!

The “Tide Pool” Cuff Beading Kit is listed…


Although the tutorial for this design has been available, it’s been a while since the “Tide Pool” Cuff beading kit has been listed in my shop. I had run out of the bronze metal clay seashell components that are so integral as focal embellishments in this design. Each button and seashell component is one-of-a-kind and handmade from impressions of seashells that I collected on tropical vacation beach walks! After spending several days last week creating more of these tiny treasures, I now have enough for six kits. Shown above is the Wide version (1 1/2″ wide with two bronze seashell buttons and thirteen seashell components) in Coral tones. The photo below shows the Sea Blue Narrow (1″ wide one bronze seashell button and ten seashell components) version. Each kit contains lots of pearls and nine colors of seed beads. It’s a fun project…one I guarantee you will enjoy!


Formed, Dried, and Sanded…


These bronze metal clay seashell charms and buttons are now ready to be fired. 


I’ve recently had requests for “Tide Pool” Cuff beading kits. Tutorials for this design have been available but the kits have been out of stock for some time as I’d run out of metal clay seashell components, which are integral to the design. Obviously it was time to create more! Looking at the top photo, it’s difficult to believe that such dull objects can become so shiny and beautiful after firing and finishing! I’ll readily admit that I really have to be in the mood to work with metal clay. Frankly, I haven’t been eager to play with it for some time…it’s cold (in winter I don’t relish my having my fingers in clay!) and once formed and dried requires a lot of sanding and refining of any holes with a small file and burr before going into the kiln where they are at the mercy of the kiln gods for nine hours. Once fired, the components are placed in a tumbler to shine up. It’s a lot of work, but when I see the finished product, I know it is worth the labor!  A limited number of kits will soon be available in my Etsy shop..check back in a few days!

Time to reorganize…

I have an entire drawer dedicated to Delica beads…hundreds of 7 gram tubes have been stored there. But in the past year I’ve started purchasing bead colors in 50 gram lots and that takes up a lot of space. Initially, I kept the beads in individual bags stored in trays, but that became a bit disorganized as the collection of colors grew. My remedy is clear acrylic 2.25″ deep storage containers. Each container holds approximately 45-50 grams of beads. The color numbers and their names are easily identifiable (a practically impossible task when trying to read on a tiny tube!) and selecting colors for projects and beading kits is now so much more efficient. I can see at a glance the colors I’m running low on and need to reorder. Plus they fit inside the same drawer that I’ve used all along! Now to tackle reorganizing the metal and clay studios!

It’s that time of year again…


Registration is open for the 2017 Bead&Button show. I’ve been perusing the class catalog and there are several classes I’d consider taking if time and money were no object. I would definitely take Celie Fago‘s Master Class, but the cost would be an extra $1,240 plus four more hotel stays! However, I’ve found the perfect class that will allow me to attend the floor show and stay just one night. Once again, Susan Lenart Kazmer is teaching at Bead&Button and her classes are always fun! I’ve taken many of her classes and I always learn something new and leave class with my creative juices flowing! “Resin, Relics, and Ancient Artifacts: Casting Resin”, is the title of the class and it’s only three hours long so I’ll have time afterwards to hit the floor show! I know taking Susan’s class will whet my appetite for exploring surface treatment and coloring of resin…something I can play with when I get back to the studio along with the goodies I pick up at the show! Shown above is a multi-charm “Talisman” bracelet that I created several years ago after taking one of Susan’s classes…I’ve had a lot of fun wearing it!

Happy New Year and…


What better way to start the New Year than with something colorful and sparkly! I’ve just finished this pair of mismatched earrings (I love asymmetry!) composed of oblong, pear-shaped, round, and square cushion-shaped Swarovski crystal stones, 15/0 seed beads, and teeny vintage 15/0 Czech Charlottes. The color names of the faux gems used here are Emerald, Caribbean Opal, and Crystal Copper in the earring shown at left and Pacific Opal, Tangerine, and Amethyst in its mate. They measure approximately 55mm (2.25″) in length and the earwires are made of antique finish sterling silver.  These are fairly simple earrings, but consider the creative possibilities of adding a geometric edging to the beaded bezels or stitching several montées (flat crystals that come pre-mounted in a silver-plated pewter settings) to this design! Chandelier earrings are the fashion statement rage at the moment so those of you who love large earrings could have a great time making and wearing them! Earrings are the perfect vehicle for exploration because they take far less time to make than bracelets or collars. I have a huge selection of Swarovski crystal stones that I have amassed over the past few years and I plan to start using them in more of my work this year. You can look forward to new designs, kits, and tutorials in the coming months…I foresee a great deal of beading fun ahead!

Remember Those Polymer Clay Beads?

I made the beads several weeks ago, but couldn’t post what I did with them until after Xmas because they were used as components in these gifts for my husband. He likes to cook and one of his favorite things to make is red sauce so I know he will really enjoy using the ladle and pasta fork when serving his tasty creation! And of course, the cocktail picks will come in very handy for spearing blue cheese olives and other tasty tidbits! The spacer beads separating the polymer beads are made of sterling silver that I brushed to a satin finish. The utensils themselves are available through Karen Thomas Beadable Products where you can find all sorts of beadable products including letter openers, pens, and other home goods!

What Does Santa Bring a Metalsmith for Xmas?


Lucky me! Among other desirable goodies, Santa gave me two hammers and a really nice steel block set inside a non-slip, noise reducing rubber holder! These are Fretz #10 and #11 raising hammers…perfect for use when a smaller striking head is desired with a lighter touch. I have a lovely collection of Fretz hammers, but I didn’t have these two. They will come in very handy when I get back to making raised and textured cuffs! I can’t say enough about Fretz tools…they are well-made of quality materials with handles of exotic Padauk wood that fit beautifully in the palm of one’s hand. The balance is perfect, which helps to lessen physical arm stress, and they are gorgeous beyond compare! Santa has indeed been very good to me!

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