Barbara’s Blog – BBD Art Jewelry

Let the Fun Begin!

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I love geometric beading! I love the preciseness, how the beads line up so perfectly, and how a project can sprout spikes and folds!  During the past few months, I’ve been exploring the Warped Square and creating several pairs of earrings in that technique as well as writing tutorials to go with them. But as much as I love geometric beadwork, I am equally enamored with bead embroidery…the carefree and often random placement of beads and embellishments that are so integral to the design of a bead-embroidered piece! So I’m taking time to play with a new project! Several days this past week were spent creating a collection of sparkling resin faux fire opal cabochons…a dazzling spectrum of red, orange, gold, green, blue, indigo, and violet rounds that will be the central focal accent of a new floral brooch design.  Each of the six  petals will be festooned with several types of pearls, Swarovski flat-backed crystals, Delicas and seed beads! In the above photo, I’m arranging various components that will grace each petal. I haven’t glued anything down at this point so I’m free to move, add, or subtract pearls and crystals until I’m completely satisfied with the composition. As yet, I haven’t decided on the various colors of beads I will use, although I am liking the metallic blue/green 15/0 Toho beads shown. Of course, I’ll be taking step-by-step process photos as I go along and I’ll be writing a tutorial and offering kits for this new design…it will be finished just in time to welcome the spring season!

As Promised…

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The tutorial and beading kit for my “Geometric Warped Square Mosaic Drop Earrings” (inspired by vintage patterned tile work and CGB) is finished and listed in my Etsy shop!  The step-by-step tutorial is accompanied by large full-color photos, a color chart and beading graph.  The kit includes seven colors of 15/0 Toho Japanese seed beads, teeny 15/0 vintage Czech Charlotte beads, petite Swarovski SS39 Rivolis, and sterling silver earwires…all tucked into a handy 3.5″x5″ travel tin plus a printed tutorial and a 4×6″ color photo! I love this blue/green/purple colourway, but you may request a custom colourway as well.

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Another Pair of Warped Square Earrings!

I’ve been busy this past week playing with Geometric Warped Squares once again! Aside from the  influence of several of my favorite beading books (Jean Power’s “Geometric Beadwork”, Diane Fitzgerald’s “Shaped Beadwork”, and Kate McKinnon’s “Contemporary Geometric Beadwork”), the inspiration for the colorful mosaic pattern came from memories of intricately laid tiles I’ve seen on walls and floors of vintage buildings. A particularly vivid memory lingers of a tiled bathroom floor in a house my family lived in during the early 1950’s. I was just knee-high to a grasshopper back then, but I remember being mesmerized by the geometric composition of the tiny hexagonal porcelain tiles that resembled honeycombs! These earrings make that memory even more intense! Feather-light and eye-catching, each earring is composed of 15/0 Japanese seed beads and suspended from a petite bead-bezeled Swarovski ss39 Rivoli.  I’m just finishing writing the step-by-step tutorial for this pair of earrings and I’ll have kits as well.  Look for them in my Etsy shop in a day or two!

Oooooh…


This shipment of pearls just arrived and they are beautiful. The colors are luscious and the variety of types include button, round, semi-round, peanut, large and small biwa, and potato. I love flat-backed pearls for bead embroidery projects and biwa pearls are such stunning accents…I think it’s time to get out some beading foundation and create another cuff and perhaps several more brooches. Incidentally, several of these types of pearls are included in my One-of-a-Kind “Sea Garden” bead-embroidered brooch kits!

Busy Work…

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I’m running low so it’s time to make more components for the “Tibetan Inspired Beaded Rope Necklace” Kit. This entails creating more polymer faux amber, coral, and turquoise beads and sterling silver heart charms. The photos show the final finishing process for both. I use my JoolTool™ with a buffing wheel to impart a subtle glow to the polymer beads. It does a superb job!

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A polishing square removes excess coloration from the antique-finished sterling silver heart charm and bestows high shine as well. I love the bright colors of the beaded embellishments used in this playful mixed-media rope necklace!

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I’m so pleased!

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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. 

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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…

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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!

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Formed, Dried, and Sanded…

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

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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!

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