All for The Love of Beads

Beads are found all over the world. Many different cultures believe in prayer beads. Some people believe the use of beads helps them to recite their prayers. What about “worry beads?” Middle East businessmen have been known to wear a tasseled strand of 33 beads they call “worry beads,” to help them make decisions. As for me, it would take much more than a necklace of 33 beads to help me make decisions. One never knows though until you try. Maybe I should put together a tassel strand of 33 beads the next time I am up against decision making.

During the Middle Ages, Europeans made beads primarily for religious purposes. In some regions there were laws against wearing any kind of jewelry except prayer beads, the rosary. Many other great bead traditions emerged. Beads have been found in much of our excavations. Historians study the finds to learn about ancestors. Some of the things they have learned from the study of beads found are:

trade route facts
technological advances of materials and manufacturing methods
evolving fashions and habits of generations before us

Beads continue to increase in popularity and value. People have become more and more fascinated by the history of beads as well as their significance to different cultures. Beads of all kinds is full of a rich history many people find fascinating as they work with them and create more and more designs. Innovation in bead designs is ongoing daily.

It is interesting to note Turkish eye beads found all over Turkey were and probably still are used to ward off the “evil eye.” Who is the evil eye? I would say it is the devil in my personal culture. As bead artisans learn more about beads and bead jewelry making we also pick up little tidbits along the way regarding how they have been used, and why they have been used or worn. Once we become fired up with enthusiasm about beads, the creative process of making bead jewelry kicks in as well. My first love was for the beads themselves, and not the actual finished jewelry products.

I know it must be exciting to travel the world, visit their local markets and hunt for beads. Africa, Eastern Europe, India, the Middle East, the Far East are all interesting locations for bead hunters, I am sure, as well as unique bead jewelry making traditions. It would take some time to learn differences in what is real and what is fake.

Glass was the most common material used to make beads during the Neolithic era of time in Europe and the Middle East. The Middle East is part of the”exotic lands.” They also had beads of amber, gold and semiprecious stones. I really think a lot of us just by human nature crave that which is novel to us.

Germany is known for their wooden toys. Germany’s wooden beads follow right along after their tradition of making wooden toys.

As for now, I truly am not interested in making beads. I think there is enough to discover already made without creating more. Beads have such a rich and fascinating history it is hard to just skip over to putting them together as jewelry pieces without knowing a little bit about where it all began. For the love of beads, a jewelry artisan most likely emerges.

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Strung Chains Part 1

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The simplest form of bead work is, of course, the strung chains. How we loved, as children, to make necklaces of beads or berries! To be allowed to string beads was one of the compensations for a rainy day. It still has a fascination for many of us. Women all over the world have felt the charm, and curious and beautiful are some of the chains they have made. Some have used beads of gold, silver, and semi-precious stones; others beads of shell, amber, and coral; while others still make chains of wooden beads or string beans or berries.

Black-eyed Susans — the tiny scarlet beans tipped with black that tourists bring from Florida — may be pierced and strung and make gay chains.

It would seem strange to be able to pick beads for a chain in one’s own garden, yet that is what is done by two girls on Long Island. They have a plant on which grow Job’s-tears. These tear-shaped seeds, ranging in color from pearly white to black (there are brown ones, too), make attractive muff-chains.

The gray ones are strung with cut-steel seed beads, two between each of the Job’s-tears, and the brown in the same way, using gold beads to separate them. But beware, if you raise Job’s-tears, of using them in their natural state. They should be boiled like chestnuts before stringing, for a tiny grub is often found in them, and he may at any time make a meal of the silk on which the beads are strung, or appear on your muff inopportunely.

Of the seed beads No. 0 are most used for these strung chains, with here and there a large Venetian bead in colors which harmonize with the body of the chain. The simplest are strung on a single strand of purse-silk or dental floss about two yards long. Fan-chains may be shorter — about a yard and three-quarters.

Other chains are made with two strands, which are strung for a few inches with seed beads, then twisted like a rope. A large bead is slipped on, to hold the twisted strands, and a few inches more are strung with seed beads. This continues the whole length of the chain.

In finishing, the ends are tied with a firm knot. When chains are simply intended for ornament they are finished with more or less elaborate tassels, and in calculating the length of silk or floss enough should be allowed for them. One such chain is made as follows: Pale-yellow Chain

To be continued in Part 2: Strung Chains: The Pale-Yellow Chain

Reference Used: Copyright 1904 by Doubleday, Page and Company Published May 1904 (in public domain due to expiration of copyright)

White, Mary. How to Do Beadwork Complete with 100 Illustrations (Kindle Location 38). . Kindle Edition.

re-written by: Connie Limon, Bead Jewelry Artisan
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Using Venetian Glass Beads and Seed Beads in Bead Work

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Originally Venetian glass beads were made by hand. A piece of molten glass, while still hot, was pierced, and two boys, holding each an end of the soft but stiffening mass with pincers, ran as fast as possible in opposite directions. The glass, thus drawn to a surprising thinness, still kept its tube-like form: the hole in the middle never closed. It was then cut into tiny lengths as nearly alike as possible. In order to smooth the rough surface of the beads, quantities of them were put into a drum with ashes and turned rapidly for some time.

Many of the large beads used for strung chains are made in this country. They come in soft, pale colors of opaque glass and in the same colors in pearly finish. The imitations of baroque pearl can hardly be distinguished from the genuine. In the most perfect of these beads seven coats of pigment are used, and they are filled with a special kind of wax, to give them weight and strength. Other large beads which are used in strung chains are highly colored and flecked or ornamented with gold or silver. All the colors and combinations we are accustomed to see in Venetian glass are found in these beads.

Then there are the seed beads. As one looks at a display of these, the masses of shimmering color make one long for an artist’s ability to combine them in things of beauty and use. With the larger, or E beads, one can fashion candle-shades or strung chains. The smaller seed beads range in size from o or i (as they are called by some dealers), which are the coarsest, to 5-0. The very tiniest beads sold in this country are 5-0 beads, with one side cut, which some dealers call 6-0. They come in small skeins, while the others are generally sold in bunches of eight skeins each. These are the beads for weaving, sewing, knitting, and crocheting.

For stringing bead chains dental floss has been found most satisfactory. It may be used with a No. 8 needle. Some persons like the French lace threads for the woof strands in bead-weaving, but an authority on weaving, Miss Eppendorff, prefers the numbered linen thread or Kerr’s cotton No. 000, as the French threads are not entirely reliable as to size. Two spools of the same number will be apt to vary in coarseness. The warp thread should be one-half again as coarse as the woof — No. 60, for example, for warp and No. 90 for woof, with a No. 11 needle when the beads are 4-0. No. 11 needles are also used when No. 000 cotton is chosen for the woof.

Often, when the background is to be of another colour than white, it may be advisable to use silk threads — letter D in buttonhole twist for the warp and letter A sewing-silk for the woof, with a No. 12 needle. These may be used with as fine beads as 5-0. In weaving with silk it will be wise to wax both warp and woof threads. In fact, some bead workers consider this essential with cotton and linen as well.

Reference Used: Copyright 1904 by Doubleday, Page and Company Published May 1904 (in public domain due to expiration of copyright)

White, Mary. How to Do Beadwork Complete with 100 Illustrations (Kindle Location 38). . Kindle Edition.

Re-Written by: Connie Limon, Bead Jewelry Artisan. Purchase handmade bead jewelry at Carmilita Earrings,

Is it Time to Get Creative at Beading

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In this article we can take a look at several different kinds of thread, and some basic knots. A little further down in the article I will tell you the name of the book I am reviewing for your further reading and trying out some of the projects presented in the book.

Anyone trying to learn more about the craft and art of beading needs to be familiar with terms of all the bells and whistles it takes to proceed and to learn from the experts which is best for which project. I like to be prepared having all my materials and tools laid out beforehand as well as shopping around for best prices. I have to know what I am price checking before I can price check. This is the information I hope to give you in this article and many others I am writing now about the art of beading.

They might all sound just about the same, but if you read them word for word, you will find they are all different and will offer you perhaps some information you did not have before you read my book review.

If what I tell you about the book sounds like something you want to read or has projects you want to try, then go further and buy the book.

In my series of beading articles on bead book reviews, I am like the captain that goes out to sea first and brings back the news of whether or not you should make the trip as well and even more than that, if you decide not to make the trip or buy the book, perhaps just a little bit of information you did not have before is my goal.

Types of Thread

Parallel filament nylon thread such as Nymo or C-Lon is durable and easy to thread, which is certainly a plus in my estimation, yet this writer says it can also be prone to stretching and fraying. It is best used in bead weaving and bead embroidery.

Piled Nylon Thread such as Silamide is a very strong and durable thread, and more resistant to fraying than parallel filament nylon thread. Writer says it is best used for twisted fringe, bead crochet, and bead work that needs a lot of body.

Piled gel-spun polyethylene such as Power Pro or Dandyline is said to be almost unbreakable, it doesn’t stretch and it resist fraying. Because of the thickness of this thread it can be difficult to make multiple passes through a bead. This thread is ideal for stitching with larger beads like pressed glass and crystals.

Parallel filament GSP such as fireline is extremely strong, does not stretch and resists fraying. Be aware that crystals may cut through this thread and smoke colored can leave a black residue on hands and beads. This thread is most appropriate for bead stitching.

Polyester thread such as Gutermann does not stretch and comes in many colors. Be aware that it can become fuzzy with use. Use this thread for bead crochet and bead embroidery. Thread must also match the fabric.

Flexible beading wire is stronger than thread and does not stretch. Use flexible beading wire for stringing most gemstones, crystals and glass beads.

Thread Tips:

Adding Thread or To Add A thread

Sew into the bead work several rows or rounds prior to the point where the last bead was added to leave a short tail.

Basic Knots:

Overhand Knot: Make a loop with thread, pull the thread through loop and tighten.

Square Knot: 1. Cross one end of thread over and under the other end. Pull both ends to tighten the first half of knot. 2. Cross the first end of thread over and under the other end. Pull both ends to tighten.

In this book you can also learn how to do the Surgeon’s Knot, how to stop a bead, crochet slip knot and chain stitch, and beaded back stitching.

Other basic stitches taught are:

The Brick Stitch
The Herringbone Stitch
The Ladder Stitch and a Cross weave Technique
Forming a Ring

The Basics of Stringing and Wire work which includes:

Opening and Closing Loops and Jump Rings
Making a Plain Loop
Making a Wrapped Loop
Wraps Looped Above a Top-Drilled Bead

In this book are some stunning single stitch projects including:

Netting: A Hex-a-lot Bracelet in a zig-zag pattern of hex-cut sead beads. This is a design by Alice Kharon.

A gorgeous Peyote Stitch Floral Garland Bracelet, a Brick Stitch pair of earrings and many more, all complete with step by step instructions, colorful photographs, and many diagrams. All total I counted about 78 different and stunning jewelry projects. This book would be enough to keep one person busy for the next 10 years or more in my opinion. Will I try any of them? I might. They sure are beautiful and would be wonderful displays in any art show as well as for sale in your Etsy Shops. There are more single stitch projects detailed in the book.

Here are some of the names of projects:

Deco Egyptian Bracelet
Flower-Path Bracelet
Christmas Sweater Bracelet
Pumpkin Patch Bracelet
and of course many more up to about 78 is what I counted.

Resource Used: Book I am reviewing is entitled: Creative Beading. Vol. 11: The Best Projects From a Year of Bead and Button Magazine by the editors of Bead & Button Magazine. It has enlightened me to subscribe to the Bead & Button Magazine as well. I may never lift my head back up again!

Book Review Written by: Connie Limon, Bead Jewelry Artisan
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How to Make a Brand New Pair of Earrings or Bracelet in a Couple of Hours

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Learn to make jewelry using two hole beads! Having only two holes makes them relatively easy and quick to create projects. Two hole beads come in a variety of colors, textures, styles and shapes.

What is required to get started?

Good lighting
A needle and thread (try using braided fishing line for two hole beads)
and a pile of beads
hardware or jewelry components such as clasps, jump rings, chains, etc.

Some brand names of beads to help you get started are:

SuperDuos made by Matubo in Czech Republic
Twin Beads made by Preciosa in Czech Republic
Seed Beads, Japanese Miyuki or Toho

Be highly aware that seed beads are easily crushed to a powder. They are made from glass and will shatter to a powder easily. So be careful when using the seed beads in your designs.

Tools for projects using two hole beads include:

Needles (size 11 or 12 or most projects, your pattern will specify the correct needle size, I would buy only the needle size I need for a project instead of an entire supply of different sizes you might not ever use).

Small Sharp Scissors

Chain Nose and Long Nose Pliers

Bead Mat

Bead Scoop

Awl: This tool is useful for when you find a blocked hole in a bead and also handy for untangling threads.

Two Methods of Attaching a Clasp are:

Using a loop of beads
Using jump rings

Using a loop of beads:
Take thread through bead at the end of piece, a new loop of beads are added going through the attachment ring on the clasp

Take thread back through first bead of the new loop and then through the bead at the end of the piece of jewelry again

Sew around these beads for added strength

Using Jump Rings:

Open and close jump rings by twisting them apart

Place the open jump ring through a loop of beads at the end of the jewelry and through the attachment ring on the clasp and close again

If you would like to learn more about working with two hole beads, check out the book entitled “Learn to Use Two Hole Beads,” with 20 Fabulous Projects, A Beginner’s Guide to Designing with Twin Beads, SuperDuos, and More, written by: Teresa Morse

Reference Used for Book Review: Learn to Use Two Hole Beads by Teresa Morse

Book Review written by: Connie Limon, Bead Jewelry Artisan

Jewelry Designs Unaffected by the Passage of Time

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We all know about fashion fads, and how they come into being every year and go out of popularity sometimes about as fast as they came in. There are, however, some jewelry designs that are never affected by the passage of time. They are elegant and beautiful in any time era and become classics.

I just stumbled upon a book showcasing several classical bead work jewelry designs using the following stitch techniques:

Ladder and Herringbone Stitch
the Peyote Stitch
Tubular Even Count Peyote Stitch with a Step-up
Zip Flat to Tubular or Flat to Circular
Right Angle Weave
Basic Knots
Half Hitch Knot
Overhand Knot

Some of the projects in this book are:

A Renaissance Cameo Necklace with two versions. One is embellished simply and elegantly hanging from metal braided cording and clasped with beaded pearl buttons. Version two is my favorite one and dangles from a strand of natural pearls, closed with a vermeil S-hook. The Pearl version is the one I would try. Either way you prefer, this necklace is one of the “timeless and classical” pieces of bead jewelry that just never goes out of style.

Techniques used to create the above necklace are:

Peyote Stitch Even Count
Peyote Stitch Odd Count Technique, Step Up, Step Down
Peyote Stitch Tubular, even count with decreasing
Stitch in the Ditch

There are very detailed, step by step instructions for all the techniques and for the making of each of these versions of the Cameo Necklace. The layouts in this book are fantastic complete with beautiful color photos of the finished pieces and many diagrams.

If you are a person who likes to sew, I think these projects would be ideal as you use beading needles and tapestry needles. Other materials include:

A contemporary or antique cameo
Natural pearls or or Czech Glass Pearls (for the Pearl version)
Seed Beeds
Cylinder Beads
Nylon Beading Thread

For the other version materials needed are:
Silver Silk Capture (knitted wire)
Craft Wire
Seed Beeds
The Cameo
and a few other different materials

The first version is said to be intermediate-advanced level. The second versions, which I like best, is said to be intermediate.

There are a couple pair of earring patterns I liked as well.

There are about 15 different classical jewelry design projects in this book. Names are:

Renaissance Cameo Necklace
Earrings for the Dutch Mona Lisa
The Key to Unlocking the Past
Forentine Rosette Cuff
Hebe’s Floral Earrings
Time in Motion Ring
Labyrinth Bracelet
Amalies Pearl Necklace
The Queen’s Lace Bracelet
A Token of Love and Affection
Byzantine Cuff
Necklace of Dancing Circles
Pearl Inlay Earrings
An Elegant Ladies’ Broach

As I mentioned above there are step by step, detailed instructions with many photos and diagrams. All projects are very beautiful, elegant and have a feel to me as being “romantic.” I would think as an extremely special gift, some of these projects would be worthwhile sitting down and learning how to do. Honestly, if a person never wore any of them, they would be works of art one could display in a glass cabinet that would also make could pass down through generations in families art work. I am certain they would be popular pieces at any art show.

The book is entitled: “Timeless Beadwork Designs” by: Cynthia Rutledge

Reference Used: “Timeless Beadwork Designs” written by Cynthia Rutledge, copyright 2016 by Sterling Publishing, ISBN # 978-1-4547-0875-9

Book Review Written by: Connie Limon, Bead Jewelry Artisan
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Beads and their Special Powers

Beads are like the very first of all things when it comes to jewelry making somewhat like Adam and Eve were the first of all living human beings. Beads are the first “specimens” of materials for jewelry making.

The most universal forms of jewelry started out as bracelets and necklaces. Even for me as a young child, having pierced ears was something extremely peculiar and very few girls in my community had pierced ears. Bracelets and necklaces were all around me but very few pairs of earrings and even fewer “pierced” earrings.

Early in our history world wide men and women began making jewelry from nuts, berries, teeth and bones. They soon progressed to materials like jade, rubies and pearls incorporating these into pieces of jewelry to wear.

There is even evidence necklaces were part of the stone age people’s wardrobe as excavations of early cave homes revealed pieces of shells and ivory with holes that looked as if these materials had once been used as a necklace.

Beads of hammered gold, beads inlaid with precious metals, lapis lazuli and intricately carved jade and carnelian, which were all designed to be as symbols of wealth, power, good luck and to even ward off evil spirits were found in Egypt, the Orient and America.

It is well documented that some cultures believe the use of beads provide protection. Some of the bones and shells found in the caves from stone age civilization have symbols carved that people believe have some kind of meaning about magic or protection.

Various cultures associate certain stones with specific helps. Agate, for example, is in some cultures thought to guard against spider bites and thunderstorms. Some cultures believe the stones of Jasper can bring rainfall, and amber is protection against demons.
I can say only that I do not hold any of these beliefs about beads. I just think they are pretty to look and make beautiful pieces of jewelry.
Written by: Connie Limon, Bead Jewelry Artisan
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dangle earrings agnes


Materials Used:
2 Glass Powder Blue with Chocolate and Beige Swirls Flat Beads 1 inch wide and 1 1/4 inch long
2 tiny cat’s eye beige beads 2 mm
2 tiny cat’s eye beige beads 3 mm
2 Dark Amethyst Glass Bicone Beads 8 mm
2 silver plated french fish earring hooks

Agnes Price: $15 (includes Free Shipping)