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· Hammered sterling silver hoop earrings with blue apatite
· Swarovski crystal and chain earrings
· Beadwork Bead Expo 2007, Oakland
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· Turquoise and Bali vermeil choker

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One woman's adventures in the wide, wonderful world of beading.
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posted by Colleen Shirazi, June 29, 2007 at 9:14 PM (Pacific)

I broke my "bead cold turkey" today...I suppose I could have waited until July 1, which would have made it the full three months. But I need to make some jewelry for a particular person, so I thought it well to start getting the materials. I still need to order wire so that's going to take a while.

I've gotten quite a bit pickier about beads; normally I would have bought much more. This time I got three freshwater pearls: a relatively large one for a pendant, two smaller ones for earrings. Likewise, some lapis...a large smooth flat oval, plus two smaller faceted square shapes. Then I got a sort of art glass bead I'd been looking at for months. It just suddenly struck me it would make a perfect small pendant. It's a soft warm pink with a sort of red-brown glass rectangle shape in the center.

I'm seriously out of wire. The only goldfilled I have is some 26 gauge (I think I still have some). I have 22 gauge argentium silver, and 24 gauge regular sterling silver. (And some of that good ol' 26 gauge argentium too!)


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posted by Colleen Shirazi, May 30, 2007 at 10:35 PM (Pacific)

Started making a tutorial on how to make a pair of simple hoop earrings out of wire. It's not difficult of course, you just need a few basic tools, and once you have the tools, you can use them for other applications, such as making jewelry clasps, connectors, components in general...

I have the tools and materials part basically finished, with photos. What's frustrating is that I can't really finish it until I get some wire. The sad fact is, I've used a limited array of wire. I've hardly used soft wire at all...I bought some to wrap a few briolettes with...but in the main, I've used only half hard.

As far as gauges...I've used 20, 22, 24 and 26. For components, 20 gauge would be the thinnest you would normally use. My 22 gauge argentium silver earrings are nice but I wouldn't care to make a lot of them; they're really quite delicate.

So, that's where that is. The wire is next on my to-buy list anyway.

It's funny now that I think about it, but I actually haven't missed buying beads that much. I thought I would. There are some beads I need to make specific projects...the black crystals for the choker, some black semi-precious beads of some sort...I haven't designed anything with black semi-precious stones before, I'm clueless. Black onyx? Jet? Black obsidian? Blackstone? I would have to see them in person. Then I had the idea of large pearls and small pearls for particular projects.

Aside from these though, I've been able to keep busy using beads I already have.

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, May 27, 2007 at 9:43 PM (Pacific)

May is drawing to a close...I'm rather thinking that three months is too long for a "bead cold turkey." Actually I don't know yet. I have only a few beads in my mind now...the black crystals for the choker, some large pearls for earrings, and small pearls for the "five pearl necklace."

I'll probably get the pearls at an LBS or I could wait for the next bead show. The crystals are cheaper to buy online.

It's actually wire that I'm running out of. So I may stick to the bead cold turkey after all, and just go for a wire order.

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, May 9, 2007 at 10:40 PM (Pacific)

Okay, I have an idea now for the choker, although it is nothing like the one in the previous post's video. I'm thinking of making it entirely out of wrapped bead links and jump rings. Revisiting the earlier idea of making the "fabric" of the necklace out of such.

What's going to make it stand or fall then, given that it's going to be a simple design, is using the right crystals and wire. I checked the price for wire with a higher gold content on my supplier's site and, forget about it. This kind of thing is a real wire-eater so it will be either argentium silver or 14KT goldfill.

I actually have some argentium silver wire on hand, it's half hard but I've gotten used to working with that. If I want the jump rings to be argentium silver though, I'll have to get some wire for that. I'm envisioning using round crystals. The idea will be to use a crystal with some width, to fill up more space between the links. I'm thinking jet crystals with two finishes, regular and AB. Speculating that AB on its own would be too flashy, and plain on its own would be too ordinary.

If I get the beads now, it will go against my "bead cold turkey" since the idea was not to buy new beads until next quarter. The thing is, it's going to take me forever to finish this piece. I'm going to turn it over in my mind some, but right now I'm seeing argentium silver wire and round black crystals, two finishes (or two colors of crystal, black and clear)?

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Hammered sterling silver hoop earrings with blue apatite
posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 30, 2007 at 2:12 PM (Pacific)

sterling silver hoop earrings with blue apatite

I would rather have made these with lapis stones, but recall I'm still on my "bead cold turkey," so I used some blue apatite stones instead. Pretty pleased how they came out, would like to try making more hoop earrings.

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Swarovski crystal and chain earrings
posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 26, 2007 at 4:26 PM (Pacific)

swarovski crystal earrings on goldfilled chain

This is a very simple design...I'm working toward making "wall of crystal" earrings, but these are not it. (I suspect slightly smaller crystals would be better for the "wall of crystal" earrings.)

Still they came out nicely. I'm going to wear these today.

If you look you'll see it's largely odd pieces of wire and chain. The readymade components are the earring wires; you could just as well make your own out of goldfilled wire. I haven't bought niobium wire yet--and not sure how much cheaper it would be if I did--as I have tons of preformed niobium wires on hand.

I'm running out of supplies...on purpose. Right now I need to be more creative with what I have. It's too easy for me to jump on the Internet and find what I need for the moment, or for the next few projects...more difficult for me to look at what I have and make something interesting out of that.

I do plan on buying more supplies of course, just seeing how much I can come up with before doing so.

Note: these earrings have been redone, the original design was too unstable.

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Beadwork Bead Expo 2007, Oakland
posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 14, 2007 at 2:18 PM (Pacific)

Beadwork Bead Expo

I went to this yesterday. Here are some thoughts...

I don't have a resellers license, so I attended only the "Open to the Public" Bead Bazaar part of the show. (There is a wholesale preview as well.)

It's definitely big...and there are finds there. But there was a markup on a lot of stuff too. I felt some of it was geared less toward people who obsess about this sort of thing and more toward casual buyers. That's okay, it was still worth visiting for me, because most of the stuff I buy now is online. The opportunity to see the stuff in person was well worth the price--$6 admission with online coupon, plus parking or BART (it's downtown Oakland).

I didn't buy much, wasn't planning to since I'm doing my bead "cold turkey." I'd already decided to buy "once in a lifetime" items, such as the Venetian glass beads I could finally some from Merchant of Murano. I'm working on a necklace using some of these beads now.

And I got some pearl strands from BeadBabe/BeadBugle which were extra nice for the price.

In conclusion, worth going to, but shop carefully.

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 3, 2007 at 10:55 AM (Pacific)

Been playing with my last bead order... I'm rather liking this "cold turkey." It's different from how it is when you're just starting out and you don't have anything and you're trying to put together something nice. That's much harder, trying to figure out what you need and always finding yourself short of something crucial.

Now I have stuff, I just need to think more and plan more. It crossed my mind that I haven't been drawing...sketching on a piece of paper. That's not good. I always sketched, for programming and doing websites. If you don't find yourself drawing something, keeping a pen and paper in your handbag...that means you're doing most of your thinking when you're actually making the piece. Not good.

Heh heh, I got some of those Bali "cage beads" in the order. They are even cooler in person. You can use them either open or closed; they look beautiful either way. I toyed with the idea of combining a cage bead with a bird bead, but figured that would stretch the cage metaphor until it screamed for mercy. Or...? It would depend on the bird bead. It would have to be large enough to show that it's a bird.

Anyhow I have a necklace done. It combines both "open" and "closed" cage beads, plus I used up some rather dreadful soldered jump rings I got from Fire Mountain Gems. I shouldn't say dreadful...they're those tiny thin ones you get from FMG until you figure out you can get better soldered rings elsewhere. They never worked for me as jump rings, but they make a beautiful chain. I put these with some turquoise barrel-shaped beads. Wearing it far, so good. Will take a pic later on.

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 29, 2007 at 3:38 PM (Pacific)

I added a "cold turkey" label...I'm really warming to the idea of not buying beads or components for a set period of time. My target is next quarter, so that would be April through June.

My "ground rules" cover necessities such as beading wire, crimps, that sort of thing. Possibly bails. The idea mainly is to not get material for new projects, but rather to finish up old projects, or old projects that never got started in the first place.

I'm also thinking of doing this every year.

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Turquoise and Bali vermeil choker
posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 27, 2007 at 6:07 PM (Pacific)

I'm going on what they call "cold turkey" on the cosmetics forums...all it means is that you stop buying something for a set period of time (with a couple of ground rules of course). Makeup junkies love to buy makeup, natch, so cold turkey for them means not buying cosmetics for x months.

I have a lot of supplies now, so I'd like to not buy them It's the end of March now, so I'd like to go at least a quarter without buying beads and components. As to the ground rules, that would cover necessities such as crimps, crimp covers, stringing material, wire as needed (I don't think I actually need wire, I'm just saying)...stuff like that.

Bails and clasps and stuff like that, fall into a somewhat grey area, but I'd like to see what I can do with what I already have on hand.

Having done quite a few cosmetics cold turkeys, I can say it's easier than it looks. It's easy to fall into a habit of buying. Once you stop buying new things, you then have time and space to examine what you already have, and come up with a better concept of what you actually need.

lol! I strung this same piece three times, on a double length of softflex. The first time I got the length wrong...decided it looked best as a choker on its shortest setting. Bugger. The second time, I got the crimps right but neglected to leave enough space for the crimp covers...I'm not kidding, it was off by literally one millimeter (space enough for a 2mm crimp but not a 3mm crimp cover). It's that kind of mistake that's worth fixing, as tedious as it is, because I know it's going to bug me unto eternity if I don't fix it.

I think the engineering is good though, because so many crimps would have to fail, it's not all on one crimp, or even two.

I made the little extender chain and I'd like to see how that flies. It's regular handmade jump rings connecting soldered jump rings.

I got some tips on photographing jewelry from the's the site: Heartworks by Lori

Here the advice was to use a white background, natural indirect lighting, set the white balance setting to sunny...there is more advice also, including to use a tripod, however this is as far as I got (I don't have a tripod as of yet). It's much better focused than before.

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