carnelian and black agate earrings

December 17, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Posted in beading and jewelrymaking, projects to do | 9 Comments

This is the time of year when a quick, easy gift to craft up is just the thing (for me at least, anyway). Even the simplest present can be luxurious when the materials are special! I made sets of these little Carnelian and Black Agate Earrings using my favorite semi-precious stones for Pearl’s teachers at school, and thought I’d share the how-to over here.

earrings for Pearl's teachers

For each pair of earrings, you’ll need:

Two semi-precious beads (all of mine came from Beyond Beads in San Francisco, one of my favorite places to shop)
Two earring wires
Two headpins

1. Following the Solo Earrings instructions on page 32 of Bead Simple (or this video tutorial I made), place each bead on a headpin and create a wrapped loop above it. An illustrated sequence for the wrapped loop is also on pages 20-21 in the book, for reference.

2. Clip the wire tail and press it flush with the coil above the bead. Now open your earring wire and slip the bead dangle inside, closing the earring wire loop securely afterwards. Repeat to make the second earring.

3. Wrap them any way you’d like — I sewed some Tiny Ribboned Gift Bags (how-to over here) for mine, but you could tie them together with a ribbon, tuck them into a little box, or add them to another gift, too.

earrings and pendant in the little gift bags

I also made Pearl’s main teacher a Black Agate Circle Deluxe Pendant — just follow the directions on page 121 to create your own! I put hers on an 18-inch chain instead of the neckwire the jade version in the book has, and added a simple clasp with jump rings — there’s a video showing how to do that here.

earrings and pendant for Pearl's teachers

If you’re interested, I also have two more holiday craft tutorials up today — please go check them out if you’d like to!

The Tiny Ribboned Gift Bags I mentioned are over at West Coast Crafty,

Little gift bags for earrings

and I designed a Tiny-Eyed Owl Ornament project for Button It Up!

Big-Eyed Owl Christmas ornament

I hope you have wonderful holidays and plenty of time to make pretty things! Thank you for your lovely support of Bead Simple the last almost-two years (!) and I’ll see you in the new year with more beading and jewelry ideas and sources to share!

free jewelry projects at the Knittn Kitten this month!

September 23, 2009 at 11:28 am | Posted in beading and jewelrymaking, vintage bits and pieces | Leave a comment


I am a huge fan of the Knittn Kitten vintage craft supply store here in Portland, and I was sad to hear that they’ve been having a tough time lately. So a group of of us are contributing free weekly craft patterns (to make everything from necklaces and beaded hairpins to iron-on patches and pincushions) to shoppers who support the store… you just need to stop by the Kitten, ask for the free pattern sheet at the counter, and buy your supplies to make the project!

Every Tuesday there will be a new project sheet up for grabs. This week (starting yesterday, September 22), Heather Mann is offering up a how-to for making the lovely Anthropologie-inspired Statement Necklace above, using all Kitten materials. And her project sheet includes a bonus pattern for this necklace, too!


And next week Teresa Sullivan will be contributing instructions for this intricate Seed Bead Hairpin project — you can make flowers or skulls with wire and seed beads. (And if you haven’t seen Teresa’s beading work before, do yourself a favor and visit her site — it’s incredible!)

Wire Flower Hairpins3

Here’s the full schedule of free craft projects, a new one each week:

September 22 – Heather
September 29 – Teresa
October 6 – Diane Gilleland
October 13 – Joey Groendes
October 20 – Christine Blystone
October 27 – Me!
November 3 – Lee Meredith
November 10 – Bridget Benton


Stay tuned to the Knittn Kitten flickr group for pictures and details on the projects to come!

new Bead Simple projects – plus a sale on books and kits!

August 21, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Posted in beading and jewelrymaking, book news, vintage bits and pieces | 2 Comments

Last month I taught a Bead + Button Jewelry class at PNCA, which was fantastic. My seven students made such beautiful things and I was really honored to be part of the Summer of Making! I wanted to share photos of some of the Bead Simple-inspired projects from the class, which were especially fun for me to see.

Sandra made some really lovely pieces, including Duo Earrings,

Bead + Button Jewelry - Summer of Making

a Duo Pendant,

Bead + Button Jewelry - Summer of Making

and a Beadweaving Bracelet.

Bead + Button Jewelry - Summer of Making

And Marty made her own exuberant version of a Sparkle Cocktail Brooch!

Bead + Button Jewelry - Summer of Making

Here it is (in progress) with its cousins from the book.

Bead + Button Jewelry - Summer of Making

If you make anything from Bead Simple, please add photos to the flickr pool or email me, I’d love to see your projects!

In other book news, Taunton is having a 25% off end-of summer sale — including signed copies of Bead Simple, which are now $14.96 instead of $19.95. Snap up a copy of my book or one of their other craft titles — over 600 of them are on sale, including Button It Up!

600 signed pages for Bead Simple

And CRAFT: is running a fantastic sale on all their craft kits in the Maker Shed, too, with at least 15% off everything in stock. Vintagesque Necklace kits are marked down to $5 (usually $12)

Vintagesque Necklace kit - smoky blue Lucite beads

and Solo Earrings kits are $2.50 (usually $6). So cool!

Solo Earrings kit - wine-red, lavender, and hot pink Lucite beads

bead + button jewelry in the summer of making

June 5, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Posted in beading and jewelrymaking, book events, crafty events, resources and info, vintage bits and pieces | Leave a comment

I’m very happy to be teaching a new jewelry-making class as part of the Summer of Making next month at the wonderful PNCA here in Portland!

summer of making

The Continuing Education department has put together a fantastic line-up of classes, and they’re offering a very generous giveaway this week if you help spread the word about them

Button It Up - cover!

from the blog:
We have a nice package of promotional items to give away. This includes a signed copy of Susan Beal’s Button It Up, Denyse Schmidt’s Quilt-It Kit, a yard of County Fair, Patchwork Promenade Print by Denyse Schmidt and a Summer of Making Poster. To win leave a comment on the blog, become a fan of Summer of Making on Facebook or mention us on your Facebook profile or blog. You will get one entry for each of these (maximum of 4). We will randomly select the winner June 21.

I am very honored to be one of the teachers alongside some of my favorite crafters. Denyse Schmidt is coming to teach a two-day workshop, which I am so excited to take! Jess Beebe is teaching By Hand: Needlework and Macrame, Sarah Schlosser-Moon is teaching Artful Blogging, Brenda Mallory is teaching Contemporary Fiber Art, and I am teaching Bead and Button Jewelry.

mending jewelry: tools and materials

I’m so excited about this class. We’ll have four days to work on jewelry, beading and embellishment techniques of all types, a luxurious amount of time to make things! Bead + Button Jewelry meets Monday through Thursday, July 20-23 from 10-3 in a nice big classroom with natural light at PNCA — all the details are here.

my finds from The Needle

from the website:
In this hands-on class, students will learn and practice a range of beading, jewelry-making and embellishment techniques, including wirework, stringing, weaving, knotting, gluing, hand-sewing, and other craft methods. Bring in your own favorite pieces to design around, complementing them with vintage and new beads, buttons, findings, chain, fabric, and other materials from Susan’s collection.

vintage beads for earrings - black white + red

Aside from the nuts and bolts of practical making, we’ll focus on color, balance, arrangements, and intuitive design – creating a collection of jewelry and other crafts that bring your treasures to life. With four days to work together, we’ll create a collection of instant favorites for gifts or for yourself, while building a strong foundation for designing future projects with your new skills.

buttons in search of their hairclips

The projects we create will reflect each student’s personal sense of style and other favorite elements – instead of a cookie-cutter approach, each designer will enjoy the flexibility to focus on what he or she prefers.

Pages from Bead Simple

If you want to know more about any of the classes, you can download a syllabus for each one on its page at the Summer of Making site. And if you have any questions about mine in particular, please ask away over here!

vintage beads for earrings - brights

One last thing: if you are interested in taking Bead + Button Jewelry, I would be thrilled to have some crafty friends in the class. If anyone who registers mentions that they read my blog or either of my book sites (or have checked out my flickr, or know me through Portland stuff) I will put together a special package of vintage beads and buttons as a thank-you! You can leave a comment here or just let me know the first day of class, and I’ll put something fun together with some of your favorite colors and styles and bring it for you to craft with the second day and beyond.

p.s. I’m cross-posting this announcement on West Coast Crafty and Button It Up, so sorry for the exact repetition if you see it more than once, but since the class ties together techniques from both of my books, I’d like to spread the word in all directions!

new projects to do!

May 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Posted in beading and jewelrymaking, vintage bits and pieces | Leave a comment

Hey, it’s been a little while! I just posted a new jewelry project at CraftStylish — taking an old costume jewelry necklace apart and turning it into a necklace-and-earrings set with new chain and embellishments here and there.

Revamped Sparkle Necklace

So if you’d like to check that out, it’s over here!

Revamped Sparkle Earrings

Another project I did there recently that I really like is this re-sparkled flower-embellished handbag.

flower-embellished handbag

It’s quite a bit like the Blossom Book project color-wise (down to using the same favorite amber rhinestone on a black background for the flower centers!) but expands the idea into a more intricate design over a bigger palette.

materials for the handbag project

I have some more news to share later this week: I’m teaching a jewelry-making class later this summer that I’m very excited about! More on all that soon…

mending broken jewelry + a brand-new video!

March 23, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Posted in book news, resources and info | Leave a comment

I just published a tutorial over at the CRAFT: blog on how to mend broken jewelry, from re-attaching clasps to linking a snapped chain back together with a bead or charm!

mending jewelry: tools and materials
tools + materials photo from Button It Up by Burcu Avsar + Zach DeSart

I hope it’s helpful if you’re wrestling with a jewelry repair — it includes written instructions, some detail photos, and two videos I’ve made. And one of them, which shows how to open and close jump rings to securely attach a clasp or turn a charm into a pendant, is brand-new!

I’ve been swamped this year with a new book, a new baby, and my usual freelance jobs, so it’s been slow going uploading the handful of videos I filmed for Bead Simple last spring… I’m much more of a crafter than a filmmaker, to say the least, and wrangling file sizes and formatting are kind of an obstacle course to an amateur like me. I’m sure any 14-year-old would whip them up in a flash but it’s taken me awhile! I hope you like the new one, though — I put it on the technique videos + patterns page and it is on YouTube right here too. More to come one of these days, I promise.

button it up + artful sewing

March 16, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Posted in book events, book news, guest designers | Leave a comment

I have a new craft book out this month, Button It Up, and I’m planning some crafty events to celebrate!

Button It Up - cover!

It has 80 projects to make with vintage (and new) buttons — plenty of jewelry, plus housewares, gifts, accessories, and embellishments — along with a techniques and materials section, a resources guide, and a short history of buttons. I’ve made a book website for it with lots more information and some bonus patterns and tutorials.

And starting this week, I’ll be doing a few crafty book events — if you are local, I’d love to see you at one of them!

Button Crafts at Powell's + Bolt!

Friday, 3/20: make button hairclips at Powell’s Books, 1005 W. Burnside St. in downtown Portland, 503-228-4651

Saturday, 3/28: make button magnets at Bolt Fabric Boutique, 2136 NE Alberta St in Portland, 503-287-BOLT

Here’s a little Bead Simple news, too: first, the Bolt event will have some crafty prizes up for grabs, including a store gift certificate, a button collection, fabric, and a signed copy of Bead Simple. Everyone who comes to the party will be entered in the drawing!

And I’ve made all my Bead Simple kits in my Etsy shop part of the fundraiser to benefit Baby Ike and the Roy family in Austin, Texas.

Solo Earrings kit - wine-red, lavender, and hot pink Lucite beads

If you are interested, you can find out lots more information at the Ikeasaurus website. Thanks to everyone who is part of this effort.

And today is the last day to enter to win a copy of my guest designer Kathy Cano Murillo’s new book, The Crafty Chica’s Guide to Artful Sewing, over at CraftStylish! You can enter here and read a review I wrote here. Congratulations, Kathy!!

Kathy Cano-Murillo's Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing!

organizing your beads + supplies

February 20, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Posted in beading and jewelrymaking, resources and info | 3 Comments

I don’t know about you, but I am constantly battling to keep my zillions of tiny jewelry-making and beading bits and pieces from taking over my whole craft room. I never had a good system until the crazy snowstorm we got in December kept me homebound for a week, and I finally had a chance to reorganize everything and get it whipped into shape!

I have always used simple plastic boxes with compartments inside to store most of my beads and charms, sorted by color. So when I got the chance to overhaul everything, I pared down what I wasn’t using and passed it along, and then made beaded labels to show what color or type was inside each organizer at a glance…

Organize Your Beads with Beaded Labels

and then I stacked them all on an open bookshelf so I could see them all at once.

Re-organized bead boxes, tools, and palette shelf

The photo above has notes all over on flickr, if you’re interested in even more of my nerdy craft room organizing details…

So if you’re looking for an easy way to get your stash straight, and want to try making simple embellished labels like these, I wrote up a tutorial over at CraftStylish.

My New Year's resolution posts on CraftStylish

All you need is cardstock, a hot glue gun, double-stick tape, and a handful of beads or rhinestones (that you have tons of so you won’t miss four or five), and you’re good to go! As a craft-room clean-up bonus, I started using a simple little plastic paint palette (89¢ from the art supply store) to round up all my loose bits and pieces in one handy spot — that way I can put them all away at once instead of one by one by one.

I’d love to hear your favorite tips for keeping your beads and jewelry-making stuff organized, if you have any to share…

hello again and some new projects to do!

February 8, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Posted in beading and jewelrymaking, resources and info | 1 Comment

Just wanted to check back in after a break of much longer than I’d planned (as usual) to say hello! I’ve always wanted to make this more of a cool-beading-stuff blog that’s more than just occasional announcements about the book, but it’s been a super busy year. So, starting now I’m going to post over here much more often, with project extras, spotlighting other jewelry-related things I like, answers to your questions about the book, and whatever else sounds fun. So please comment and let me know if there’s anything you’re wondering about and I’ll try to cover that, too.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some free beading and jewelry-making tutorials I’ve posted weekly over the last few months at CraftStylish. Here’s the one that went up today, a set of felt fortune cookies + rings just in time for Valentine’s Day. I really like this project — it is super fun to do and the teeny-tiny fortune-cookie ring is very cute on.

heartfelt fortune cookies + rings for Valentine's Day!

I’ve been contributing over there for the last year (mostly about jewelry-making and beading, with some general crafts and other stuff in the mix) along with some of my favorite crafters like Diane, Kayte, Linda, Lee, and Jennifer. CraftStylish has tons of great how-tos organized by type — crochet, embroidery, sewing, paper crafts, and a bunch of others — and you can search for what you’re especially interested in to narrow it down. It’s such a nice mix of stuff and I really recommend stopping by to check it all out!

Here are a good handful of my favorite jewelry and embellishment projects I’ve done for the site, if you liked Bead Simple and you’re looking for more projects to try. I would love to hear what you think of them! If you click the photo collage, it will lead you to direct links to each project tutorial, or you can see my whole archive of projects and other crafty posts here.

sixteen of my craft projects on CraftStylish!

I’ll be back this week with another book-related post and I am looking forward to hanging out here more often! By the way, if you are interested in more crafty stuff, I write a lot more frequently at my West Coast Crafty blog, just for fun, and you might like that too.

Holiday Cheer and kits for a good cause

December 5, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Posted in book events, crafty events, guest designers | Leave a comment

Hi Portland folks! I wanted to let you know that I will be signing my book and showing people how to make earrings at the Oregon Historical Society’s Holiday Cheer authors event on Sunday, from 1-4. I would love it if you could stop by and say hi! If anyone who reads my blog mentions that you found out about the event here, I will be happy to give you one of my new earring kits as a thank-you for visiting.

Holiday Cheer - Oregon Historical Society

It should be a really cool afternoon, with dozens of Oregon authors who write in different genres there — I am super excited about meeting Chelsea Cain, seeing Caren and Carl of Velveteria, and getting my copies of The Portland Bridge Book, Portland: People, Politics and Power, and An Architectural Guidebook to Portland signed. I’m sure I’ll find lots more good books, too — all the sales benefit the Oregon Historical Society, which is a nice bonus. Anyway, I’d love to see some crafty folks there! Thank you to OHS for having me, and especially to Lucy for suggesting me as a participant.

Also, my friend (and Bead Simple contributor) Linda has organized a fantastic fundraiser to benefit her sister Ann’s family while her brother-in-law Jasenn fights kidney cancer. Her Etsy shop, Hope for Jasenn, has a really lovely array of crafty gifts from lots of people in this community, with more on the way. Linda says, “100% of the profits from every item sold in this shop will be donated to Jasenn, Ann and Tegue to help with their everyday expenses. All of the items in this shop have been donated by generous crafters and friends, and I’d love to show my sister’s family just how supportive we crafty folks can be.” So I wanted to mention that I have two sets of my new earring kits for sale there, if you happen to be interested. Thanks!

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