TC Designs Studio

I am an independent artisan, currently focusing on hand beaded wearable and non-wearable art. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments, or to share your bead work.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Silk Knotting

I learned another new skill. I took a class at my local bead shop and learned how to knot. It was first developed (I believe) for use with pearls. They were very expensive, and rare and a little fragile, so stringing them next to each other, where they would bump and rub, was not a good thing. If you strung them on silk and and then knotted between each pearl they would be protected. This technique can be used for any beads and with almost any stringing material. I find it very zen to knot. It takes less thought, I think, when actually doing it than weaving does, although it takes some planning before you start!

These three little bracelets are made from fresh water pearls. They are three different colors, pale plum, pale peach, and a pale green. While I was knotting them, I worked in some sweet little silver stars dangling from split rings. They are each knotted with a corresponding color of silk. They have Swarovski (c) beads at each end, and are fastened with a snap clasp. Sterling Silver and silver plate

Private collection

This next piece is knotted as well. It is one of my favorites. I have had these beads forever! They were a gift from my mother. They are vintage Czech glass in spring green, purple, turquoise, and a pinkish brown from the 1950's. I fell in love with them. They are such great colors, and I love the well loved look of them, but I could not for the life of me figure private collection
out what to do with them, so I just hung on to them. After I took the knotting class, I knew I had it figured out.
I knotted three strands in varying counts, ended each of them with Bali Silver spacers. Each strand is knotted on purple silk. The clasp is a three stand sterling silver slide tube that spaces out the stands quite pleasingly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bead Renaissance Show

The Bead Renaissance Show was in town. I shopped till I dropped!

There were some really great vendors, and some that were not there that I sorely missed. Karen Bye of was one I look forward to every year and she was conspicuously absent . I ADORE her vessels, and the aromatherapy scents she sells for them. Luckily, by clicking on the link above, you can shop with her on line and look at the shows she will be at.

I stopped by the Weir Studios booth to say hi. I was incredibly lucky, and a couple of months ago I got to visit them in their studio. What an amazing place, and what wonderful people. They made me and the friend I was visiting feel so welcome. I GOT FIRST PICK OF CABS RIGHT OUT OF THE BATH AFTER THE KILN! It was so fun. (I will try to get pictures of them and get them up some time soon.)

My first stop, because I was afraid they would sell out of what I wanted, was Sonoran Beads. I had seen on their website that they were making glass end caps. My thought was that these would work for Kumihimo braids. I was right! They had some amazing samples and pieces for sale as well. I got two pairs of end caps.

The first was this gorgeous pair of borosilicate glass in their "Calla Lilly" style in swirling blues, greens, amber, and metallics. They have a fairly large opening, so will need to be part of something un-delicate.

The second set is in their "bullet" style. They are a little smaller and are flat and round. The pair I got were done in purple, amber and green with a pale pink rim.

Both pairs were $14 a set. That's a pretty good price if you figure what a set of sterling silver cones would cost in that size, and these are handmade, and really unique looking.

My next stop, again because I was wanting something in particular, was Jane's Fiber & Beads. They carry best selection of seed beads I have ever seen.
I love them! I was a little disappointed this year, they did not seem to have any where near the amount of beads they usually have with them, although they said that they had the usual assortment, just not the large quantity of each. The upshot of that was, that they had already sold out of a couple of the things I needed. I was very sad. Apparently that did not hurt my shopping ability. I found some really fun stuff. I love the colors they carry. No one else seems to carry the variety they do, and the "odd" colors they do. I really respond to the "vintage-y" looking colors, and never have any problem finding them there.

Bead Stuff is another one of my favorite places at the show. I like their selection of Czech Glass and German Glass beads. They also have a good selection of tools, and their price on Sterling Silver is really good. I got some soldered jump rings in various sizes and some really fun flower beads at $4.00 each.

For years, I have also been collecting their glass fruit beads. I got some really cute apples, in a shape I did not currently have. Some day I am going to make some really Carmen Miranda-y thing with them.

At M2 Designs (they do not seem to have a website) I got a really great hammer, $6.50, for use with steel stamps and metal. It is very ergonomic and extremely well weighted, feels really good in the hand. They were showing the (sort of) new bronze PMC. I sure would love to play with that, but it is not intended to be fired with a torch or a Hot Pot, and that is all I have access to.

At Awesome Beads & Buttons they had a really fun selection of hand dyed fibers.
I wanted it all!

What I got was, Hand Dyed Japanese Silk Cord. It is in greens, browns, golds, and plums. SO pretty. Will be a lot of fun to try with Kumihimo.

I got 12 Yards for $9.00, which I think was the show price, because they were marked $12.00.

I also found some really beautiful Czech Glass buttons. They are fabricated from new glass but made in the old molds. The designs are really wonderful. I try to get a few any time I go some where they have them. They make great clasps for bracelets, and serve as a focal point as well.

I found a really interesting strand of Dyed Marcasite in graduated donuts. It is very colorful, and I am picturing it silk knotted with rust colored silk. I found it at Kingdom Trading Company (no website I can find) for $10.00.
It reminded me of a strand an artist friend of mine did with silk knotting. Her strand was even more wonderfully colorful than mine and I am not remembering what the stone was, but she used like five strands of silk in five different colors to knot it, and it turned out amazing.

The first thing I did after getting home was document every thing I had bought, and if I had any ideas about what I wanted to do with them.

I think it is important, especially if you intend to sell your work, to keep track of what you buy, from where you bought it, and how much you payed. I find it can also help if you write down or draw any thoughts you are having about what your plans for the beads and things are.

I do this in my Bead Journal. That day, I drew pictures (not very good ones, but it means I will remember what every thing is), and then later took photos and got them on the computer.

I highly recommend this! I try to keep a journal around at all times to sketch in and jot down ideas, for my beads and for the rest of my so called life.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Beadalot update

Beadalot Enterprises

I have an update on Beadalot. THEY ARE BACK! Every once in a while I do a Google search for them, and it finally paid off!

This is the link to their Etsy store.

Go see them, they are really cool!

I am also happy to report that, as of May 14th 2009, they are offering the kits for Edward for $60.00, and you can now get just the pattern for $15.00. Personally I recommend the kit. Some of the supplies can be difficult to find, and what they are charging is a good price.

So... Yay! Very good news.

Blue Cuff Bracelet

This is a really fun bracelet to wear. It is stretchy so it is very comfortable.

It was made with square stitch on elastic using large rounded triangle beads, in a pale clear blue
lined with white, and a pale blue lined with silver. private collection

Because the beads are triangles they line up next to one another either point up or down. In this picture the white lined
are tip down, flat side up, so they are more prominent. If you flip the bracelet inside out, the silver lined would stand out more.

The bracelet measures 6 1/2" x 1"

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Trishalan Designs

I just found the greatest Blog. Trishalan Designs at If you were interested in the Kumihimo post I did, take a look at her site. She does some amazing work! She has more braids than I knew existed.

Trish also makes some of the coolest bracelets I have ever seen. She calls them Wrist Cuffs (great name!) I believe they are quilted, she beads on them, and some have Kumihimo braids on them. They are made with her own hand-dyed fabrics, which are just gorgeous. I dare you not to want them all.

She also hand-dyes her own fibers. They are so luscious looking. I want every last one of them. I am dreaming of the things I could do with them. Much jewelry comes to mind, and I keep thinking of journals made out of the fabric with the fibers for the bindings.

Take a look, this woman is talented.

In an email to me, she said that she is getting a new Takadai from Japan, I am waiting anxiously for her so start posting what she makes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Herringbone Tulip Earrings

Private collection

I have been playing with flower forms lately. I made these for my mother for Mother's Day.
I really like the tulip form from The Beaded Garden by Diane Fitzgerald. That was the starting point for these earrings.
They are done in Delicas (c) with sterling sliver findings, and are worked in herringbone.
The bead coming out of them are these gorgeous little vintage drops. I think they are German, 1930's. They are clear, but one side of each is silvered with an aurora borealis finish.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Kumihimo Disk by Hamanaka

So, I got a new toy! I went to the Bead Renaissance Show, and fell in love with a technique, that was new to me. It is an ancient art form that has been updated by Hamanaka. It is called Kumihimo. It is a form of braiding. It is really amazing what you can do with it.


Pre-Hamanaka it was done with these beautiful large stools your braid fell through a hole in the middle held by a weight, where there was a mirror, your un-braided fibers were arranged around the outside and were held in place with heavy bobbins. This picture is of a more modern Marudai.

Now you can get a foam disk that has notches in it to hold the fibers in place. I personally would still like bobbins to keep the EZ Bobs Smallfibers tangle free, especially if you are using beaded fibers. You can get little plastic bobbins that look really useful.

This picture is on my disk all set up to make a pink and black semi beaded braid. Only half a strand is beaded and I am only adding in beads every other pass.
This is the back of the disk with the braid coming through the center hole. You start with 8 fibers that you fold in half. These are tied into a knot then the knot is threaded through the center hole, and the strands are laid out onto the disk and pressed into the notches. You then start a patterned movement of the strands around the disk. "Magically", the braid falls out the center hole. It is really cool!

Once you get the hang of it, and understand the directions, it goes surprisingly fast. I was shocked at how quickly I could create a braid.
This is the first braid I did. It is made from green and off-white yarn. Just plain old Michaels stuff. I kind of like it except two things... I discovered that super glue does really weird things to yarn. It hardens immediately, and is just sucked into the yarn, creating this rock hard substance further along than you thought it would ever travel. The second is, they do not tell you how to finish a braid other than with a tassel. A single braid with a tassel would make a nice belt or a nice book mark, or key ring, but not good jewelry. So the endings on this bracelet suck!

I was so addicted at this point I had to keep going even though I did not have a clue what to do with it when I was done. The next one I tried was with green and brown C-Lon thread from Jane's Fiber and Beads. I completely beaded both sides of one thread with one of their great colors of 11 0s. It turned out so gorgeous I decided I needed to try to save it. I had to take it off of the disk though so I could continue with more.

There are many books out there, that I think will tell me how to finish a piece of jewelry, and I will be buying some of them soon!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Glass Earings

I used to design and build glass, in a Stained Glass Overlay ( SGO ) studio. I got these little glass trinkets when I worked there. I thought they would make really great earrings. They are all glass, and I am pretty sure one pair are Swarovski (c). They are on sterling silver posts with sterling ear nuts. I made a couple pairs for me, and they are just gorgeous. Understated, yet elegant and they kind of glow.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bead Embroidery Tips & More Pictures of Edward

As I said, Edward Scissor Fish is very dimensional. You can see his little suede lined mouth in this picture. That is where the scissors are supposed to go. I love his top fin, I got it to be very wavy. It is two layers thick, and when you stagger the layers, you can coax the fin into a wave shape. I am not sure I like the picture of him on his belly. He looks a little dead. I am going to pretend that he just rolled over so as to show off his gorgeous turquoise and copper belly diamond.

Private collection

So I have been working on the bead embroidered bracelet that I showed you a couple of post ago. I have been thinking about technique quite a bit, and thought I would share some of my favorite tips.

  1. I do not ever use beeswax as my thread conditioner when working in bead embroidery. It is way too sticky, and builds up on the fabric. Beeswax is normally my conditioner of choice, but it does not work well on fabric. For bead embroidery, I use Thread Heaven. Thread HeavenYou can get this at your local bead shop, any store that sells sewing supplies, or Fire Mountain Gems. It works well at strengthening the thread, and preventing a lot of fraying while you work, and does not leave a sticky residue on the fabric.
  2. I work with a fairly short piece of thread. Normally, I work with the longest piece of thread I can, often 3-4 yards at a time, undoubled. I have found that I am able to handle the length (not too many tangles), and I usually do not have any undue wear on the thread as I get to the end. If I find I am doing the frog stitch(rip it rip it out) too much, and it is getting frayed, I cut it off, but that does not usually happen. With bead embroidery it is a different story. I think it is because it is going through the fabric as well as the beads, and if you are using the correct size needle, the thread is just fitting through the hole you have created, and this makes for extra wear. So when doing bead embroidery, I generally start with about a yard, maybe a yard and a half. Part of why I work with long threads is that I hate securing thread, in and out of a piece. If you look at my entry in about the Eagle Feather Amulet Bag I made for my father, you can see how many knots I counted. That is a lot of weaving in and out! When you are working on a fabric background you do not need to weave through a bazillion beads to secure thread ends, you just make a knot and sew right through.
  3. Sew back through anything you think might be vulnerable. I have owned so many bead embroidered pieces of clothing or pillows, or curtains, or... that after a little handling, the beads start falling off. A piece of jewelry is especially vulnerable. If you are making a wall hanging, or something that will not get any wear, then you do not need to worry so much about this.
  4. Knot everything when you are done. As you work on a row, or a small section, and you come to the end, knot the thread. You do not need to start a new piece of thread, you just need to secure the small part you were working on. This way, if the thread does break one day, not everything you sewed with that piece of thread is going to fall off. A client will not be devastated if a few beads fall off and that needs to be fixed, but if large sections fall off, that does not look good, and is expensive for you to fix. You can see the catch-twenty-two here. The more you secure, the better in the long run, but if you knot after every bead, you will spend way too long on one piece, and that is not cost effective either.
  5. If you are working with sharp edged beads, you need to figure out a way to deal with them. That can be as labor intensive as sanding every last one, or you can pad them top and bottom with other beads. The last option ensures that the sharp beads do not come in contact with the thread, but it is not always the look you are aiming for.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Edward Scissor Fish

Private collection

This most amazing creature is Edward Scissor Fish. He was a kit from Beadalot Enterprises Inc. (they seem to no longer exist), although I added a little and changed a little. I just love him!

He is probably my favorite of all of my "odd little figures" that sit in a happy group where I can always see them.
He was intended as a scissor fob. His mouth is lined with suede and embroidery scissors will fit right in. He is not practical as a scissor fob for someone who lives with cats. Cats that think beading is all about them. I rescued him three times from a furry ones mouth, and decided he could go up with my oddities instead!

He is completely handmade. He c
ame with a pattern, fabric, and beads. He is completely decorated with bead embroidery, head to toe, ummm... tail, and truly just gorgeous, if I do say so myself. There is a view here of his top and belly. He is kind of squashed, so I need to get a picture of him sitting up. You can not see his top fin so well, or how his mouth opens.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More Storms

We are having more storms this evening. I was able to get on for a minute, but need to unplug the computer. I will post tomorrow, I promise.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bead Embroidery

So, I thought I would show you a piece in progress. I am making this bracelet using bead embroidery. This is a technique I really love. I have not done as much of it as I would like.

For some great instructions look at the book
Beaded Embellishment: Techniques & Designs for Embroidery on Cloth (Beadwork How-To series) by: Amy C. Clarke, Robin Atkins
That is a really great book, it will work if you are new to bead embroidery, and it will serve as great inspiration if you are experienced, and who knows, you might still learn something new.

The bracelet
, as it stands now, looks really garish. What you are seeing is my drawing of the design. I do that first so I have a general idea of what I would like it too look like, and there are less surprises along the way. It may be that I will not follow my pattern after all, but it is there for guidelines.

The "fabric" I am doing the embroidery on, is called Lacy's Stiff Stuff. It is a really great substrate for embroidery. It takes glue well, you can draw on it with various implements, and it is nice and stiff (so it will hold up to the weight of the beads), but the needle glides right through. You can find it at your local bead shop, or click on the name to go to Jane's Fiber and Beads, order page for it.

I decided on the size and general design of the bracelet, made a paper pattern, and then used that to cut out a piece of Lacy's Stiff Stuff. I glued down my centerpiece bead, a piece of Mookalite Jasper, and then used Sharpie pens to flesh out the design.

I knew that I wanted a hidden clasp, so decided to make it the same size and shape of the Mookalite. I am using a really great little clasp. It is a little unusual, in that it was designed to be a purse clasp. I will cut slits in the Lacy's Stiff Stuff, push the prongs through, squeeze in a little glue behind the clasp, place the washer over the prongs, and then bend them down to secure. I will use beads to cover up the washer and prongs on the top side.

I made a lot of color choices for this bracelet! I came up with many "bead soup" mixes (random puddles of beads, in harmonious colors) and some single colors to use on their own. My guess would be that I will not use all of the mixes nor will I use all of the colors, single or already mixed in. We will see! I think I will stop writing, right now, and go work on the bracelet. It is whispering at me. Does your bead work do that? Mine always has!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Caterpillar Bracelet


The Caterpillar Bracelet is a lush and wonderful bracelet of looped fringe . I know it does not excite everyone, but it is done in one of my favorite color combinations, purples, pink, tangerines, and aqua. It has a centerpiece of a handmade beaded bead and has a hidden sew-on-snap clasp.
It measures 7" (closed) x 1 3/4" wide.
The beaded bead is from a kit I bought from Beadalot Enterprises Inc. They do not seem to exist any longer. If anyone knows anything about them, post a comment and let us know!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Design Ideas (too many ideas, not enough time)

Here is another picture of something I would like to re-create. I have this wonderful book by Diane Fitzgerald, called The Beaded Garden. She does an amazing thistle in it. One of these days I am going to try.

This photo of a thistle was taken in the Hall Office Park in Frisco, that is covered in beautiful fields and much, much art, mainly large scale sculpture.

This photo I took of one of the fiberglass roses that are scattered about, looks like something you could make into jewelry. I have never thought too hard about what or how... But it has possibilities.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Father sent me this great postcard he made. I want so much to make something that looks like this little creature.

It was funny, at the time he sent it, I was furiously working on the Basket for Dad's Eggs. That little basket was done in almost exactly the same jewel tones, as the frog in the picture. I told him I was working on it, and he would understand later. I am thinking that what I might try with this little guy, is starting with one of the childs rubber frogs. They take paint really well. I have made lizards that way, and then wrapped them in wire strung with beads. I would like the frog to be more solidly beaded than that, though.

If anyone has any ideas. leave me a comment. I will respond to all!

As I figure this out, I will post pictures of course.

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