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Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Little Piece of My Heart - Create Your Style with Swarovski

Cousin Corporation of America (CCA) sent me a lovely box full of Swarovski crystals from their new Create Your Style with Swarovski™ line due to hit A.C. Moore Crafts this month.

These pieces are so versatile you can mix them with so many different things. I love all things Swarovski.  :)  I'm partial I guess.

Well.....I really fell in love with the Swarovski Heliotrope heart pendant that was in the box.  Each time I looked at it, I really felt drawn to pay homage to the Purple Heart medal.  I did my research and found that the ribbon of the medal is purple with white trim and has gold accents.  So I decided to create a lovely "ribbon" using TOHO seed beads in Heliotrope and Matte Opaque White. I wanted gold somewhere, so I decided on a gold chain necklace.

I found these lovely pavé beads with purple crystals from CCA's Jewelry Basics line. I wanted to incorporate them somehow, but the pavé beads didn't quite make it to the final design.

It was a definitely a learning curve since I had never done a decrease Peyote stitch before....How hard could it be, right?  Apparently harder than it looked.  I think I had to rip it apart about four times before it would come out right.  The beauty of using TOHO beads is the large opening that allows for jump rings to slide in even with a ton of thread already in the bead.

After I got the first part done, I had to make a second flap so it would be able to slide on a chain. I stitched it all up along the sides leaving an opening for a thin chain to slide through.

 I chose a thin 14 kt gold plated copper chain from CCA's Elegance Metal Line.  I also put two of the purple crystals from the pave beads at the back connecting to a 14kt gold plated copper heart toggle also from the Elegance Metal line.

I have to say, I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

SPARKLE OVER LOAD with tutorial!

Sparkle overload?  Is there even such a thing?  Sounds made up to me......hehehehehhehe.  If diamonds are a girl's best friend, then Swarovski Crystals would be a diamond's best friend.

I love the fire Swarovski has.  They are well known for their quality and brilliance. 

I love it when I get showered in these amazing crystals and crystal pearls.

I recently received an awesome haul of Swarovski crystals courtesy of Cousin Corporation of America (CCA).  Can I say....LOVE LOVE LOVE!  These fiery babies are part of the new "Create Your Style with Swarovski" line rolling out to A.C. Moore the first week of May by Cousin.  This line will be an addition to the already popular Jewelry Basics line from CCA already available at A.C. Moore.

This is very exciting news for CCA. I have to say that I am so proud of Cousin Corporation of America for being part of the prestigious the "Create Your Style with Swarovski" line.  The unparalleled quality of Swarovski meets the high standard of quality and customer service of Cousin Corporation of America.  It's a win-win combination!

I put together this little tutorial for you to enjoy as you wait for the Create Your Style with Swarovski live to become available at your local A.C. Moore.  This dainty bridal bracelet is both delicate and feminine. You can stack it with other bracelets for a little added bling or alone when you want to be a delicate flower.

Create Your Style with Swarovski Bridal Bracelet  

Skill Level: Beginner

Craft Time: Under an hour

Products Used:
Swarovski Xilion Bicone Pearl Combo in Rosaline (47515518) soon to be available from A.C. Moore
Jewelry Basics 59 pc. Starter Pack in Bright Silver (34719157)
Cord Basics Coated Beading Wire (3202102
Four 4mm Silver Plated Round Beads  (2950243)
Two Crimp Covers
Two Silver Plated Noodle Beads

Tools Used:
Chain Nose
Flush Cutters
Crimp Tool
Tape Measure
Crimp Cover Closing Pliers (Optional)

Skills Needed:

Begin my measuring your wrist for size.  Mine will comfortably fit a 7 inch bracelet, but I wanted a loose fit so a 7.5 or 7.75 inch would be perfect.

Measure and cut about 5 inches more of wire than your bracelet size.

Attach a 4mm jump ring (the smallest one in the pack) to the clasp and set aside.

Layout your design to make sure it will fit within the size parameters. You can also do a test string to make sure your design will fit within the length parameters.

I ended up not using the original noodle beads I chose because they were a bit overpowering for the design.  I wanted the crystals are to be the focal point of the bracelet, not the metal.

Here are the new noodle beads

String a crimp tube and a 6 mm jump ring (largest one in the pack) onto the beading wire and push the wire back through the crimp tube forming a loop.  Push the tube back up close to the jump ring giving yourself some space between the tube and the jump ring.

Crimp the tube with your crimping pliers.  (I use crimping pliers for this instead of flat or chain nose because the crimping pliers created a small and stronger crimp.)

Photo from
Slide a crimp cover over the crimped tube and squeeze closed with either crimp cover closing pliers or your chain nose pliers.

Adding the crimp cover gives you a finished, more professional look as well as protecting your crimp.

Thread on your design and double check your length.  Adjust as needed.

If you have trouble getting your beading wire through the noodle bead, make a bend in the wire with your fingers about a half inch from the end of the wire.  This will help the wire not catch on the edge of the noodle bead.

Thread on another crimp tube and pass the wire through the jump ring of the clasp.  Push the wire back through the tube and slide the tube close to the jump ring leaving some room and crimp.  Cover the tube with a crimp cover and close the cover.

Trim off excess wire.

Wear your bracelet in style!

Monday, March 30, 2015

What Would Happen: The Reveal we are FINALLY!  If you recall back in February, fellow ambassador Dawn Doucette issued a design challenge to the rest of us Creative Circle gals.  She selected the same group of beads and findings for each of us to create a few pieces or a lot of pieces depending on what we had time to do.

The lovely haul included gemstone beads, acrylic beads, lamp work glass beads, crystals, chain, and a few pendants/charms.  Gorgeous selection if you ask me.  Dawn did an outstanding job of picking the stash.  In addition to using this stash of goodies, we were to add in our own elements from findings to beads and of course our imaginations.

I have teased you with a few of the things I had been working on over the past few weeks. Here is the reveal of what I made using these beautiful items.

The very first piece was came very quickly as far as ideas go.  The implementation of those ideas was a completely different story.  I spend the majority of the time on this bad boy as well as the majority of my stash.  I would get one idea that would morph into another one. The end result is a lovely Bohemian queen look.  It's definitely a statement piece.

Here is a list of the product numbers I used:

1 pc   34780079 - Natural Braided Jute Cord
1 pc   34718105 - Copper Oval Link Chain
1 pc   34737022 - Natural Color Thin Hemp
2 pkg 34708555 - Metal Drop Charms- Copper
1 pkg 34708550 - Metal Flower Connectors 
1 pkg 34708213 - 45pc 6mm Rondelle Copper
6 pkg 34714101 - 9pc Gemstone Teal Marbled
1 pkg 34708494 - 115 pc Coin Charm Copper
1 pkg AJM65011128 - Peace Sign Pendant 
          (Check your local Walmart)
1 pkg AJM64011010 - Tusk Pendant
          (Check your local Walmart)
Clamp Ends/Ribbon Clamps
Copper Lobster Claw Clasp and Extender Chain 
Copper Bail
Copper Jump Rings

The next piece I created required a bit more skill.  I had somewhat of an idea in my head, but wasn't sure how it would turn out.  I sketched it out and decided to give it a go.  I hand-cut a piece of 26 gauge copper sheet metal, added in some rivets, threaded 18 gauge copper wire through the rivets,  and then added in some of the pretty dark colored gemstones and lovely smoky crystals to the center piece.

Cutting out the center part was a bit tough considering I broke two saw blades on it.  I ended up having to get it started with the saw and finishing it with my sheet metal shears.  The eyelet rivets were easy to set once I punched the holes with my metal punch.  I think this one may be my favorite piece.

Cousin products used:
34714025 - Chocolate Moss Jasper
7728022 - 4mm Crystazzi Satin Button - Light Padparadscha

For my next piece, I wanted to create a simple set.  I wanted something a bit more relaxed and easy going.  I just love these lamp work beads.

Products used:
1 pc   34718105 - Copper Oval Link Chain
1 pkg 3612742  -  Teal Ceramic-Acrylic Mix Strand
Copper findings
5 inches of 20 gauge copper wire

Make sure you check out all the ambassadors' creations by clicking the links below to go to their blogs.

Molly Moore Alexander
Allison Cooling
Lisa Crone
Dawn Doucette
Rachel Goodman Nielsen
Carolina Moore
Rebecca Goodman Utermohlen

Overcoming a Challenge

"Life is not about the destination, but the journey".  We have heard this from time to time in reference to many things.  The same can be said about challenges we face.  It's not about the outcome of a challenge, but about learning from the experience.

Even sitting here trying to right this post is a challenge.  Do I go with what I know to be true and risk offending someone or do I play it safe and just talk about the fluff?

There are times in which no matter how hard we try, we can hit a brick wall.  We try and try and still fall short of what we are trying to accomplish.  Sometimes it's the materials we are working with that are giving us grief. Sometimes it's our lack of skill or mental state at the time that causes our difficulty.  When we hit those brick walls, it is important that we understand that there are things that are just completely out of our control.  Threads snap, wire breaks, beads shatter or roll off the work table. Life throws us a curve ball.  These are things that we can't control but they frustrate us as if we could somehow by the sheer desire of it not to happen can control them and prevent it.  In a perfect world, maybe.


When I hit a design challenges, I step away.  I rethink by sketching out what I was trying to do.  I usually find that my original idea was not all the great.  If I could just get my frustrations out on paper, I feel so much better.  Sometimes, I just need to change my focus.  In other words, I WALK AWAY!  I get up from the table and go do something else.  Usually that means the laundry or the dishes get done.  Sometimes I take a walk or read a good book.

When I hit a stump, (for instance trying to make a clasp that I have been making for years and no matter how hard I try I still can't get it),  I revisit a tutorial on the subject matter to make sure that I haven't missed something.

Sometimes, the challenge comes our own desire to achieve more.  There is nothing wrong with that.  These are the most difficult of challenges to overcome.  For me, I wanted to know how to do bead embroidery.  Seems simple enough, like sewing...sort of.  I watched video after video after video on how to do it.  Each one seemed to have a completely different idea on how to do it which was a bit confusing.  Glue the stone on the backing, don't glue, do this not that....don't do on and so on. But I kept trying.  I bought a couple of books on the subject and studied them.  I talked to friends who are highly skilled in bead embroidery as to what threads and backing to use.  I'm sure I drove them nuts and they were all glad that this crazy person didn't live close to them.

You have to stretch yourself to accept the possibility that you can accomplish something more.   Keep trying until you get it right no matter what you are attempting to do.  Even then it's hard and it may not look right the first time, the point is that you TRIED it.  I have learned a lot just by attempting something, like distressing a lamp.  Who would have thunk!?


Sometimes, the challenge comes from outside forces, like work.  We get a ton of paperwork dumped on us at the last minute or a meeting throws us off our game. A deadline gets moves and messes with our mojo. One of those times for me was when Cousin asked the ambassadors to create a show piece for the Bead and Button show.

I TOTALLY FREAKED OUT!  This is a show that is in front of thousands of people who have way more skill and design capability in their little finger than I have in my whole body.  I think I went into a panic attack when I got the email. After the initial shock calmed down, I did my research on the show and current design trends, sketched out my design, ordered my supplies, and got to work.  I drew inspiration from old Victorian age bridal jewelry and the wonderful style icon, Coco Chanel.

I actually sketched on paper and got frustrated.  Fortunately, I have a good bit of knowledge in using Illustrator from my graphic design days.  So, I used precise measurements of the beads and findings to plan out my design and to make sure what I had on paper would line up with that I was attempting to do.  Not everyone has to be this precise....I do.  I'm just weird like that.

Keep in mind, I am still panicking during this entire process.  I'm trying to be calm and just go with the beading flow here.  I think I shook during the entire creation and lost a ton of beads to the floor.  I can't tell you how much thread and how many needles I broke.  But, I kept going until I was done.

I ended up making two pieces that year for the same show.  I'm just crazy like that.

Looks like a hot mess!  No, does, but I think Coco Chanel would so wear this one proudly.

There was another time that Cousin sprung something on us with a Walmart - Canada project.  They hand-picked beads and findings for us and asked us to create an inspiration piece as well as a project piece for this client.  I had beads that I would have never chosen to use whatsoever!  I had limited myself by that too.  These lovely beads made their way into my heart as I worked with them.  Thank you guys at Cousin for giving us such difficult tasks to do.  It stretches us as designers.


Sometimes, our materials get us.  Breaking two saw blades on 26 gauge copper sheet metal and the blade was designed for that particular gauge for example.  GRRRRrrrrrr!  Or cracking the tip off the only top drilled briolette you have left of that color and it is no longer available and you can't purchase a new one.  Been there, done that way too many times.  Or you order one color of bead and when it arrives it's a completely different color than what it showed on the screen!  Yeah....had that happen a time or two as well.  Or snapping your best needle in the middle of stitching or busting a bead as you pass your needle and thread back through it and that bead is like in the freaking middle of your project!  Yes,  I have issues.  I admit that.  Okay....deep breath....moving on.

It is the challenges in life that help us grow and develop into who we are.  If we never allowed ourselves to room to fail, then we would never overcome.  These challenging times test our metal (pun intended). The old saying that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger really is true.  That being said....don't be afraid to try something new just because it  Be brave and let yourself be free to make changes as your design and skill set evolves.

You might just enjoy and come to love the finished projects.  Trying new techniques or projects that are more challenging to us will give us a great insight into areas we may have neglected to cultivate in our lives.

Always be grateful to those who helped you along the way.  They too were once on this very same path to discovery.


Then the one last remaining challenge we can face is the unexpected curve balls that come our way.  We have unexpected events that are completely out of our control and catch us by surprise like the death of a loved one, job loss, injury or sudden illness.  These are things that also help define us.  They give us an opportunity to either press on or to give up.  I have had my share of severe hard knocks in life.  Each time, I had a lay and wallow in my sorrow or move forward and live.  "Weeping may enure for a night, but joy comes in the morning," (Psalm 30:5b).  Things that may seem like a great disappointment have a way of turning into a great blessing. Our response to these challenges is everything. We have a choice in the matter. We can choose to allow challenges to stunt our development or allow them to stretch and strengthen us.  We choose our response - to be full of bitterness and discontentment or look for the joy hidden in the sorrow.  We choose to be an overcomer or the victim.  As for me, I CHOOSE to be an overcomer.  The pressures or "challenges" of life reveal more than we realize about the condition of our hearts. If we are still bitter from the last blow, it comes out at the next one revealing our warped perspective. The same is true for if we continually seek the good in every situation.  When we are dealt a dirty hand and we release joy in the midst of it, it shows us that we are seeing the situation with a pure heart and a clear perspective. Life has a funny way of warping our mentality and perspective when it comes to life's little challenges.  Be mindful of that.

If you are having difficulty dealing with a particular situation, change the scenery! Looking from a different perspective and fresh eyes will help to move past the disappointments and sorrow to see the best way to deal with the issue at hand.  What does a different perspective look like?  I can only tell you what has worked for me....taking a break from the situation and all the voices of other people so I can hear my own inner voice, spending time in prayer and meditating on the truth of God's Word. Whether that would be taking a short road trip through the country, a walk along the banks of a lake, a hike through the woods, deep prayer and meditation, confiding in a trusted friend or counselor, or taking a long hot bubble bath while eating tons of chocolate is completely up to you.  Find your happy place and "search for peace and seek it eagerly" (1 Peter 3:11b).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Simple and Trendy Adjustable Leather Necklace Tutorial

Haven't done one of these for a while so here is a simple tutorial for you.

All you will need about 3 feet of 2mm round leather lace and a pendant.

Products I am using:
34737017 - Cord Basics 25yd Brown Leather Cord
Pendant from the dollar bin at Walmart (Also a Cousin product)

Measure and cut 3 feet of the leather and soak in a bowl of water for about five to ten minutes to soften the leather up.  Remove and dry off with paper towels.  Give the leather a gentle squeeze to remove any excess water.

Thread your pendant onto the leather and lay the ends parallel.

This is where it might get tricky, so check out this video tutorial just in case my instructions are unclear.

Take one end and fold it back over itself and hold the other end up against it. It will make a big loop.

Wrap the folded end around itself and the other end two times.

Tuck in the end of the wrap under all the loops and pull tight.  This will pull in your large loop and get very snug.  Your large loop should disappear into the wrapping.

Repeat for the other side.  Knots should slide easily against the leather.

Enjoy your new trendy and simple sliding knot necklace.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What Would Happen - Part 3

Hello!  Today, I am continuing the series on the Design Challenge we ambassadors are working on.  In previous posts, I have introduced you to our design team challengers and showed you all the lovely supplies that were hand-picked by our design diva, Dawn Doucette.

Dawn fell into the Romantics team due to her style of designing.  Let me take a moment to reintroduce her:

Dawn Doucette -Victorian influenced, one of a kind designs, attention to the most intricate details, created works of art that become family heirlooms.
Dawn has been designing jewelry since she was a little girl. What began as loomed friendship bracelets evolved into a business of creating couture jewelry; Bella Amore Legacy Jewelry. Dawn works with gemstones, crystals, pearls and seed beads to create one-of-a-kind statement pieces. Her designs have been published in Beadwork Magazine; winning design contests and modeled by distinguished public speakers.

Dawn is giving us a glimpse as to what she is working on for our "Design Challenge". 

Summery colors for sure.  Even though these colors are bright and cheery, I find them highly relaxing at the same time.  They are like sitting in the sun on a beach enjoying a lovely breeze across the water. I love how Dawn played off the colors of the leaf with the coral colored gemstones totally unifying the look.  I really cannot wait to see the rest of this piece.  I know it is going to be amazing.  It looks like she also matched the bead backing to the color of the leather on the pendant as well.  Dawn's designs are very intricate and her attention to detail is unsurpassed.  I enjoy looking at all her designs.  Check out her site to see all her wonderful creations.

I have to say, I am really enjoying this challenge more than I thought I would.  I have been really spurred into creating things after being in a design funk for a while.  Thanks Dawn for helping me break through my designer's block.

Check out the previous posts:
What Would Happen?
What Would Happen - Part 2