Wednesday, June 8, 2016


I am in the United States and travelling to Milwaukee for the Bead & Button Show. Before I arrive in Milwaukee I visited Chicago and had a look around. What a pretty, and BIG, city.

I was instantly taken by the mixture of the old and new architecture, and new architecture made to emulate old.

Here are a few images of the old and a more recent building in an Art Deco style.

My friend/host Barbara and I decided to take a boat cruise to see the architecture of Chicago and I was certainly glad I did. 
I would recommend Wendella Boat Tours to everyone.

The commentator really knew her stuff and made the histories of Chicago, the buildings, the characters really informative and humorous during the tour.
On the right you have the tallest building in Chicago.
I took this picture as I really liked the straight lines of the buildings offset against the shorter curving lines of the shorter building.

 One of the things I didn't know was Chicago had a massive fire in 1871, dry weather and an abundance of wooden buildings, streets and sidewalks made Chicago vulnerable to fire. 
The fire burned for two days, leaving an estimated 300 people dead and 100,000 others homeless. More than 17,000 structures were destroyed and damages were estimated at $200 million.

Despite the fire's devastation, much of Chicago's physical infrastructure, including its transpotation systems, remained intact.  Reconstruction efforts began quickly and spurred great economic development and population growth, as architects laid the foundation for a modern city featuring the world's first skyscrapers. At the time of the fire, Chicago's population was approximately 324,000, within nine years there were some 500,000 Chicagoans.
By 1890, the city was a major economic and transportation hub with an estimated population of more than one million people. (In America, only New York City had a larger population at the time).

Something else I learnt was a man named George Washington Ferris, a civil engineer from Illinois, invented the Ferris wheel in the 1890's. The first Ferris wheel was built for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The total Cost of the wheel was $300,000.00. The image alongside is not the original but there is still one there.

There were some interesting images for me to play with and I really like the photo on the left here showing a modern skyscraper in the background with an old ironwork bridge, raised and no longer used.

In the evening I went to see a comedy performance at a place called "Second City Review". A lot of current well known performers/comics cut heir teeth at this theatre. 
Not being American I found some of the humour fell flat for me -  not knowing the local politics - but I still enjoyed the show and had many laughs.

Chicago is a city in which I would like to spend more time. One day is not enough and I hope to re-visit Chicago again before returning to Australia.

One other thing, I stopped at the Swarovski shop and purchased myself some man-bling.

 I shall always look at this piece and remember "I bought that in Chicago"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Travelling again.

I am getting very excited as my next trip to the USA and my second visit to the Bead & Button 
show is getting closer, not to mention my teaching in New York at Beads by Blanche.

I have been busily writing tutorials for months now. I also did a new design I am calling my
"Erin Isles" collection and have been kitting, figuring out printing, labels and packaging for 
these as well. 

The pic on the left is my 
Erin Isles - Forest Glen colour way.
The pic on the right is my
Erin Isles - Seafoam colour way.

I did do another colour scheme but wasn't happy with it so it was pulled apart.

Every experienced beaders can get it wrong sometimes.

There is such a lot of work involved when designing, writing tutorials, making and packing kits.
When travelling to teach there is not just one design to consider but many. I have not been one
for kitting my designs so when I travel to teach a mountain of work has to happen.

My intention - when I return from this journey - will be designing and kitting more regularly. 
If I do this then when I accept another teaching gig the work will already be done - well that
is the hope !!

I have been bead-weaving now for some 8 years and I am still learning heaps, still getting
my act together, still loving beading - with a passion. I doubt that will ever change.

I will be posting up my travel pics along the way so stay tuned and see what mischief I get up to.

Bon Voyage to me !!   LOL

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Inspiration - where does it come from?

People often ask me "Where do I get my ideas from?" and "what inspires me?" Being a teacher I have heard students say they don't know what to make, don't know what colour/s to use etc.

There are many areas in our daily lives capable of inspiring Bead artists so I hope to inspire you by sharing some ideas and giving some examples of where myself and other artists get our inspiration from. Believe me 
it is limitless.

First up is the pretty obvious one of


Color is around us all day and all night, it is everywhere, we even dream in color. Imagine the bright colors of Spring blossoms, the intensely rich earthy Summer desert scenes, the warm tones of Autumn leaves or the cool/cold/crisp whites of a Winter wonderland, just to name the seasons. Speaking of seasons, how about fashion colors in clothing and interior design? these also inspire and luckily regularly alter. A favorite piece of artwork, the color of someone's eyes, the changing hues of water, shadows as the sunlight moves, the sheen of feathers on a bird, the colors of a snake and the list is endless…………… here we have Aurelio Castano's color inspiration taken from an American Rattlesnake, awesome work also awesome snake.


You may have a favorite piece of fabric that you love because of its patterning or its colours? You may love the intricacy of a piece of lace. You may see terrific wallpaper in a magazine, a house, a store or even as display in a wallpaper shop.  

Pattern can be abstract like a psychedelic shirt, linear like tartan, circular like polka-dots or paisley, or a mix of all these nowadays. What about image repetition to form pattern - we see those every day and most don't even register in our mind. Seeing a row of items can inspire a design. Pattern is part of our everyday life also, just like colour is………on the left we have Cynthia Newcomer Daniel's design from a love of lace and on the right we have Sand Fibers - Carol Dean Shapre - design "Cubism" inspired by a fabric pattern.   How good do these look? (click to enlarge images)


People love to touch, love the feel of different things. Inspiration also comes from how something feels. What about a spiky ocean critter, or an echidna/porcupine. All spiney protrusions are possible to achieve with spike beads or daggers like my 'Echinoderm' bracelet.


I love architecture. Inspiration from architecture is also limitless and we have so many styles of architecture covering such a diverse and wide range from Roman to present day. Consider the curves in a modern building, the patterning of exterior finishes, the sails of an Opera House, the stain glass windows in a church, the steeples of a mosque, the lines of a gothic building, the material used to make the various surfaces and again the list is endless……… example of Art Deco architecture is the Chrysler Building in New York City inspiration for my Art Deco bracelet.


Many people paint beautiful scenery, photograph mountains and trees. We cannot escape nature as it is all around us and why not try to allow a massive scene to inspire and get the creative juices to flow? Neva Brown had Machu Picchu as the challenge inspiration for a brooch.

Duplication of what you see

This is where you make something that you see in life, a literal piece.  
My friend Regina Krawets of Kaleidoscope Wearable Art, recently designed a piece based on bubbles. We all see bubbles in our daily life and this is an amazing representation of them.

Whereas Aurelio loves bugs and fruit. Just look at the amazing workmanship in this fly, and the pineapple - an incredible eye for detail.

So here are just two examples of literal translations of what exists to inspire.


How inspiring are flowers? and floral arrangements? I think they need a special mention all of their own.
Flowers may be the biggest of all inspiration as they are very often used in jewellery. As often as the coming and going of the seasons. 

Many bead artists endeavour to create floral representations and with the amazing colours available today how could they not be inspirational!!

On the left is the beautiful Briar Rose design of Marsha Weist-Hines from Haute Ice Beadwork. Such workmanship and intricacy!

On the right is a floral grouping I made, my first. I had so much fun making this one.

Literature and imagination

So far we have only mentioned things that we physically see for inspiration. We cannot omit the images we conjure in our own mind when we are reading a book, listening to music, reciting a poem. All these things also trigger a
flow of internal imagery. 

Just look at Neva Brown's beautiful piece called "Lady of Shalott" all inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem of the same name.

There she weaves by night and day 
A magic web with colours gay. 
She has heard a whisper say, 
A curse is on her if she stay 
To look down to Camelot. 
She knows not what the curse may be, 
And so she weaveth steadily, 
And little other care hath she, 
The Lady of Shalott.

New Beads and experimentation

Last, but not least, all the new shapes and colours of beads coming out.  Inspiration is triggered when you experiment. Just sitting and playing with the variety of two hole beads now available gets your creative juices flowing. New ideas and new ways to use them are being discovered all the time. In my 'Passion Flower' brooch/ pendant we have Super-duos, lentils, two hole daggers and what an eye-catcher they make.

Just for the fun of it.

This is an interesting category for inspiration. You can find inspiration in the oddest of places to create a design very original in concept. Here we have Kris Empting-Obenland's tribute to Fred Spillmann who used cigarettes in fashion. Kris' cigarette necklace is a monument to him and I am amazed at how she has added such detail, right down to lipstick on the butts.

Today's post is just a small snippet of all the inspiration that surrounds us. Be open to what is around you, what is attractive to you, what catches your eye, your attention. All you have to do is open your eyes, really look, and be open to the possibilities. 

You have heard the line 'Stop and smell the Roses' how about changing that to 'Stop, smell the Roses, look at how beautiful the colour, how delicate the shape, how soft the petals, how pointed the thorns, how green the leaves, how interesting the angles, the light play...………...and the inspiration begins.'

Friday, April 22, 2016

Venetian Mirrors - my fourth Class in New York

I am very happy to share with you my fourth class being taught in New York in June 

"Venetian Mirrors"

I am ecstatic to say I just finished writing the tutorial for this very intricate, very step laden design.
You cannot see here, but the back has very intricate beading on it as well.  In fact the back looks very antique/vintage - well in keeping for its inspiration - the Hall of Mirrors in Versaille. 
I have done the pattern on the back to lift the rhodium plated montee cases up off the skin, 
enabling base metal allergy sufferers to wear a Venetian Mirror bracelet for themselves.

I seriously felt it would be pretty impossible for me to illustrate this design, but after 45 hours 
of writing over two and a half weeks it is completed. 
It takes so long to write as I am only able to focus for a maximum of about 4 hours, sometimes less. When I complete a long session of writing my brain feels what I call "fuzzzzzed". Kind of a not quite in the present when you stop, almost numbed.
I learnt a lot from illustrating this design. I had to really deconstruct the steps to come up with the
best way to explain each bead being added. Also being a monochromatic piece it was a challenge to show the additions and thread paths for ease of understanding.

So here is "Venetian Mirrors" I hope you enjoy looking and should you require any more information
on the classes just click on the image and you will be taken to the class details.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Gaining a Better Finish

I find it a terrible shame that a person goes to all the trouble of making a lovely
peyote band design, then attaches a slide clasp on each end, leaving the 
clasp mechanism in full view. 
In my opinion that isn't showing the piece the best way it could be shown.
With a little extra effort the mechanism can be disguised, giving your
new design a better finish.
I hope next time you make a new Peyote band design this technique will be 
beneficial to you.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Writing, Writing, Writing

In the last couple of months I have hardly touched beads - and I am missing them !!
My beading area is covered with a cloth so things don't get dusty!  Sheeeesh !!!
 This is not a complaint, just stating how I feel. 

I started out playing with beads and fell in love with bead-weaving. I got the chance to play
everyday and see what I could create. Somewhere along the journey my creations were
in demand so I added writing tutorials to my skills. Sometimes I enjoy writing as I can be 
creative in the writing, layout and look of my tutorials. It is very gratifying to illustrate a
tutorial and when all is finished the illustration looks just like the piece you created….thank God!
But other times I just get fed up with writing as it feels never-ending.  

It was said to me recently that I should sit and design and when I have a new piece, write the tutorial straight away. Yes, I agree, but that is in an 'ideal world'.
If I am flowing with designing I don't want to stop, generally one design leads to another design,
to another design and so on…….when designing juices flow you have to go with it. Don't you agree???

The problem with that is I end up with five or six new things and then I am ready to write!!!
The Buddhists say endeavour to achieve the "balance" in life. At 65 I am still struggling with that one.

Well enough griping from me.

Today, I am very pleased to share "Oriental Rose" 
the third class I am teaching in New York in June. I hope you like this one also.
For more information on classes, click on the image below.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A New Tutorial in my Store

I designed these flowers a few years back, at a time when I didn't write tutorials. 
Last ear I started writing but never got around to finishing it due to other commitments.

I am now very pleased to share I finally was able to add my 
eTutorial for the Gerbera Flower pendant  
into my Artfire Tutorial store. 
(if you wish to see more, click on the image below and you will be taken to my store)

Make one and wear it for Spring or make many and really make a statement.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Class Number Two - Pansyface

My last post was about how I am teaching in New York in June at Beads by Blanche.
Today I am happy to share images of "Pansyface" - so named as the main components remind
me of pansies and the joining components look like small alien faces.
This necklace is two sided and reversible. 
If you want more details on classes click on the purple image below.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Travelling again to Teach Classes in New York

In 2014 I travelled to USA for the Bead & Button Show and went on to teach in Orlando, FL for the Central Florida Bead Society. It was the first time I had travelled to teach outside of Australia and I enjoyed the experience very much. 

I am pretty excited to share I will be travelling again middle of this year and will be teaching four classes over four days at Beads by Blanche, New Jersey, (near Manhattan). 

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the classes I am teaching.

First up is my "Ananas" necklace, so named as the rope reminds me of pineapple skin.
I am teaching "Ananas" on Thursday June 16th, 2016.
(If you want to see all the classes at Blanche's click on the image above) 

Below is another colour way with a slight variance in the centrepiece. Both centrepieces
will be discussed in the class.
I hope you like them as much as I do.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Introducing "Palmetto"

In my last blog post I talked about how I go about designing a rope for a necklace. I was unable to show the completed piece as I was waiting for a particular event to take place. 
That event has now happened and I am pleased to introduce a new design that I am 
particularly fond of and have named "Palmetto". 

If you click on the picture it will take you to Erika Sandor's blog.
Erika has a beautiful blog page and I am thrilled to be featured there.