Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sequin Cuffs, Button Ring

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Today's post won't be very wordy. This will give you time to catch up on some posts you might have missed, like Featured Friday with Shirlee Fassell and Bead Embroidery Resources. Also, if you didn't catch it last Friday, here's a post on Vanessa's Kickstarter project.

And now... sequin cuffs! And just for fun, a button ring.

(Rainbow Cuff, flat.)

(Rainbow cuff, front view)

(Rainbow Cuff, back view with cute rose clasp.)

(Multicolored Cuff, flat.)

(Multicolored Cuff, front.)

(Multicolored cuff, back.)

(Button Ring.)

Thanks for stopping by for eye candy, and have a sequintastic day!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Featured Friday: Shirlee Fassell

Shirlee Fassell and I were cut from the same (sparkly) cloth. In a recent blog comment, she remarked that "sequins" is her middle name -- and I knew that I had to have her as a featured artist!

Following her retirement, Shirlee's love of embroidery led her to crazy quilting in 1999. She was the only one in her
classes who added sequins and rhinestones to her quilt blocks.

(From Vintage Vignettes, a 2007 crazy quilt.)

(This quilt was a finalist in the $100,000 Quilt Challenge Magazine.)

(I can see why! Gorgeous work.)

(The beetles are stumpwork, and were made from a pattern from Jane Nicholas' beetle book.)

In 2007, she took a class in tambour embroidery at Ecole Lesage In Paris France. In her own words, she was literally hooked!

"Using a tambour hook took a lot of practice," says Shirlee, "but once you get the hang of it, attaching sequins and beads to fabric is easy. Now I have found my own unique style of art quilting and use a tambour hook for the majority of the work."

(Pictures from Ecole Lesage Class, Level II.)

(A pin she made using a pattern from the Embroidery book Ecole Lesage Chez Vous.)

(Three blocks from Psychedelic Circles, her new quilt project.)

(Gorgeous finished quilt!)

Thank you, Shirlee, for sharing your beautiful work, and also your passion for tambour embroidery. It's something I hope to explore in the future!

If you've never heard of tambour embroidery before, here's a great video I found by Professor Bob Haven.

Link Shirlee was also kind enough to share some of her resources with me, which I'll be adding to Bead Embroidery Resources, as well as to another post I have in the works, which I'll try to have ready next week.

(Check out that stock room full of sequins!!! I'm seriously drooling.)

Thanks for stopping by! If you missed it last week, be sure to check out the previous Featured Friday. Have a sequintastic day!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ten Things I've Learned About Blogging

Welcome to another Ten Things Thursday at Saturday Sequins! It's been awhile since I did one of these.

Today I'd like to discuss the ten most important things I've learned about blogging. Things that have helped me make genuine friendships, create content I'm happy with, and have fun as a blogger, in general.

So without further ado...

1.) Take all blogging advice with a grain of salt. Yes, even my advice. There's a lot of blogging advice out there. Some of it will resonate with you, and some of it will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Be choosy.

The thing is? Blogging is like any other art form. You learn so-called rules and techniques, but the more you experiment, the more you discover what works for you. Then you can choose which rules to follow, which to bend, and which to break.

For every successful blogger who does X, there's another who does Y.

2.) Have fun. Keeping a blog can be a lot of work, so make it worth your while. Write the kind of blog you'd want to read!

  • Write about projects, causes, artists, and topics that excite you.
  • Share your favorite photos.
  • Choose a blog banner that makes you happy.
  • Make friends with people who inspire and entertain you.
  • Worry less about the image you present to the world, and more about having a fantastic time.
  • As you write, pretend (to yourself) that you're publishing your own little magazine, that you're teaching a class, that you're writing a private diary, or that you're a famous motivational speaker.

3.) Think Epic. One of my favorite pieces of blogging advice comes from ThinkTraffic, and it's this: Write Epic Sh*t.Link
Intimidating? A little, but epic can take many forms. An epic post can mean...

So come up with your own definition of epic and go from there!

4.) Controversy isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's one thing to write about an issue you're passionate about -- that falls solidly into the Epic category.

It's another thing to write something controversial for the sake of being controversial. For getting people riled up so they leave comments. I've seen so, so many sites that encourage people to take this route, but I've also noticed is that if it's not partnered with passion, and with compassion, the line between controversial and mean can blur.

I think it's also sensationalist like the headlines in a tabloid magazine, and just like the Enquirer, it isn't genuine. There are so many other ways to generate interest in a blog post -- like being insightful, helpful, candid, funny, informative, brave.

Note: this post on gives a great description of controversy done well.

5.) Don't be afraid to set boundaries! Speaking of being genuine, I honestly believe that blogging is more fun for you, and your reader, if you put yourself -- your history, your personality, your quirks -- into your writing.

But! It's up to you how much of yourself you share. We all have things we'd rather keep to ourselves, and we have a right to these things, and to our privacy. Exercising this right does NOT make us dishonest, withholding, or untrustworthy. It just means that we know how far our comfort zone stretches. Some zones are more elastic than others, and there's room for all of our rubber bands in the blogging world.

6.) It's about us.

One thing I hear a lot is that blogging is never about you -- it's all about your reader. That people don't care about you, so much as they care about what you can do to
help and entertain them.

Well, I agree that readers are very, very important to a blog. I also enjoy helping, inspiring and entertaining all of you in those moments where I get it right. But. I look at blogging as being about us, not you or me. The way we spend time together.

Also? Maybe I happen to know the best people in the world -- I'm open to the idea -- but I don't believe readers care nothing about an author. Some of the most amazing interactions I've seen have happened when a blogger has reached out to her audience for help. I've also seen posts where an author has invited readers to share their own troubles, and deep conversations have resulted.

The common thread? Author-reader interaction.

7.) Try new things! Especially in the beginning, it's fun to experiment with....

  • Post topics.
  • Post lengths.
  • Weekly features.
  • Fonts.
  • Post formats -- interviews, polls, lists, embedded videos, contests.
  • Photo placement.
  • Blog banners.
  • Writing style.

As you play around, you'll see what you're comfortable with and what readers respond to. You'll grow as a blogger and artist in the progress. Also, you'll avoid the dreaded Blogger's Burnout.

8.) Want to make friends? Make meaningful blog comments. This is one I'm still struggling with as an introvert and an occasionally shy person, but I've found that the best way to convince new people to interact with you is to give them a sample of who you are before they even get to your blog. There's no better way than to say genuine, and meaningful, things.

I have a post devoted to commenting in the works, and I'll go into more detail there. For now, I'll say that you can make a meaningful connection by...

  • Asking questions
  • Giving specific compliments.
  • Sharing resources.
  • Sharing personal anecdotes.
  • Promoting related posts by friends.
  • Responding to previous comments.

9.) Read blogs in your field... but also stretch.
I have a jewelry blog. I read a lot of other jewelry blogs, but since the beginning, I've included blogs about creativity, painting, business, blogging, DIY fashion, and fiber arts on my list. It's helped me meet new people and consider new techniques, but there's also a lot of overlap that I find fun and interesting. We all get blocked. We all experience burnout. We all wonder if we're "good enough."

As soon as we realize this, we begin to feel less alone, and we can help others feel less alone. That's a nice goal, isn't it?

10.) You don't have to get it right the first time. Even if you read every article ever written about blogging, you'll still have to learn through trial and error. Through experience. That's just fine!

There are things I still struggle with. Many are things I've listed today! I'm sure I'll figure them out with time, and with patience. And if you struggle with certain areas, I know you'll figure them out, too. Just keep writing, keep learning, and wear your problem-solving hat.

Now it's your turn: What are your favorite blogging tips? Which ones do you struggle with?

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and have a sequintastic day!

PS: Did you know that Lori Anderson is writing a book about creative blogging? Talk about an epic project!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bead Embroidery Resources

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

I've been making bead embroidered jewelry for about four months now. I've come a long way since those first simple pieces, and bead embroidery has quickly become my favorite form of creative expression.

(Red Galaxy by Saturday Sequins)

Today I'm going to share the great resources I've found. That way, if you haven't tried bead embroidery and would like to, you'll know where to start -- and how to take your embroidery in exciting directions. I've also provided some examples of bead embroidery for inspiration.

I divided many of the resources into jewelry and non-jewelry embroidery. Both are worth checking out, since there's a lot of overlap between them, and both are positively gorgeous!

Books/Instruction (Jewelry)

1.) Beading With Cabochons by Jamie Cloud Eakin is the first book I read, and it's my favorite guide to beading around flat-backed stones for several reasons. One, she takes you through every step of the beading process, from gluing down the stone to attaching the backing, in detail. Even nervous newcomers will feel confident. Two, she covers a number of edging and attachment techniques to take a reader from beginner to intermediate. And three, she goes beyond the projects in her book and discusses designing your own -- essential for the bead embroidery artist!

Note: her technique for creating beaded bezels is different from the other technique I've seen, which is to create bezels out of circular peyote stitch. You may find it worthwhile to learn both ways!

2.) Dimensional Bead Embroidery is another book by Jamie, and it's the perfect companion to her first book. It's more technique than project-based because it's a reference guide, so it's bound to appeal to others who, like me, prefer working on their own projects to focusing on the ones in books. There's enough material to keep even an experienced beader busy and inspired, since she features a number of techniques that I haven't seen in any of the other books on this subject, including her first book.

(Also, The Beading Gem posted a wonderful review of this book.)

3.) Every Bead Has A Story by Cyndi Lavin of Beading Arts is a wonderful resource. Not only is the first chapter of this ebook free, but it covers everything you need to know about bead embroidery, including some techniques not found in the Eakin books.

Her other chapters are a must-have, too, because they take bead embroidery in some truly unique and creative directions, like combining bead embroidery with thread embroidery and painting your own background fabrics.
(Dark Lady by Cyndi Lavin)

4.) The Art of Bead Embroidery by Heidi Kummli and Sherry Serafini. One thing I've learned about bead embroidery is that every artist has a different method, and it's helpful to expose yourself to as many as possible. Sometimes a method you learn from one teacher might not sink in, but another will, and different projects can call for different approaches.

Some people, including my friend Dawn Marie Doucette, prefer this book to Beading With Cabochons, and some people prefer Beading with Cabochons. Personally, I like the hand-holding of Eakin's book, but I also love the projects in this one -- including beaded collars and cuffs. It also offers two different perspectives on bead embroidery for the price of one!

Note: This is a good place to learn the circular peyote method of creating bezels.

(Brownie by Dawn Doucette)

Books/Instruction (Non- Jewelry)

1.) Bead and Sequin Embroidery Stitches by Stanley Levy. I borrowed this book from the library, and when I returned it after renewing it the maximum number of times, it was like letting go of an old friend. It's just that good.

Stan's instructions are thorough and easy to understand, and his projects are beautiful -- and so is his subject matter! This is a great book to read if you want to know what sequins can really do.
2.) One Bead At A Time
by Robin Atkins. Robin intended this book to be more about inspiration and healing, and if you read this post, you'll find that she didn't want to focus so much on technique and added that section at the request of a supplier.

That said, this free downloadable book is something you'll want to read if you're interested in the art therapy aspect of beadwork, if you'd like to look at some stunning work, and if you want to explore beading not just for jewelry making, but for other projects like beaded bags.

3.) Beaded Embellishment by Amy Clarke and Robin Atkins. This book is a favorite of Lisa Binkley, a very talented bead embroidery artist, and it's one I've been meaning to add to my collection for a long time.

(Adoration by Lisa Binkley.)


1.) Beadaholique offers a series of free, detailed videos on how to bead a cabochon, and they are the best, most beginner-friendly video tutorials I've seen. It's like taking a class!

2.) Dawn's video, How To Do Bead Embroidery, gives a lovely overview of the bead embroidery process.

3.) Ann Benson of Beads East offers another wonderful overview of bead embroidery called Bead Embroidery Basics. Ann also offers some free instructions on her website.

Note: this is another good place to learn the circular peyote beading technique.

4.) Cyndi Lavin also offers tutorials on her blog. This is one of my favorites. So is this.

(Calypso by Cyndi Lavin)

5.) Robin Atkins tackles some emotional aspects of beading, like what to do if you don't like a project you're in the middle of.

6.) Tochka Cborki's Livejournal entry is a wonderful tutorial, whether you're fluent in Russian or not. Excellent photography!


1.) Whimbeads is a supplier of seed beads and beading materials, including needles, Nymo thread, chain, and glass beads.

2.) Beyond Beadery is another supplier of seed beads and beading materials. Including Lacy's Stiff Stuff, Ultrasuede, HUGE spools of Nymo, and brass blanks for making cuffs!

3.) Cartwright's Sequins. I buy most of my sparklies here. They're inexpensive, and they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, finishes, and colors.

4.) A Grain of Sand is a source of vintage sequins and cabochons that fiber artist Susan
shared with me.

(My Other Great Love by Susan Elliot)

5.) Mary Tafoya sells vintage sequins and rhinestones in her Etsy shop.

Nicole's BeadBacking. I love this stuff! I finally had a chance to try it, and I reviewed it here. Dawn prefers Nicole's to Lacy's because it doesn't fray as much. Nicole's blog is also a source of inspiration because she features customers' work, and she's a talented artist, herself.

Brandywine Jewelry Supply was recommended to me by an expert wire wrapper and all-around nice man, John Penning, as a source of cabochons. After seeing John's work up close, I can tell you that the stones are good quality. They're also not outlandishly expensive, which makes them perfect for the beginner who doesn't want to spend a fortune, but who wants a good product.

8.) Art Glass Cabochons by Sandy is an Etsy shop recommended to me by Dawn. Take a look, and you'll see that each cab is a tiny work of art!

(Wolf pendant, by Dawn Doucette.)

9.) Empyrean Beads is where Susan gets her tiny gem stone beads.

(Flight Delay by Susan Elliot)

10.) Shipwreck Beads is Susan's source for strung sequins and beads for tambour embroidery -- something I'll discuss in more detail next Friday!

11.) Fields Fabrics in Michigan is where Lisa buys her Ultrasuede, and they have several locations.

12.) The Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in June is where Lisa goes for stocking up on beads and for inspiration, and it's also an event I look forward to all year long. There are seed beads, there are cabochons, there are glass and stone beads, there are sequins... and there is so much eye candy. Everything you need to bead!

Fried in France is where Shirlee Fassell bought most of her sequins. Be warned -- it's easy to spend a fortune there, since there's a minimum order!

(Photo taken by Shirlee's husband.)

14.) Shirlee recommends Berger Beads as a sequin source.

15.) Accessories of Old is another place she recommends for sequins.

16.) Gary Wilson
. Wow, Gary Wilson. I've seen his work in person several times at Bead and Button, and I'm always impressed. I recommend his stones for anyone who's ready to work with more expensive and unique cabs.

17.) Jen over at Beading Daily loves Lacy's self-adhesive pattern sheets. Great for printing your own bead embroidery designs!

Additional Inspiration (Jewelry

Here are more people to learn from and be inspired by!

1.)Laura McCabe, whose work is amazing. I love the way she uses glass eyes in her work!

2.) Edda Blume, whose work I just discovered. Stunning!

3.) Sigifredo Contreras, whose jewelry work I discovered through Pinterest. He has such a sense of shape, color and design! His website is here.
4.) Debbie Rasmussen, whose work I found through Cyndi. Debbie is largely self-taught, which blows my mind, considering the complexity of her work.

(Moon Goddess by Debbie Rasmussen -- note the sequins!)
5.) Dixie Gabric does such beautiful work!

Additional Inspiration (Non-Jewelry)

1.) Thomas Atkins, brother of Robin Atkins. His beaded quilts blow my mind!

2.) Embroidery: Italian Fashion by Federico Rocca, published by Damiani, is one Shirlee loves for inspiration. It's full of pictures of beautiful beaded and sequined dresses.

3.) Robin Atkins has another book, Hearts To Hands Bead Embroidery, which is available on Amazon in addition to her website.


1.) Mary Tafoya is a huge fan of sequins and even teaches classes on beading with sequins! Check out her site for more information, and check out the Squidoo page she created with her own embroidery resources.

2.) Lisa Binkley has three pieces in the Museum of Wisconsin Art for their exhibit entitled Uncommon Threads: Contemporary Wisconsin Textiles. Next Friday she's giving a gallery talk as part of the exhibition opening, so stop by if you're in the area!

3.) Lauren of The American Duchess
has a great blog post on the history of sequins! Complete with gorgeous photos. Thanks to Melissa Creamer for pointing this out to me.
4.) Maneki has compiled her own list of bead embroidery books -- there are some I haven't included here!
(Rainbow Cuff by Saturday Sequins)

There we have it! Everything you need, and more, to get started in bead embroidery. Special thanks to Dawn, Lisa, and Susan for their input and the use of their work in this post, Shirlee Fassell for letting me share her resources and photo of Fried, and to Debbie Rasmussen and Cyndi Lavin, who let me share their pieces. All of you are fabulous artists and fabulous people!

Your Turn. I'd love to hear about your favorite books, artists, tutorials and suppliers, as well as any tips and tricks you'd like to share. And if you'd like to share this post with your friends so we can add more voices to the conversation, I'd be very happy!

Happy beading, and have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sequin cuff and collar!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

I've been using sequins as an embellishment in my bead embroidery, and I've loved the results, but recently I started wondering... what would happen if sequins took the spotlight?

Like any good sequin scientist, I had to find out -- so I created my first sequin choker. One that can be worn two different ways!

Worn this way, it looks like a regular choker.

Worn this way, it looks like a collar! The vintage flower button makes a great focal.

Making this choker was fun and fast. It's easier to fill a space with sequins because they're so much larger than seed beads. And may I just say... they were made to take center stage? Look at all that sparkle.

In fact, I enjoyed the process so much, I decided to make a bracelet -- my very first sequin cuff.

I used another button and a large rubber ring for the clasp.

The cuff was even faster to make than the choker, and it fits my wrist perfectly!

LinkI wouldn't mind wearing it this way, either. I love that blue button.

My only challenge was knowing what to do with the thread tails in the end. When I use a lot of seed beads, I can hide the threads by weaving them in and out. This time, I couldn't do that.

I solved the problem by using the tails to attach the clasp... and by coming up with my own way to weave the remaining thread tails in and out of the brick stitch edging. I made some progress on this technique today as I was finishing the bracelet.

I can't wait to make more of these -- I want to experiment with closures like metal clasps, ribbons... and bra hooks.

That concludes today's Show and Tell! While you're here, check out my Featured Friday post on Vanessa Walilko, and most importantly, check out her Kickstarter project here!

Thanks for reading! Have a sequintastic day and a fabulous weekend!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Featured Friday: Vanessa Walilko

Welcome to another Featured Friday at Saturday Sequins!

I'm excited to introduce one of my all time favorite artists, Vanessa Walilko of Kali Butterfly.

Vanessa started out working with seed beads and created some stunning, award-winning pieces.

(Phoenix Reborn.)

(Dreams of the Fallen.)

After that, she started to focus on chain maille and to make gorgeous aluminum jewelry.

(I love this necklace! Found in her Etsy Store.)

She's also an accomplished fashion designer and has created some fantastic pieces out of aluminum rings, discs, and scales -- which I love because they remind me of sequins.

Link(Red Lizard Vest.)

Link(Chain maille and aluminum disc flapper dress. Possibly my favorite!)

Not only is she insanely talented, she's an amazing person. She's been a great teacher and mentor to me, as well as a friend, and is one of my go-to people for discussing creative ideas because she encourages me to try the big, scary stuff.

Speaking of creative ideas, she's tackling one of her most elaborate pieces to date. A chain maille wedding dress! This will take a lot of material, which is why she's decided to fund her project through Kickstarter.

If you're familiar with Kickstarter, you know that creative people bring their ideas to life by collecting pledges, and then funding, from backers -- people who promise to donate a certain amount of money, and who enjoy different rewards based on how much support they give.

Vanessa is talented, as well as driven and hardworking. She finishes what she starts, and when she completes a project, it's always outstanding. I hope you'll consider pledging your support -- getting to see this project from start to finish will be an incredible opportunity, and you don't want to miss out on those rewards! Link
For more information on Vanessa and her work, visit her website. And in case you missed it the first time, here is the link to her Kickstarter project -- complete with a video!

Thanks for joining me for today's Featured Friday!

Have a sequintastic day!