Sunday, January 15, 2017

Beads! Part 2: Glass Beads - Seed Beads

Hi everyone!  Welcome to part 2 of my series, Beads! Beads! Beads!  This week:


Oh, the myriad of glass beads!  The shapes, the sizes, the colors!  Now the category of glass beads alone has it's own encyclopedia of subcategories that are all fascinating!  We will start with seed beads, because that's what I use the most in my jewelry.

Seed beads

Basically, seed beads are made from recycled glass and raw materials melted in a furnace to make molten, red-hot glass. As the molten glass is transferred, it is poured into a long hollow tube that is shaped into the final shape of the glass bead. As the molten glass goes through the shaped hole, decompressed air is blown through the center of the liquid glass, forming the molten glass into a tube.  The glass is then pulled like taffy into a long rod shape and then cooled. Any rods that are misshapen or broken are gathered and put back into the furnace to be melted and shaped again. Once the rods are cooled, they are cut and polished into the finished seed beads.

Seed beads are made in different sizes. The unit of measurement for seed beads follows the rule that the smaller the number, the bigger the bead. For example, a 13/0 size bead would be smaller than an 11/0 bead, an 8/0 bead would be larger than an 11/0, a 6/0 is larger than an 8/0, etc.  There are different finishes such as opaque, luster, metallic, rainbow (or AB which is short for aurora borealis). There are also different cuts: rocaille, delicas, hex, to name a few. Seed beads that are the most popular are Miyuki, Czech, Toho.

Blue Angel Necklace

The art of beadweaving has been around for centuries. Just about every culture has some artwork, whether in jewelry, on clothing, or in home decor that uses seed beads in some way, shape or form.  My favorite jewelrymaking technique is beadweaving and I learn new skills and techniques every day.

So that's all for this week!  I'll have another beady post next week!  Toodles!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Beads! Beads! Beads!

Ever wondered where beads came from? Why there are so many beads? Well, I'm going to start a little history series on those very questions.

The definition of a Bead:

A bead is a small, decorative object that is formed in a variety of shapes and sizes of a material such as stone, bone, shell, glass, plastic, wood or pearl and that a small hole is drilled for threading or stringing. Beads range in size from under 1 millimetre (0.039 in) to over 1 centimetre (0.39 in) in diameter. A pair of beads made from Nassarius sea snail shells, approximately 100,000 years old, are thought to be the earliest known examples of jewellery/jewelry.[1][2] Beadwork is the art or craft of making things with beads. Beads can be woven together with specialized thread, strung onto thread or soft, flexible wire, or adhered to a surface (e.g. fabric, clay).

So...I was having trouble figuring out which type of bead to start with, so I wrote out as many types of beads as I could think of on pieces of paper, put them in a bowl and pulled out:

Wood Beads!

Beads have been around for thousands of years and have been used not only for adornment, but also for currency. Wooden beads are one of the oldest beads in existence. They are usually light in weight and usually very cheap in price, depending on the wood they are made from and how they are manufactured. They can be made from just about any type of wood: oak, maple, sandalwood, rosewood, baobab, cypress, apple, maple, cherry, and so much more.  Wood beads can be found in everything from the early abacus to rosaries, to jewelry and furnishings, like curtains, macrame plant holders, and back massagers.

 Being a product of nature, wooden beads give an obvious organic, warm and natural feel to jewelry pieces, especially when they are paired with hand-hammered metals or freeform shells and gemstones.  If you want that special bead that stands out in your piece, there are those that are hand carved using exotic hardwoods, such as these gorgeous antique beads made in Hong Kong from Earthly Adornments.

For a Bohemian look, try pairing wooden beads like in this beautiful Vintage Bead Necklace from Windermerestudio. The whole focus here is freeform: different sizes, colors, textures and patterns.  You can even buy some unfinished wood beads, stain and color and carve them yourself and make your own unique patterns and textures.

Wooden beads are the perfect starting point on your beading journey, simply because there is no wrong turn when putting different beads together.  So do a little searching of your own and get started beading your own natural piece of jewelry!

That's all for now! I'll be back soon with another bead for you!  Toodles!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Happy Autumn!!

Autumn. The air gets crisp and cool, the kids go back to school. The days grow shorter, and the leaves turn a rainbow of colors. There's leaf jumping and Halloween!! 

There's also warm, comfy clothes. Bulky warm sweaters, neck hugging cozy scarves. And a host of accessories to accessorize with them.  Check out these gorgeous pieces!

This adorable bangle is so comfortable to wear!  Made with a beautiful nylon yarn wrapped around a wooden bangle. Simple but sweet.  Available in 6 colors and more coming!

This beautiful spiral necklace is made with varying sizes of seed beads in autumn colors. Perfect over a nice sweater dress or turtleneck.

The shadows of leaves that have fallen sometimes can still be seen on the ground long after the leaves have been swept away. This is what I thought of when I made this sweet bracelet.

Well, that's all I have for you now!  There are lots more autumn jewelry pieces available in my shop!



Thursday, April 14, 2016

Food Blog: Nutrisystem Foods Review

Hi everyone!  Today's post is my second food blog featuring the Nutrisystem foods I've tasted.  I'm going to do a few foods each week and maybe branch out into other foods.  So here is the next block of items I've tried on the Nutrisystem diet.

3 Cheese Chicken

This was good.  Really good. 

However, in order to make it that way, I had to do two things:

1. ADD CHICKEN!  Okay, stop laughing!   LOL!  I am so not joking, there was NO chicken in it.  I did not taste one single cube of chicken, fresh, freeze-dried, chicken jerky, nothing.  Big disappointment.  But, it was rectified by some leftover diced roast chicken from the night before.

2. Have your seasonings on standby.  I basically had to add flavor to this to make it taste like something.  Oh, and the "cheese" part is more like a cheese sauce, and that is stretching it a bit.

As a meal that I had to have as part of the plan it was okay, once these two glaringly noticeable things were rectified.  The dried noodles cooked up perfectly and I even added a couple of chopped broccoli florets to the mix to add one of my daily veggies.  And by the way, the fact that there was no noticeable chicken in this meal you could actually substitute tuna in this and make a tuna casserole.  (Yes.  It works.)

The meal comes in a microwave-safe container like the instant cereal and noodle soup cups you can quickly nuke at work for breakfast and lunch.  A word of caution:  Watch this when it is in the microwave; do NOT walk away from it.  It boils over very fast and before you know it you will be cleaning up cheese sauce from your microwave tray.

Peanut Butter Granola Bar

This is a chewy "granola" bar with a peanut butter coating.  Now I say "granola" because there was nothing granola-like about it.  It had granola ingredients, but the granola part, as in TEXTURE, was lost on me.  It was chewy and dense like a protein bar.  It had a good taste and I would add this to my breakfast choice list, there was no aftertaste I could detect, but I just think of granola in a whole different way.  It was a pretty good bar though.

Cinnamon Bun

Now before you get jumpy up and down, "oooh Cinnabun" joyous on me, stop.  Sit down, I have some bad news.  These are not those giant, gooey concoctions you get from the mall.  ON the contrary, they are a big as a cupcake (remember the chocolate muffin I told you about?) and they a word...DRY.  Dry like birds will be looking for water if you broke this up into crumbs and fed it to them DRY.  Now, I can accept the size, after all, we ARE on a diet here.  But the dryness made me think of day-old bread.  Now before you get any more upset than you are now, I do have to say, I started getting used to them after I had my third one (I do have to say here that I bought a separate box of these so I would have more breakfast variety, I'm not really sure if they had these in one of the sample boxes.  There might have been, I just can't remember)  I put it in the oven for about two minutes and had it with some coffee and I was able to somewhat enjoy it.  It does have a nice cinnamon taste.  The bread part is not very sweet, but the icing on top kind of makes up for that.

So, there are my three food reviews this week!  I'll be back to review more next week!  Toodles!!

Go to the first Food Blog post on Nutrisystem foods here!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 Spring Trends in Jewelry

It is a cold, rainy day here in NC. But that cold rain is going to bring up some nice green lawns and colorful flowers.

A tulip and a hyacinth from my garden.

And speaking of flowers, after a little research, I found that this year's Spring trend is leaning towards the natural.  Flowers, leaves, sticks, stones, insects, anything you can find and wrap a wire or bead around.  Getting in touch with your natural surroundings.  What better way to reacquaint yourself with the new growth of Spring than to wear it?

I've seen little flowers in glass bottles, tiny ferns encased in resin, real flower terrarium pendants, so much and so pretty!  So I decided to add my voice to theirs.

Dried Flower Bangle

I took real dried flowers and added them to a gold painted bangle.  Lots of varnish to protect the fragile petals and you have a lovely way to celebrate Spring!

While this piece is not made with real flowers, it still is a very sweet way to bring springtime to your wardrobe!  It is made with a vintage floral porcelain cabochon and is finished with a teeny butterfly that moves when you do! 

So, whether you go for the real deal in flower jewelry, or just a little flower-shaped trinket, there are so many ways to bring in the fresh, new, warm days of Spring!!

Visit my shop, Patricia Bowe Designs on Etsy for more Springtime Gorgeousness!