it's in the details: Deng Hao


 Deng Hao is an extraordinary designer from China.  Her combination of beading with fabrics created on digital fabric printer is inspiring.  Look at those gorgeous details of gothic European stained glass printed on silk!Though this designer is incredibly well-known in Southeast Asia, there is relatively little written about her in English.   Checkout the blog Monster ate my Couture for a bit more information.  

This video will give you a great sense of how Deng Hao's garments move, or I should say - float. 

it's in the details :: Laser Cut Lace

 It's difficult to see why lace should be so expensive; it's mostly holes. -- Mary Little Wilson

It's difficult to see why lace should be so expensive; it's mostly holes. -- Mary Little Wilson

Since my great aunt first taught me tatting, I've been hooked on making lace.  Lately my thoughts have turned to the use of laser technology.  Laser cut fabrics are popping up all over the runway.  I love these  Azzedine Alaia shoes from his Spring 2011 collection.  Last fall's AW collection from Balmain was a stunner.  Laser cut leather combined with beadwork and embroidery.  Be still my heart!


This leather bag from  BCBGMaxazria is less elaborate, but equally charming.


Inspired by these fashions, I wanted to know how I could make my own laser-cut fabrics.  Laser Cutting Shapes in Ohio created these fabrics for Vera Wang and  Marchesa.  They also work with artists!

Of course, the technology isn't limited to textiles. Check out this fabulous chair by Marcel Wanders!  I want one!


It would go well with the table by Imogen Luddy that I covet.


Pebble Charm

   "In summer, the song sings itself."  --  William Carlos Williams

"In summer, the song sings itself."  --  William Carlos Williams

Summers mean long walks along the shores of Lake Michigan in search of perfect pebbles.  I love their smooth texture in a range of earth tones.  I introduced my niece to this lovely past time.  We collected dozens of pebbles for use in making  jewelry, paper weights and other fun reminders of vacation.

To make your own pebble (or sea glass) charm you will need the following: 


Pebble (My own is 1" x 1.25".)
24 gauge non-tarnish silver wire (I used Artistic Wire from Beadalon.)
Wire cutters
Needle nose pliers
Round nose pliers
An 18" length of ribbon, chain or other necklace strand (I used a silver necklace my mother gave me years ago.)


 Cut a 12" length of wire.

 Fold the wire in half and place the pebble in its center.

Fold the wire in half and place the pebble in its center.

 Bend the wire around the pebble, wrapping tightly as you go.

Bend the wire around the pebble, wrapping tightly as you go.

 Proceed until you have completed three wraps.

Proceed until you have completed three wraps.

Firmy grasp the wire ends with your needle nose pliers. Hold the pebble steady and proceed to twist the wire with the hand holding the wire ends until you achieve the desired twist.

Once you have achieved the desired amount of twist, use your round nose pliers to bend a loop approximately 1/4" from the top of the pebble.  Using your needle nose pliers (or your fingers) bend the tail along the shaft of the loop covering the entire 1/4" length.

Split apart the remaining length of wire. Using your needle nose pliers, bend the wire into a flat spiral. Once you have completed both spirals, bend them flat against the front of the pebble charm.

To further tighten the wire against your pebble (thus holding it securely in place) and to add a bit more texture, pinch the wire with the tip of your needle nose pliers.  Twist slightly to add several crimps.


A charming reminder of sunny summer days that you can wear year round!  This also works well with found beach glass.

Sparkly Valentine's Day Door Decoration

 "Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love." -- Albert Einstein

"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love." -- Albert Einstein

This sparkly door adornment let's everyone know exactly where your sentiments lie.

You will need:

10" diameter  x 1" deep  Smoothfoam™disc

1000 5mm red sequins (give or take a sequin)

100 5mm pink sequins

Pink glitter paint

1 ball of Vanna's Glamour® in Diamond (white)

1 ball of Premier Spangle Yarn in Pink Punch

Aleene's® Turbo Tacky Glue® Pen

Flex-i-File™ Sticky Micro Stix

1 yd red grosgrain ribbon

12" of 1/4" satin ribbon

large eyed blunt tapestry needle


sponge brush

3 thumbtacks

4 ball headed straight pins

Download Heart template

Let's create!



1.  Paint the Smoothfoam™ disc.

Paint 4-5 layers on oneside allowing the paint to dry between layers.  Repeat for the other side.



2.  Glue down first line of sequins.

Download, print and cut out the heart template.  Center it on the disc.  Hold in place by securing the paper to the disc with a few thumbtacks. Trace the edge with a line of glue.  Add one sequin at a time using the Sticky Micro Stix.  These are available online or at local hobby shop and make this part go quickly and easily. If you don't have one, use a toothpick with a dab of glue on the end to pick up the sequin and position it. 


3.  Remove paper template and fill in the heart with more red sequins.

Remove the thumbtacks and carefully remove the paper template.  Working in a concentric manner from the outside in, add a line of glue and then the add the sequins.  Continue until the heart is filled.


4.   Add the pink sequins.

Add a line of glue around the perimeter of the circle and add the pink sequins.  Add random dots of glue and place pink sequins between the red sequined heart and the pink sequined circle.


5.  Add the ribbon along the edge of the disc.

Cut the ribbon to 33 inches.  Make sure to cut the ribbon on an angle on both edges to prevent fraying.  Add dots of glue along the side of the disc.  Starting at the bottom (the side where the point of the heart faces), position the ribbon in place, adding more glue as you may require

6.  Make a large tassle.

Cut one foot of Vanna's Glamour® yarn.  Thread the needle.  Put it down. There is no need to make a knot at the end.  Now take a book the length of which will be the size of you tassel.  My book was a 5" x 7" sketchbook. Holding both the Vanna's Glamour® and Premier Spangle yarn in your hand and wrap the yarn 20 times around the book.  The more yarn you wrap, the bigger the tassle!  Take your threaded needle under the top of the wrapping.  Pull tight and knot at the top.  Take your scissors and cut the yarn at the bottom. Now take another 12" of Vanna's Glamour® yarn and again thread your needle.  Hold the long end down with your thumb so it blends in with the rest of the tassle. With the needle end, wrap the yarn several times about an 1" from the top.  The yarn will poof like a ball.  Use your needle to weave the tail in and out of the bit you just wrapped to secure it.  Trim excess.  Trim your tassle so the bottom is even.  

7.  Attach the tassle to the bottom of the disc.

Trim back the edges of the knot you made at the top of your tassle. Add a dot of glue at the top of the tassle.  Attach tassle to the bottom of the disc with two pins.  Once the glue has set, you could remove the pins or leave them in like I did for an extra bit of sparkle.





Free Pattern :: DIY Flower Bracelet

 Color is the fruit of life.  --  Guillaume Apollinaire  

Color is the fruit of life.  --  Guillaume Apollinaire  

I'm a magpie.  I love shiny objects and rich saturated color.  When a sample packet of Rowlux® Illusion Film arrived in the mail,
I instantly fell in love with the product.  These 12" x 12" sheets are perfect for a multitude of projects.  Inspired by the roses in
my front garden, I made this bracelet.  The colors shift with the light, hot pink, light pink, magenta, deep red, fire engine red.  The
illusion of depth and motion is the result of thousands of tiny parabolic lenses that are molded into the surface of both sides of
of the material.  These lenses create a pattern of light reflection and refraction resulting in stunningly brilliant optical effects.  



Rowlux® Illusion Film is incredibly easy to cut with scissors, as well as punches and die cutters.  You can also score, fold and
emboss it!  

To make this bracelet you will need:

Rowlux® Illusion Film - Red Moire
Rowlux® Illusion Film - Hot Pink Serpentine
Cousin® small silver flat chain - 7" (or a size comfortable for you wrist)
Fiskars® Lever Punch - Poppy Medium
Fiskars® Hand Punch - 1/4" circle
22 7mm silver jump rings
toggle clasp
2 needle nose pliers
side cutter 


1.    Punch flower charms.  Punch 10 red and 10 pink flowers from the Rowlux® Illusion Film using the lever punch (image 1).

2.    Punch holes.  Use the hand punch to punch a hole at the top of each flower charm (image 2).

3.    Add charms to the chain.  Cut 7" of silver chain with the side cutter.  Using your needle nose pliers, open a jump ring,
       attach it to the chain and slide on a charm.  Close the ring.  Repeat until you have added all 20 charms.  Alternate colors.

4.    Add the clasp.  Use the two final jump rings to attache the toggle clasp to the chain.


Free Pattern :: Vacation Memory Beaded Necklace

  Laughter is an instant vacation -- Milton Berle    

Laughter is an instant vacation -- Milton Berle


 I didn't take a vacation this year, but I have a jar full of coins from my travels around the world.  This particular coin is an Australian dollar that I saved from a vacation 14 years ago.  I've been itching to get back to Australia, so I figured a little talisman around my neck may bring the funds required

You will need:
1 7.5 gram tube of 11/0 red Deilca / cylinder beads
1 strand of size 14/0 Czech seed beads (approx. 100 per strand)
60 8mm turquoise blue glass discs
1 spool size d red Nymo thread
1 size 10 beading needle
toggle clasp (I had silver in stock, but I think a vintage brass one would have been a bit more interesting.)
7 strand .015 inch beading wire
2  #1 crimp beads
wire cutters  
crimping pliers

Let's create!


1.    Cut a 40" piece of Nymo and thread your needle.  With your needle pick up enough beads to fit around your coin.  Slide the beads 2/3 of the way down the thread and form a circle by tying a square knot.  Pull firmly. (See picture on left).  

2.    Begin working in rounds using even-count peyote stitch and the red Delicas.  For my coin I worked 5 rounds in red and then switched to two rounds using the smaller blue beads.  For the next round you will decrease every other stitch, so add a bead as usual and on the next skip adding a bead pulling firmly.  Continue in this fashion until you finish the round. (See pictures in the middle and on the right.)

3.    Thread your needle through the beads working your way to the back.  Add the coin.  Repeat the rounds for the blue beads.  After the decrease round, work one more round in the normal fashion.  Weave the thread back into the beads and snip off access.


4.    With the tail, begin weaving in even-count flat peyote with the red beads.  Work back and forth for 3/4 of an inch.  Attach the flat peyote strip to top round of red beads on the front to form a loop.  Weave the thread through several rounds of red beads and snip off.


5.  Using the wire cutters, cut a 24" inch of beading wire.  Thread on a crimp bead and one side of the toggle clasp.  Thread the wire back through the crimp bead leaving a 1" tail and pull firmly.  Use the crimping pliers to crimp the bead in place.  Trim back the tail of the wire to 1/4".

6.  Pick up 4 red Delica beads and then a disc bead.  Continue in this fashion for 22" ending with 4 red Delica beads.  Add your coin pendant and slide down to the center.  Add a crimp bead and then the other half of the toggle clasp.  Thread the wire back through the crimp bead leaving a 1" tail and pull firmly.  Use the crimping pliers to crimp the bead into place.  Trim back the tail to just above the disc bead.  

I think this would be equally cool with shiny new quarters using those quarters featuring the states of the last family vacation or as a gift for a college student to remind them of home.

Dotty Needle-Felted Beads

 "Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment."  --  Claude Monet

"Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment."  --  Claude Monet

I love making these felted beads.  They are quick to make, easy to do and can be used in a variety of jewelry projects.  They are an offshoot of my other felting experiments and a nice alternative to the more common ball-shaped bead.  

For this particular group, I chose a woodsy palette in shades of green, chocolate and cream.  To get started you will need the following:


1 package each of Clover's Natural Wool Roving in Chocolate, Mint, Moss Green and Off White

1 Clover Needle Felting Claw & Mat Cleaner

1 Clover Needle Felting Mat (small)

1 Clover Pen Style Needle Felting Tool

1 1" biscuit cutter


Put your biscuit cutter on the mat and press it slightly into the surface to keep it stable.  Pull a tuft of the roving . Gently roll it into a ball shape and stuff it into your biscuit cutter.  


Using your needle felting tool, begin punching down the roving.  Move from the center to the edge of the circle and back.  I hold the biscuit cutter with one hand while punching with the other. (In the case of this photo, I was using my left hand to take the photo!)  Once you have a fairly uniform surface, lift up the biscuit cutter and flip it over and felt from the other side using the same process.  Continue until the bead is flat like a pancake and about 1/4 inch thick..


Remove the biscuit cutter form.  Hold the bead in place with the claw in one hand and continue felting with the tool along the edge of the bead to firm up the sides.


When the bead feels dense and firm, pull a thin tuft of a contrasting color and lay it across the surface.

Remove one of the needles from the needle felting tool.  Punch down in the center of the tuft to begin attaching it to the bead.  Twirl the tuft of roving around the needle and continue punching it into place.


It will soon form a dot.  Continue punching around the edge until the dot it is round and dense.


You now have a bead!  You may add another dot to the flip side if you wish.  

Glue your new creation on a pin.  Thread it onto a cord.  Add it to a jacket zipper. There are many possibilities!  

Free Pattern :: Sequin Pumpkin

 Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons. ~ Jim Bishop

Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons. ~ Jim Bishop

This project is a tribute to my grandma who loved to make fancy ornaments by pushing a few sequins and pins into a Smoothfoam ball. Why keep this technique for just Christmas crafts? Time to dust it off for Halloween!

2″ Smoothfoam ball
Orange acrylic paint
Sponge brush
Pencil, thimble
Assorted cup sequins (I used medium/large sizes of gold and all sizes of blue)
4mm orange seed beads
Size 11 orange seed beads
Straight pins
Large green glass bead and size 11 green seed bead

1.  Stick a toothpick into the base of the ball to be your handle and paint one layer of orange. Allow to dry, then paint a second layer and let dry.

2.  Lightly pencil in the face of your Jack-o-Lantern on the ball and fill in with blue sequins, pressed into the ball with pins. If your fingers begin to hurt, use a thimble to help you push in the pins.

3.  To fill the rest of the ball, starting at the center seam line. Pick up a small seed bead, then the larger seed bead,  then a gold sequin with your pin and push the pin into the ball. Work around the ball in rows to fill the bottom half, then the top half, slightly overlapping the sequins as you go.  Leave the very bottom of the ball empty, so the pumpkin won’t roll.

4.  When you get tot the top of the pumpkin, add a green stem by picking up a small green seed bead and a large cut glass bead on a pin and push it into position.

For more Smoothfoam crafty inspiration, go to there blog.

Huichol Inspired Day of the Dead Beaded Paper Mache Skull

  “Wherever I walk, wherever I sing, there is a blossoming of flowers, a rapture of song.    And there my heart is alive.” - - Huichol saying

“Wherever I walk, wherever I sing, there is a blossoming of flowers, a rapture of song.
And there my heart is alive.” - - Huichol saying

I've long admired the handwork of the Huichols, a Native American group living in western central Mexico.  They are well known for their art, in particular their yarn paintings and beaded objects.

 Huichol Art, thread painting on left and beaded art on the right.

Huichol Art, thread painting on left and beaded art on the right.

I've always wanted to try my own hand at beading a sculptural form, so in honor of the upcoming Day of the Dead, I have.

You will need:

paper mache skull
white acrylic paint
sponge brush
size 11/0 seed beads in assorted colors
Aleene's Glitter and Gem Glue
sheet of parchment paper
plastic lid / bead tray 

Let's create!

1.     Cover your work surface with some parchment paper.  Squirt a quarter-size amount of paint onto the paper and proceed to paint the skull.  It will need two coats of paint.  Allow the paint to dry between each layer. Hint: I use parchment paper on my craft table to keep wet objects from sticking to table surface.  The paper will easily peel away.

 2.     Lightly sketch your design onto the skull using a pencil.  Pour your first color of beads into the bead tray.  Trace your first shape with a line of glue.  Tip the toothpick into the glue.  This adds just enough tackiness to use as a tool for picking up a bead and positioning into place.  

3.     Working in small sections, fill in your entire design with beads.  To keep mine lightweight, I didn't cover the background, simply the foreground / design. 


To learn more about the Huichols and their amazing art, check out this great video.