Monday, June 30, 2008

French Beaded Flower Earrings on Etsy

I've listed a new pair of french beaded flower earrings on Etsy. The bright color combination is my toast to summer--one with remarkably lovely weather overall... so far. One hates to tempt the weather gods of Chicago, as they can be so cruel. (There was hail during Custer's Last Stand in Evanston a couple weekends ago.)

Vanessa Walilko

Handcrafted beaded jewelry, beaded dragon sculptures and chain maille

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Return of the Phoenix

I'm profoundly thrilled to report that my phoenix has returned from the offices of Bead & Button Magazine. Many thanks go out to Lynne Soto, who put up with my incessant nervous emails about the status of the piece and the contract. I hope that she won't hold it against me the next time I send in a piece to Bead & Button Magazine.

Included with the phoenix is a copy of the August 2008 issue of Bead and Button magazine. A picture of the phoenix can be seen on page 26. Now I just need to buy a bunch more issues to distribute to friends and family.

Of course, as I thought more about the phoenix, I realized that I had a couple photos of the work in progress which you can see below.

The first picture shows the phoenix after only a few beads have been added. You can see that the wing designs went through a couple revisions from my pencil marks on the Lacy's Stiff Stuff.

I wasn't able to find any online tutorials to help me out on bead embroidery (and I was too stingy at the time to buy a book on technique), so I just did what was intuitive for me and what I've done ever since. Essentially, I use a whip stitch with beads--sewing eight beads to the piece, then going through the last four beads before adding another eight beads, and so on. It was the only way I could think of to get the smooth lines that I wanted. There was probably a faster way to make it (especially finishing it...), but I'm happy with the way things turned out.

Towards the body of the phoenix, you can see light pencil marks for individual feathers. I eventually drew in all the individual feathers and bead embroidered the shapes of all of them.

The second picture is quite a jump from the first piece--it makes me wish I had done a status photo after every day I worked on it. In any case, you can see that the bird is still attached to Lacy's Stiff Stuff. I've also glued down the beak and talons made from Friendly Plastic (which has my vote for one of the best craft products around). I later sewed through the edges of the friendly plastic to help connect the plastic pieces to the Lacy's Stiff Stuff, which was a challenge.

Finishing the piece took forever. Why? I didn't want to embroider the beads to leather, favoring something lighter. I also wanted the perfect red for the back of the piece. I found an excellent shade of red satin, but knew that the satin would fray all over the place. I decided to use double-sided fabric tape to attach the satin to the Lacy's Stiff Stuff all around the edges of the piece. When I cut the edges, the satin fibers stayed in place, and I was able to embroider the edge of the piece in embroidery floss that complemented the beads (using gold embroidery floss for the work around the talons and beak).

I almost forgot: Fire Mountain Gems sent me a certificate for my award--with a picture of the phoenix printed on it!

My phoenix has been to two other states for almost 5 months, and I'm happy to have it back.

Vanessa Walilko

Handcrafted Beaded Jewelry, Beaded Dragon Sculptures, Chainmaille and an awesome bead embroidered phoenix necklace

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kathy Frey's New Website

I meant to post about this a long time ago but Kathy Frey recently launched a redesigned website for her sculptural wire jewelry. The new website looks fantastic! Check it out here:

She has a blog, too: Taming the Tangle

Vanessa Walilko

Unique Handcrafted Jewelry, Dragon Sculptures and Chainmaille.

Molly Bitters Reception at Artisan 133

Make sure to show your support for Artisan 133 this Friday from 4-8pm. There will be a reception for Molly Bitters, who, "makes finely crafted necklaces and earrings from metal and leather which she etches and embosses."

Artisan 133
133 West Prospect Avenue
Mount Prospect, IL 60056

Vanessa Walilko

Handcrafted beaded jewelry, beaded dragon sculpture, and chainmaille

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bead and Button 2008

It took about a week to recover from the Bead and Button 2008. Working the booth with Rebeca and Kat of Blue Buddha Boutique was exhausting but a lot of fun.

On the rare occasions I had a chance to step away from the jump rings, I bought myself some presents.

The first was a glass spider from Milon Townsend. Kat was the first to spot these awesome pieces of art. The spider web design in the body of the piece is pretty neat.

I also purchased an amazing ring from Saki Silver (who provided the clasps for Rebeca's Hodo bracelet class). The stone is rutilated quartz and catches the light like nothing else I've ever seen. The picture almost does it justice.

Something really cool to report: Gary Olsen produced a video on the Bead and Button show. He was kind enough to interview me for the production. The video is available here: did a really great job of capturing the Bead and Button experience and conducted interviews with some really talented people. (You can see me wearing my shrug at about nine minutes into the production--right before one of my bead heroes--Sherri Serafini. And right after her is a brief comment by the person who called me a ninja last year. Good times all around.)

Thanks to all the people in Rebeca's classes and who stopped by the booth and made the show a resounding success!

Vanessa Walilko

Handcrafted Beaded Jewelry, Beaded Dragon Sculptures and Chainmaille