Kits to make designer jewelry

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  • I turned 10 lbs of chocolate chips into 20 lbs of xmas candy in 1 day, and you can too!

    This year my bf and I decided to make chocolate covered fruits and nuts again. It’s really easy to do, and I thought I’d show you how.

    Now, before you think “my friends won’t want a homemade gift”, on years when we haven’t had time for a “food factory” we’ve given store-bought chocolate bars. The really good ones — Theo, Equal Exchange, Black and Green, Godiva, to name a few brands. And everyone always asks if we’re making chocolates again, and if they’re on the list (hint, hint).

    Making chocolates used to be a big chore. Microwave ovens make this job so much easier.  In our oven on high, it takes 2 minutes to melt a 11.5 oz bag of milk chocolate and 2 1/2 minutes to melt a 10 oz bag of semisweet.  Your microwave time may be different, so start at about 30 seconds less and work up.  You don’t want to burn the chocolate.

    Also, chocolate chips melt differently in a microwave than they do on the stove.  The chips will not lose their shape.  Here is a picture of completely melted chocolate chips.

    Melted chocolate chips

    As you can see, they look pretty much the same.  However, when you mix them, you get a nice, smooth, melted chocolate.

    For fruits, we just dip them into the chocolate and lay them on wax paper to harden. This is a sheet of chocolate covered candied ginger and papaya slices. We have also done dried fruit. It works well, too.

    chocolate covered ginger and papaya


    For nuts, we mix them with the melted chocolate and spoon them into small baking cups.  If you are really particular, you can spoon them onto wax paper, let them harden and then put them into the baking cups. But we’re making over 400 pieces of candy this year and that takes up too much space for our apartment.  As it is, we end up with towers of stacked paper box tops filled with chocolates.

    You want to put more nuts into the melted chocolate than you think you should.  Otherwise you end up with a lot of chocolate and not many nuts. Here’s a picture of the pistachio mix.  It looks a lot like baked beans.

    Chocolate pistachio mixture 

    And here’s a picture of the final product. I usually put a nut on top of the candy so people can tell what type of nuts are in the chocolate.

    chocolate cover pistachio clusters

    Once you get the hang of it, making the chocolates goes really quickly.  With only a few days left before Christmas, if you’re still stumped what to get for someone, try this.  Everybody loves homemade chocolate! (well, almost everybody)

  • How to change colors in a design.

    How often have you looked at a piece of jewelry, and loved it–except for the colors. You know just what you would wear it with, if it came in yellow instead of blue.

    Here, I will show you a few designs that are available for free on the web. We will take a look at how the colors are laid out, and figure out how to substitute colors that will match in the same way.

    It helps if you have some idea of how to work with a color wheel. Here are two websites for you that will bring you up to speed.

    For a basic overview of color theory, go to this website
    and for a discussion of how these color schemes look,
    go here

    Print out at least the first one so you can see what I’m talking about.

    The first piece we’re going to look at is “Egyptian Sunset Necklace” by
    Julie Walker. It can be found on Beadwork Magazine’s site at
    This is a free pattern, however you will have to sign up to access the web
    site. They do have lots of nice free patterns tho.

    This is what the original necklace looks like

    Ok, lets say we really want a moonlight necklace instead of a sunset necklace…. Looking at the, you can see that the beads are amber and topaz colors. This means that this color scheme is monochromatic–all yellow. So to change it to moonlight change that to various shades of blue. Here’s a picture of what it would look like.

    The next one we’re going to look at is the “Flamenco Braid Necklace” by
    Linda Arline Hartung. This is also on Beadwork Magazine’s web page. You
    can download it at

    This is a split complementary design, with purple being the key color, and yellow-green and
    yellow-orange (the light tan color) being the two other colors. So to change the
    design, pick a different color as your key color, and then find the two complements.
    Make sure that you are keeping the same intensity of color…the purple and green are fairly dark
    and the yellow is very light. This keeps the design interesting. Here’s what it would look like
    with red (really pink) as the key color….

    Another way to change the colors in a design would be to choose the complementary
    colors of every color in the necklace. Again, make sure the keep the intensity of the
    colors the same, to keep the design interesting.

    Take a look at your favorite pieces of jewelry, and see if you can recognize
    the color scheme. It will take a little practice, but soon you’ll be seeing
    color palettes everywhere.

    For a look at more color palettes from professional graphic designers, go to

  • My Bead Work Tray

    My Bead TrayI use a bead tray to hold my current project. I find it’s a lot
    easier to have a solid surface underneath the bead mat – it makes
    moving the project around so much easier. I’ve found a nice
    collection of tools I use on my mat. For full disclosure, I don’t
    receive any money or other compensation for these recommendations.

    My Bead Tray and Mat

    BeadSmith bead trayI bought mine at a bead retreat with Cynthia Rutledge in 2005. The
    tray and mat are made by BeadSmith. You can buy them at



    Beadsmith Bead Mat

    My Magnetic needle keepers

    Magnetic Needle KeeperThese are the flower and leaf at the top of my bead tray. They keep
    my needles and scissors where I can find them. One problem with the
    magnetic needle keepers is that they magnetized my scissors. So
    sometimes I find my needle attached to the scissors instead of the


    My favorite scissors

    My Favorite ScissorI bought these at least 20 years ago at a Walgreen’s store. I
    absolutely love them and am so happy that one of my favorites stores
    carries them.



    My Needle Finder

    Telescoping MagnetThis telescoping magnet is usually used by car mechanics to get
    bolts that have dropped into the engine. But it works perfectly well
    for finding needles on the floor. My boyfriend is especially happy
    that I have this.

  • Wave of the Future on presale!

    Hello beadlings!

    Wave of the Future is one of Bette’s most popular collars.  It’s a very easy design to do, requiring only two sets of ladders.  This is a great starting project because you will learn the techniques you need to make the other Broad Collars.

    Wave of the Future Necklace in Jet by Bette Kelley

    Here’s what Bette has to say about the design:

    Broadcollars have been the focus of my beadwork for the last 10 years. My collars are known for their complex use of color, texture, and structure. That was then…This is now!!! The name is descriptive of the undulating shape, but also references a pun. This is collar is small, uses a clasp instead of ties, and is – Gasp – monochromatic. It is an embellishment, a subtle accessory designed to make the observer take a second look.

    The regular price for this kit is $69, but it’s on presale for $34.50. The kits should be shipping somewhere around December 1. They make up reasonably quickly and would make a wonderful Christmas present.  Once they start shipping, the price goes up, so get one now!


    Beadily yours,


  • Beads are trickling in

    for the presale Egyptian broad collars!  They are all so pretty…Makes me want to make them into other things.  But, I’ve promised you kits, so I’ll have to wait.

    The current set of beads are for:

    Ancient Alchemy
    Archetribal Memories
    Blues for the 90’s
    Caribbean Cruise
    Cranberry Bog
    Into the Woods

    If you’re interested in getting these on the presale, act fast!

  • Back to designing for a bit (via use the muse contest)

    I finally am getting to play with the beads, rather than counting them for a while.

    I joined the Use the Muse II contest and now have a wonderful set of beads to play with!  I can’t show you the Muse yet, but it’s beautiful, and very inspiring.  It will be challenging to come up with a piece worthy of it.

    Alas, this contest is closed now, but there will be a Use the Muse III contest coming up soon.  So save your pennies and join the fun!

  • Going on a beady hunt, gonna catch a big one!

    Remember this song from camp?

    I’ve been looking for the beads needed to make the new broad collar kits.  I didn’t know there were SO MANY different types of beads available!  It seems that bead stores carry only the best sellers, and then fill in a bit with unusual beads.   I’ve been drooling at all the interesting ones I’ve seen that I can only get in large quantities from wholesalers….  Gives me inspirations for the next round of designs I make.

    Some of my current favorites are:


    306-12-77193_detail161-0467238-67-61405_detail 291-14

  • My New Color Wheel

    cmyside1 cmyside2I finally got a CMY color wheel from Margie Deeb.  I have had a regular color wheel for a while.  This is the one we all used in primary school.  Red, Yellow, Blue.  However, that wasn’t matching the bead colors very well.  Margie’s wheel is a much better fit to the beads.  This makes sense when you look at the explanation on wikipedia  In the old color wheel, the combination of all colors is white.  In CMY, the combination of all colors is black.  This is much more similar to layering glass beads one on top of the other.

    If you’d like good examples of CMY color schemes, check out Margie’s blog   especially

    When you look at those posts, I’m sure you’ll want one too.  You can get them at

  • My Current Studio

    Lots of the other bloggers have been showing their studio and work rooms, so I decided to also. I moved in with my “crazy boyfriend” (his words) in July. He’s lived here for years, and works from home also. So we had to sort of shoehorn my stuff in. He’s very supportive and helpful with my bead kit endeavor and we decided to set me up in the living room. I managed to get all my beadies into/onto/under the coffee table and 2 shelves of a bookcase YAY!!


    How I store my seed beads
    How I store my seed beads


    My coffee table, where I do my selection work
    My coffee table, where I do my selection work

    I keep my size 15 and size 11 beads in large serving trays from Cost Plus. The beads themselves are in flip top boxes, or the dynamite boxes from Fire Mountain Gems (depending on where I bought them). The trays themselves live below the glass top of the coffee table. I will be keeping this technique even when I move to a larger studio, probably with with cafeteria trays and a tray rack. I like that I’m able to pull all the beads out, put them out on top of the coffee table, and start choosing colors.

    Where the rest of the beads live
    Where the rest of the beads live

    The czech glass and other specialty beads live in cigar boxes and tic tac box storage boxes in the bookcase. I still have quite a lot of room there for beads.

    Where I actually sit and bead
    Where I actually sit and bead

    I do my actual beading work at a work desk for chairs. It moves around nicely, and adjusts height and angle. My favorite beading table was an adjustable drafting table from Target, but that got jettisonned a couple of moves back as being too big to drag along. It went to my fav landscaper instead, who uses it to draw up yard designs.

    Eventually I hope to get my very own room for a studio, but that’s not in the near future. Until then, this setup works very nicely!

  • I’ve started!

    Hi all!

    As you can see, I’ve started an new endeavor.  I’ll be selling my kits at and planning to sell other designers kits also.  If you are a beadwork artist with a design you’d like kitted, or if you already have some kits and would like a different venue to sell them from, get in touch with me!

    Joann Loos

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