May 29, 2009

My first award!

I love the networking that blogging provides. Within only a few days of first launching my blog I made several "blog" friends with whom I now keep in touch regularly. It's so much fun to see how other Etsians have transferred their craft to a blog (and/or to a twitter and facebook page!) and the stories behind it all. One way blogs keep each other in the spotlight ("blog lovin'," I like to call it) is to share awards with one another. It's kind of like a e-version of a chain letter, where someone nominates you and you have to nominate others in return. I dig it. That said, today Cherry Tart Designs awarded me with the My first award! Thanks so much, Cherry Tart - I am honored! Make sure you check out her blog, too = she does super cute graphic design and even features yummy looking recipes, too! So the rules now are that I have to list 15 other blogs that I dig and inform them that they have won the award, too :) So here they are, blog of people that I already know or have met along the way that I dig. And in no particular order:
(To be official, the Rules of Blog Award Acceptance: 1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. 2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.)
Awesome! Hope we can all check out each others' blogs and find new blogs in the process! On an unrelated note, I finished Yelping about the bead stores I visited in Baltimore and Chicago. In case you are new to Yelp, it's an online community that reviews everything from stores to restaurants to doctors to hotels, you get the picture. I have really found a fun and funky community there and was asked to be an Elite member earlier this year. Dig that, too! (If you are on Yelp, holler at a sister, I love reading others' reviews!). Beading clearly makes me happy :) Here I am in front of "Happy Beadium" in Chicago (and yes I am aware that I am wearing clashing colors!). I had hoped to get pictures in front of every shop we visited, but got so caught up in the moment that I forgot! That said, I plan to bead for the majority of the weekend and have lots of new things to post next week. I had hoped to finish more items this week, but I ended up selling several items I WORE TO WORK to some co-workers (they had to force me not to just hand them the items right off of my neck!) and spent my evenings filling their orders (while watching So You Think You Can Dance, of course). The only thing that might get in my way is that my parents are arriving tomorrow for a 3 week (yes, that's 21 days) visit. Riiiiiiight. So I might not get much work done after all. Fingers crossed. Here's to a great weekend!

May 27, 2009

Laos and LA - I N S P I R A T I O N S

Perhaps my least favorite international trip was when I went to Thailand a few years back. I could get into massive detail as to why I hated this trip (think group trip for school with strangers and no translator), but I'll instead include one positive story of the "adventure." (It's all blogged here if you want to read more or see pictures!).

One Sunday, while we were visiting a church in Vientian, Laos, I met a local gal who spoke perfect English (a rarity). Her name was Sophia. We asked each other questions as little Lao children watched the foreigners interact with one of their own. She finally noticed that none of us had joined the large crowd for lunch and arranged us a table. No utensils this time, just plates of meat with vegetables through the catalyst of sticky rice balled up in ones hand. Of course the only thing on the table that was vegetarian friendly was sticky rice, and I ate as much as I could stomach to suppress my hunger. Sophia noticed that I was helpless and walked me down the street to find some food. A woman bent over a rusty cart making some kind of fried coconut milk with corn and green onion ensemble. Her skillet was similar to one we use for Danish breakfast at home, with a dozen circular inlets which produce a round shaped fried food. Sophia purchased four for me and then some friend banana from another shop across the street, and refused my money when I offered.

She explained to us that her father was a pastor and thus she had always grown us Christian, though had a hard time at school as others did not understand her cultural choices. All this time, I could not keep my eyes off her beautiful earrings, made of Tibetian silver and a kidney wire. When I mentioned that I liked her earrings, she immediately took them off and put them on my ears. She said she was just happy to help me find food and that the earrings were the least she could give me. I didn't deserve anything from this gal, nor did I have anything to give her in return but humility and thanks. (You can see Sophia and the kids of the church in the top picture, as well as me wearing the earrings later that day below). While shopping at Beadazzled in Baltimore, guess what I found? The silver tribal beads! I of course bought them right up and put them on some kidney wires. They are available on my Etsy shop here. _______________________ Also found some great inspiration in LA. For whatever reason (other than the fact that LA is rad?), I have spotted a bunch of these little tweet-like birds hanging from cables, mostly in the Hollywood area. I dig it and just had to buy these precious bird charms as a reaction (they are 12 x 17 mm and 14k gold plated with matt finish). Of course no bird necklace is complete without a Swarovski crystal and cute little bat-like charm to top it off. (Bird picture by my friend Josh).
You can view this necklace on my Etsy shop here.

May 26, 2009

Pounds of Beads, Custom made items, and Giveaway winner!

My first hobby as a young gal was collecting Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts. I think I figured it was a good way to have a similar souvenir from every city that was worth having a HRC and even practical in a sense (who doesn't love t-shirts?). My collection, at current, is at about 50, though I can't remember the last time I wore one. Some times I don't recognize myself... now instead of looking up local HRC's in a hotel phone book, I instead am Google mapping local bead stores on my Blackberry! That's right -- I have officially sunk to the level where I now put the main attractions of a big city on the back burner and replace it with first finding local bead shops! This past week I visited Baltimore and Chicago to see family, friends, and, well, Bead stores! I hit up only one in Baltimore, but 5 in Chicago, and will be Yelping about it soon. But in the meantime, here are some of my fabulous finds (totaling to about 10 lbs if you include the glass and the fork/spoon set!). Needless to say, I am going to have some fun this week! I'll of course keep you posted on what I make and how certain pictures I took in BMore and Chi-town correspond to my jewelry! :) Next, I hurried home to finish two of the three items due this month. First I made Elizabeth's earrings for her Body Building show to match her bikini. I like how they turned out. She told me today that she was so inspired that she ordered, for her next show, a plain swimsuit in addition to hundreds of Swarovski crystals that she is going to glue on herself! My kind of swimsuit! Next I finished Courtney's prom ring and bracelet. I braided three strands of beads and ended the bracelet with a brushed silver clasp. The ring was a bit harder, as I have never made one before! (pardon my ugly hand modeling!) Good thing Courtney wanted chunky, cause that's what she got! I used a really thin silver wire (32 gauge) which made the process more like hand stitching than wire wrapping. Next up will be pictures of these two events - both happening this weekend :) Lastly, we have a giveaway winner! Thanks to everyone who entered and left such beautiful feedback. I took it all to heart and have saved it for a rainy day. I numbered every entry and didn't use a hat method but instead used a computerized random number generator and it came up with the number 17, which belonged to REGINA! Congrats, gal! I liked this giveaway so much that I think I am going to do another one again soon! Well, I better get back to creating new things! More to follow soon!

May 13, 2009


I couldn't just keep the happiness of launching this blog to myself. I really value each of my readers and am grateful that you have taken the time to check out what Bead Up is UP to! So let's party with a GIVEAWAY of my best selling items!
The winner can choose which tag he or she prefers, available in Live; Love; Laugh; Dream; Hope; Believe.
Here is how it works: 1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite item from Bead Up’s Etsy shop. 2. If you post about this contest on your blog or twitter you will get an additional entry. You must leave a second comment with the link to your blog saying that you did! 3. You do not need to have a blog to enter, just a valid email address and a willingness to give me your mailing address so I can ship you the necklace! 4. All entries must be in by Monday, May 25th at midnight. I will announce the winner (by pulling a name out of a hat, literally!) on Tuesday, May 26th! So tell me again why you haven't entered yet? Get movin!

May 8, 2009

Tis the season!

I LOVE the month of MAY. I love it because it has always been a month of beginnings and ends -- end of spring, end of school, end of non-baseball season, etc. It may also mean the end of my sanity this month, as we have my parents coming to visit for a month in a few weeks and also a trip to Baltimore to see my brother and then Chicago to visit the husband's brother. May is also the beginning of wedding season! I LOVE WEDDINGS and especially love making jewelry for them :) I am currently working on a wedding necklace for one of my own bridesmaid's, Kelly. Though her dress is still TBA, her bridesmaids will be wearing this "cornflower blue" dress. I am thinking of making the bridesmaids some Swarovski crystal necklaces in that blue, and also add some pearls since Kelly is also using a white color in her theme. I hope to use illusion cord and beading glue to have the crystals look like they are floating on the ladies' necks. I did a similar technique for my own wedding bracelet, but didn't like how the crimp beads got in the way of the simplicity I had hoped to attain. I think I am going to start with these crystal and pearl materials and see what happens. I also plan to make Kelly a similar, yet distinct, necklace to go with her own dress. I think I might wire wrap 3 layers of pearls and crystals (maybe in the blue or another kind depending on her dress) and made a layered, yet dainty, necklace for her. Or maybe go with this sketch I drew - hand wrapping a few dozen pearls to make a 35" lanyard to have her wrap around her neck and tie softly in the front. She literally told me to go with it and do whatever I wanted, which is both liberating yet a bit nerve wracking! Thankfully Kelly is much more easy going than I am, so I have a feeling that she will like whatever I make, even if I don't like it! Meanwhile, a gal from my church is going to her senior prom and has asked me to make her a "simple yet classy and bold" bracelet and "funky chunky" ring to match her Nordstrom's dress. To be honest, I have never made a ring before. Instead of buying a ring itself, I ordered some 16 gauge wire in hopes of making my own ring and then adding some crystals on top. Courtney and I talked though what kind of materials she liked and what would go with her dress. Though details on the halter (which warrant staying away from wearing a necklace) are clear beads, Courtney wanted to accessorize with mostly blacks and reds. Together we decided on a bunch of funky and random cuts of Swarovski crystals and seed beads. I plan to make a 2-3 string bracelet, wrapping the crystals in randomly in between some black roundelle and gray/white seed beads. I will also wrap a random number of these beads around the ring and hope it comes out the way I am picturing it! (I bought all the beads from And to add to the fun, my maid of honor is appearing in a body building show in a few weeks and asked me to make her a set of earrings to wear during the bikini portion of the competition. She is wearing this bathing suit from Victoria's Secret, which features brown shell details and a turquoise bottom (I don't know how to tactfully "zoom in" on the detail work considering its location, as just posting the image makes me feel like I support playboy or something!). She agreed to let me make her jewelry with the following supplies, mocha and copper crystals along with reconstructed turquoise beads: Apparently I love crystals as much as I love the month of May! But I think they are appropriate for these three project as they demand attention and shine in the spotlight ;) More pictures to follow, of course! What do you think? How would you approach these projects?

Buddhism + Christianity = art

I studied Chinese in college and graduate school, and lived in China for a few summers before moving to Los Angeles. I am especially fascinated with the Chinese language (I studied Mandarin for 4 years in college and can still hold my own when bargaining on the streets in Chinese in San Francisco or China itself!), Chinese art, and Chinese religions, especially Buddhism. That said, I dig how Buddhists use their art as both a means of meditation and a teaching tool (ie mantra). I have tried to think of my own craft (jewelry, scrapbooking, photography, etc,) in similar terms, though in my case using the medium to both meditate on the beauty that is at our fingertips and also to praise God. While taking an art class in graduate school on the topic "visual preaching," I had to do a project on incorporating a scripture verse into a piece of art. I decided to use my Chinese painting tools to tackle the verse "Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts" (Colossians 3:15). I thought about how Buddhist monks paint a simple circle as a way of representing meditation and the circle of life and reincarnation (called zen circles). In my case, the circle would represent Christ, who, to get theological, "is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). But using a painted black circle alone wouldn't be enough, I needed to add some red (making my favorite color scheme complete!), preferably in the traditional Chinese signature form. So I put the Chinese character for peace (pronounced "ping") in the bottom right hand corner and in red to represent the heart (at least in my mind!). The scripture, and my new little piece of Chinese art, was complete. I later made several t-shirts with the Chinese translation of the verse written on the back and gave them to friends who liked the image. I also framed it and put it up in my living room (against my red, red wall with my other black and white frames and images). I was looking at the image a few weeks ago and thought to myself, "Hmmm, that looks like a bracelet." Well, here they are, the painting and the bracelet. I dig it:

May 6, 2009

Comissioned, custom wedding bracelet

My friend Roni and I both spend our days working desk jobs, so naturally we chat it up on Facebook chat when we get the chance. A few months ago she asked me to make a bracelet for her to wear in her wedding. Not only was I thrilled, but equally excited about the artistic freedom Roni allowed me in the process. First Roni sent me a picture of her wedding dress and informed me that it had Swarovski crystals in the detail work. Furthermore, her bridesmaids were going to wear Tiffany Blue dresses with white orchids as the main flower. Roni next sent me a picture of a necklace her fiance gave her which she hoped could match with the bracelet. I'll admit, I at first didn't know where to go with this necklace. But then I found these Sterling Silver Swarovski Crystal Navettes at Auntie Beads: When Roni said "YES, please!," I next copied and pasted the image on the old-school "PAINT" PC program to give Roni an idea of what it could look like with her wedding colors, Tiffany blue and cream: Roni loved it. So I ordered the supplies (in addition to some 5mm freshwater pearls and 2mm Swarovski crystal bicones in Aqua blue) and went to work, sending her this picture of my first draft of the components: After throwing around some additional ideas, Roni and I had decided on a final design, and I sent her pictures of my progress along the way to make sure we were on the same page: Roni was thrilled, so I went to work, using sterling silver beading wire, sterling silver crimp beads, and a beautiful antique sterling silver round filigree clasp to top it off. I was so thrilled with the result, I had my friend Alison model it for me: I had a fun time dressing the bracelet up in a super nice box and ribbon - you know I sent this one insured! Now all that is left is Roni's wedding - pictures to come!

May 5, 2009

Inspiration that's all around you.

I grew up in a small Ohio city. To be frank, I never cared for the rural, farm-like, grey town. Though I always knew I wanted to get away from the Midwest, never in my life did I imagine that I would be living in California. Not only that, but I never really realized the vastness of natural beauty until I moved to California. It’s easy to find inspiration here. When I lived in San Francisco my dorm overlooked the Golden Gate bridge and the San Francisco sky-line. Now, living in Los Angeles, I drive through mountains and cities on a daily basis and am confronted with cultural and geographical differences everywhere I look. When traveling in other countries, my camera never stops taking pictures of what I see as exotic and majestic, fascinated that the natives find it all commonplace.

After seeing such inspiring places, I wasn’t looking forward to going back to Ohio or Kentucky, my alma matter, for the first time after leaving. But instead of seeing the gray, boring landscape of my childhood, my eyes suddenly had a new appreciate for an equivalent, albeit different, beauty of what I always saw as normal.

Here are some examples of photos I have taken of the beauty I have found in both the “gray” and also the glamorous, and how I have transformed their inspirations into jewelry:

Berkeley, CA

Purple Haze Necklace


San Francisco, CA

Asymetrical Purple Beaded Gemstone Necklace


Chengde, China

Zhong Necklace


Lexington, KY

Dew Drop Rose Quartz and Amethyst Earrings


Berkeley, CA

Black Eye Glasses Lanyard


Countryside of China

Mosaic Teardrop Stone and Beaded Earrings


Los Angeles, CA

Red and Black Crystal Illusion Necklace


New York City, NY

Golden Greek Goddess Necklace


Suzhou, China

Green with Envy Cluster Bracelet

It doesn’t matter where we are or what resources we do or do not have around us. What matters, and what makes a difference, is the lenses of the eyes of which we look at the world around us.

Where do you find your inspiration? Look around! It’s everywhere!

Thanks for reading,

~Christyn of