June 20, 2012

Long time, no blog

Though the Bead Up shop is still alive and well, the Bead Up blog has been put on the back burner. Sad, as I have really enjoyed the community and outlet that this blog has provided, but I am happy for the reason behind the vacancy: I am pregnant :) We are so stinkin' thrilled and have been cherishing every moment. That said, though Bead Up is still filling orders and making custom pieces, I have switched my "journaling" focus from this blog to my pregnancy journal (and working a very full time job). I am sure I will be back soon enough, but in the meantime, I miss you all and this venue of creativity and keeping my favorites updates about my jewelry journey. 

That said, I leave you with a parting gift in the meanwhile: GIVEAWAY! One of my bloggin' friends from LA is hosting a Bead Up product giveaway - take a moment to enter to win this fun necklace. Thanks again, Linny! 

Thanks so much for your understanding in my absence. You are loved and missed! 

November 8, 2011

Commissioned work with new materials

I heart figuring out a new jewelry method by mistake or chance encounter. Actually, no - fewer things make me happier than when people ask me to make custom jewelry to celebrate a loved one. Wait - no, I am happiest when I have returning customers asking for more. Scratch that - I am happiest when a returning customer asks me to make jewelry for their loved one and I learn a new technique in the making!
Recently, my friend Nilsa's husband Sweets contacted me with a simple request: leather. Apparently this is the traditional third wedding anniversary gift and Sweets wanted to go traditional and romantic, yet stick within his wife's tastes and aesthetic, which he knew I knew. I was up-front with him: as a vegetarian, I will admit that I have never really worked with leather before. Oh, and did I mention that the necklace was needed in less than 4 days? :) He asked me to go for it and see what happens. 
After doing some "research" (i.e. browsing around the internet for inspiration) I had an idea of the type of necklace I wanted to do (i.e. no hammering or welding required - heck, I prefer to stay away from glue, too) though knew that leather string is thicker than your average beading wire and would thus require beads with very large holes. The only beads I had on hand with large-ish holes happened to be some beautiful gemstones and crystals I purchased from Arizona and LA. So, after some playing around, we had this:

The little white beads are especially cool... my mom purchased them for me from a Native American craft vendor in South Dakota. Apparently they are hand-cut glass beads that are over 100-years old. When she gave them to me, I thought to myself, "Where the heck am I going to use these?" It makes sense that I used them with leather! I also avoided having to use glue thanks to some gold crimp beads. 

But then came the real challenge - closure. How dost one secure leather strings with a clasp? After tying the strands in two large knots, I played with all kinds of methods of getting a clasp on there. I even gave in and used glue to make sure that the leather wasn't going anywhere. Then it dawned on me - duh - free-style wire. Thanks to that pesky glue, I know this closure is there to stay.
Nilsa was tickled when she received the necklace: "You are so sneaky! I cannot believe you worked with Sweets to make such a GORGEOUS necklace for me! I absolutely love it and hope that your first go with leather wasn't too painful. =) We went to a concert last night and I picked an outfit that ensured I could wear the necklace. LOVE IT!!! Thank you so much for turning it around so quickly!" See, this is why I love working with returning customers who want to make something for their loved one while I learn a new method in the process...

Meanwhile, I was sitting on another piece that was quite overdue. At one of my shows, a client noticed that I had a porcelain Chinese bracelet on display. She bought it, then handed it back to me: "I would like a necklace to match a pair of earrings that I own which feature the same beads." Her earrings seemed simple:
But then I realized - though I have wrapped beads before, I have not necessarily wrapped rounded beads, let alone such smooth and glossy beads! I sat down at my work table and just stared at my material: a bracelet that I made which I will have to cut apart, and some wire. I played and played with the beads and wire with no luck - that wire was movin' everywhere and would not stay in one place. Then I noticed a Sharpie marker nearby and LIGHTBULB! I first wrapped the wire about the Sharpie to create a coil, then popped the bead inside the coil to get it to stay in place - rather than trying to make the coil around the bead itself. After some working, I finally had this: 
Not quite what I had envisioned, but it worked and resembled the inspiration earrings. Now that I know how to work it, I think I will play with this method more often! 

What are some new materials that you have worked with and ended up loving?

October 10, 2011

(Metalless) Bling for a Wedding Fling

Few things ignite my creative urge more than being asked to help a bride create some memorable wedding jewelry for her bridesmaids. Crystals, pearls, rhinestones, and shimmer are standard for most lineups. My pal Cheryl of Cupcakinitup' asked Bead Up to custom create some necklaces for her bridesmaids which focused on the plunge neckline of their pink dresses and incorporated black and silver. One little glitch, though - one had to be metal free! At first I thought nothing of this... but then the more and more I thought of how to indeed incorporate crystals and findings and clasps and closures, all of which are often metal based, the more I realized how much I rely on metal in my creations - from as large as metal beads to metal string to metal clasps to even metal crimp beads. 

Though Cheryl said that I could make the metal-less in a whole separate style, I wanted to take the challenge to make something that looked like crystals and glitz and glam, but that all the women could wear. After tearing apart some plastic-based jewelry I found at a local accessory store and investing in some silk string, we had this (the metal version):

Bet-cha can't tell which one is metal and which is metal-free? :) 

Thanks for letting me glitz-up your gals, Cheryl!

October 8, 2011

Long time no blog!

I always thought it suspicious when bloggers disappeared from their online life with no indication as to why. Did they die? Did something horrible happen to them? Were they mugged and their laptop taken? Or, most likely, did the aliens win?

I am sad to admit that I have been that kind of blogger over the past year. I won't make up excuses because I know I have been spending my time well and fully, though sadly at the expense of my jewelry business :( Over the past year, we moved from Los Angeles to Kansas City, I enrolled in a hospital residency program, we bought a house, adopted another dog, and on and on and on. Just as the past year has been busy with a ton of random things, I too have managed to get myself fully involved in a tom of random projects - all of which has compromised Bead Up's time yet have led to another super fun hobby/business. That's right, I've picked up another craft... Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you... Batter Up:

Yup, watching Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes has left me thinking, "Hey, I bet I could make something fun and delicious, too!" So I took it upon myself to learn. After making a big ole' raspberry lemonade cake rolled in fondant and polka dots, I took it into work to get rid of it. Instead of coming home with just an empty cake platter, I came home with orders from people who wanted more! Though I never had the intention of selling my experiments, I have had a blast being ::paid:: essentially to get to know my cake making tools and techniques. It's a win-win! 

After a lot of thinking, I have decided to expand Bead Up to include it's sister project, Batter Up! Bead Up, Batter Up, and a link to this blog can be found at my newest website, christynk.com

As soon as I fully move into my new craft room and unpack a bunch of new Bead Up supplies I picked up while in LA a few weeks ago, Bead Up will be back in the swing of things! Stay tuned, and thanks for staying loyal!

February 13, 2011

Maternity Jewelry

A few months ago I blogged about a custom, commissioned necklace I made for my dear friend Nilsa. Nilsa asked for a funky, bold statement necklace to coordinate with the orange, teal, and lime colors of her nursery:

After discussing our options, we came up with this: 

Nilsa not only wore the necklace to her maternity shots, she also wore a "vintage" Bead Up lime green cluster bracelet (one of my first creations - you can read about it's anatomy here!):

So, what am I waiting for? Here are the best of the best!

Thanks for including Bead Up in your very special photo session, friend! 

Oh, and be on the lookout within the next few weeks for a very special Blog update! Craft on!

February 7, 2011

Lots of Love :: SALE!

Valentine's Day is near, which means one thing -- buying jewelry for the one you love! Let Bead Up help you! Enter "2142011" upon checkout for an 14% everything in the shop!

Here are a few hints, gentlemen ;) Click on any image for a link to the corresponding Etsy listing...


February 1, 2011

Winter Weddings!

There is nothing cold about winter weddings when their brides ask for Bead Up jewelry! 
First up, my high-school classmate, Liz, a veterinarian living in Georgia. Liz has a heart for all things animals and was planning a winter wedding. She first ordered a Birds Nest necklace for herself to wear for her engagement photo session!
Liz reported that the necklace received so many compliments from her friends that she decided to custom order them for all the gals included in her wedding (including a lime green egg)! 

Not only that, but she also commissioned Bead Up to create her wedding jewelry! The instructions were simple: a necklace and bracelet set for herself and necklaces for her bridesmaids in gold, champagne, and taupe colors to match her champagne-colored dress. Working together, we agreed on pearls and crystals on gold wire for both the bride and her maids. After ordering the supplies, we finally had these (I especially love the filigree clasps!):
(click on the photo for a better close up)
And not only that, but Liz's mom wanted some jewelry for herself, too! She commissioned me to make a broach, which I admittedly had never done before, but since I am always up for a good challenge, I tried it out and made this set (a sewn combination of Swarovski crystals under taupe-colored pearls with matching earrings on brass findings):

Put it all together and you have one lovely bride and M-ot-B
(with her broach worn on her collarbone)!

Liz was kind enough to share some of the professional shots from the big day:

Thanks again for being such a great customer, Liz!

Second winter wedding belonged to my sorority sister, Alwynn. This crazy lady and I have many stories from our college days which, well, let's just say that they are confidential ;) Alwynn was planning a January wedding in blues and silver and wanted some bridesmaids jewelry to match. She literally said: "Christyn, just go for it. I trust your judgment." Sweet! Her invitation was beautiful and a great source of inspiration:

Hoping to incorporate the swirls, navy and light blue, creamy white and silver, I used Swarovski, gemstones, and pearls to come up with these:
 (top bracelet is a little something something I threw in for the bride herself!)

Each bracelet and earring set were unique, and of course finished with a little heart clasp. Photos from Alwynn's big day to follow!

Congrats again, Liz and Alwynn :)

January 11, 2011

Weddings: Fall, Y'all!

Though Bead Up has been MIA on the blog scene, she's been making up for it by being equally and steadily busy making custom creations! (And I do apologize for being blog MIA - it's not you, it's me)! I hope to fill you in little by little with recaps of some custom pieces and wedding ensembles -- here's the first of hopefully many!
You know how in Project Runway the contestants are often given a client-based challenge, but afterwards chastised for not incorporating enough of their own "voice" into the final design? I will admit, this is often the case when I create wedding jewelry - I do what the bride asks and often tone down the Bead Up flair so as to keep it wedding respectable. 
But when my dear friend and sorority sister Regan asked that I not only make her wedding jewelry, but also consulted for my Bead Up design itself, I knew this would be a different kind of wedding job :) Regan started with the basics: she planned to wear a white wedding dress but wanted to accessorize with dark greys and charcoals with a bracelet, earrings, and a broach. After a few more series of questions, we agreed that making a dangly charm-crystal bracelet of sorts would be great, but an exaggerated one would be even better! Though as for the broach - she was leading that all up to me! Lastly, she asked for some matching dangle earrings - but not dainty bridal... funky bridal! LOVE IT. So, after showing Regan some hues of crystals and findings, we agreed on these: 
I have never purchased so many crystals for one piece of jewelry in my life! You can also see the materials I bought for the broach at the 3 o'clock of the photo. I am not going to lie - I had never made a broach before, but I love a good challenge. So I finally found a random pin holder thing, and along with some unique oversized Swarovski crystals and floral wire, I twisted and tied up this:
 And when I applied the base to the form, we had this:

Next was making the charm dangle bracelet. I wire wrapped over 200 Swarovski crystals and, one-by-one, bound them to a gun-metal chain. I loved how the crystals reflected the sunlight!  

After 200 rounds of measuring, clipping, wire wrapping, applying, and arranging, we had this bracelet!

 I sent Regan a photo of the earrings as seen above, though we both agreed that they needed a little "umph!" So...!

Regan's was the first wedding I was able to physically attend this year (that whole moving across the country thing got in the way of traveling across the country again)... and best of all - she got married in the exact same Garden Court where my hubs and I married nearly three years ago! It was a great "homecoming!" As for the jewelry, the trio was the perfect finishing touch to the already perfectly beautiful bride!

She and Matt looked so chic and modernly romantic!

And though I had a hard time initially conceptualizing the dark grey accents to this wedding outfit... 
That not only did it match the men's color pallet...
But it even matched Regan's shoes! PERFECT combo!

Oh, and let's not forget the Bridesmaids (and many of my other sorority sisters)!
...which were a combination of some gold leaf charms from LA's jewelry district and small orange crystals (which included a clip-on version, too!). 
...which, I must say, went very well with the orange fall leaf theme. Who would have known it would have gone so well with the dark grey?  

And when I wasn't helping with the jewelry at the wedding, I was busy taking photos of the guests at the photo booth! Regan's wedding was so well planned and Bead Up is still thrilled to have been a part of it. Thank you for including me, Matt and Regan - you are loved!