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Treefrog Beads is live!!

Bead embroidery over hand felted wool by Andrea Adams

I realized this morning that I made this announcement on my Facebook fan page, but I did not cross post the information here: My vintage bead and cameo website is live!! As I mentioned in this post, the vintage cameo site has been in the works for quite some time, and it feels so good to finally have it open to the public (thank you again, Julia!). I still have many more products to add (tons of vintage and antique seed beads, as well as more cabs, Swarovski and old nailheads & sew-on’s) but for the sake of my sanity, those products will be added slowly over time. Even with so much to add, there’s a lot of great stuff there, so go have a look around – you’re sure to find something to tempt your inner magpie! And while you’re there, please check out the customer gallery. I am blessed with some amazingly talented friends and customers, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy their incredible artwork.

Next up? My original site, Beadmask is getting a complete overhaul. Now that the vintage jewelry supplies have their own site, I can turn the Beadmask site into a portfolio of the things that I make. At the moment, it just has a few items and it funnels you to my Etsy shop, but that’s just a stopgap while I work on the new and improved version. Hopefully, I can complete that before the New Year — wish me (good) luck!

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A light at the end of the tunnel

Gypsy Fortune Teller Pin by Mary Tafoya

Now that my mask making mayhem has quieted down a bit, I’ve been able to turn my attention back to completing the vintage bead & cameo site. Building this site has been a labor of love on so many levels. First and foremost, I really hate coding. I’m not a dumb girl by any stretch of the imagination, but HTML, CSS, java and the like just make my eyes glaze over. Add to that a litany of computer woes that has been almost laughable — at least, if you have a very dark sense of humor. And let’s not forget the sheer minutiae of researching, photographing, editing and describing  thousands upon thousands of itsy bitsy beads; plus the agony of having all of that data lost in a computer crash shortly before I was ready to launch. I’ll stop before this rant reaches the point of no return, and simply say that it’s been a long road. A very long, dark road…

Beaded Vessel by Julia S. Pretl

The past three weeks have found me alternately re-counting every bead, cabochon and rhinestone that I carry — or holed up at the keyboard, with my eyes glazed over and a litany of expletives frothing from my lips. During this time I have avoided friends and family, not only because I can’t afford to get distracted, but because I’m just not fit for human consumption when I do this type of work. I expected today to be more of the same, but guess what? I had a paradigm shift! As I worked on the site I was reminded (yet again) of how grateful I am to my talented, beautiful and inspiring friend Julia Pretl, who designed my adorable new bead site. Yes, I am gushing and no, it is not over the top. As painful as this process has been, my agony would have been tenfold if it weren’t for her help. So a million thank you’s, Miz Julia. I appreciate you more than I can say.

Vintage Style Filigree Bracelet from A Mon Seul Desir

Also, I was able to complete the preliminary work of loading and coding all of the product, and move on to something surprisingly fun: building the customer gallery! The images scattered throughout this post reflect the work of a few of my fabulous clients and beady friends (simply click on the captions to visit their sites). As I looked through these images, I was reminded of the creative and inspiring people that I’m able to connect with in the course of my work. It may sound silly, but beads have brought many beautiful friendships into my life. Somewhere in the midst of my CSS induced psychopathy, I realized how very grateful I am to do what I love for a living … yes, even if it means that sometimes, I have to write code. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel. The site is (knock on wood!) almost ready, and I’m feeling particularly grateful for my amazing friends, talented customers, and good fortune.

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Little boxes, on a hillside…

The final assignment for my writing class was to do a book review. I opted to review a beading book – a choice that was strongly influenced by the fact that I haven’t had very much time to play with my beads since school began, and I’m really starting to miss them!

Despite my interest (ok, obsession) with beads and beadwork, I don’t own very many bead books. I think that’s because most of the beading books I’ve seen are pattern oriented, and I typically work freeform or design my own patterns. Because of this, most “how to” bead books hold little appeal for me. One exception to this is Little Boxes by Julia S. Pretl, which is one of my all time favorite beading books.

I’ll admit that I am probably somewhat biased, because the author is my friend (full disclosure here, people!). I’ve had the pleasure of watching her go from a nervous first time author, publishing – and printing, and binding – out of her basement, to a full time/professional author and illustrator with several successful books under her belt. However, I would love this book even if I didn’t love Julia. Here’s why:

Julia S. Pretl published her first book, “Little Boxes” in 2002. The book showcases her original methods for creating beaded boxes using variations of “peyote stitch”, a traditional bead weaving technique which utilizes only beads, needle and thread. She features a variety of projects for three dimensional vessels, ranging from simple squares and triangles to more advanced polygonal shapes. The detailed directions include excellent diagrams, pattern graphs and beautiful color photos to guide crafters of all skill levels through the process of creating these adorable boxes.

One of the most notable aspects of this book is the high quality diagrams. I have often fumbled to understand clumsy illustrations that don’t convey where the needle goes or how the project should look during construction. Thankfully, Pretl’s ample diagrams are distinct and easy to read. The large 3-D images provide optimal clarity, the bead rows are well marked to help you keep your place as you follow along, and the thread path is always visible. It is no wonder that the author has been commissioned to illustrate so many popular beading books since writing this one!

The written instructions are equally clear. While the methods used are somewhat advanced, and working knowledge of peyote stitch is advised, the directions are so precise that a beginner could follow them. The intricate projects are broken down into simple steps, with the text placed adjacent to the corresponding diagram. This easy reference makes these techniques very comprehensive, despite their complexity.

Following these thorough instructions are a series of color graphs which will enable readers to duplicate the color schemes shown in the samples. For those who prefer to design their own patterns, there are blank graphs for each box shape. This is yet another example of how the author makes this book interesting and accessible to beginners and advanced bead workers alike.

If you bought the first edition of the book, you may be disappointed by the lack of color photos. In fact, the only photos included in the original printing are the samples on the cover. This is understandable, given that the first edition books were published, printed and bound by the author. Still, it was a sad omission as Julia Pretl is an award winning bead artist, and her work is exceptionally beautiful. Fortunately, this book was republished by Creative Publishing in 2006 under the title “Little Bead Boxes”. The second edition includes additional box designs, updated techniques and gorgeous color photos for each project.

This classic book has taught bead enthusiasts around the world how to create these adorable little boxes. It has also served as a springboard for some of the more advanced geometric bead designs taught by nationally known designers. Whether you consider yourself an amateur or professional beader, it is a must-have for your collection! It is competitively priced at $21.95, and is available at most major book retailers or at the author’s website.