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  • Create a Beading Library

    A friend came to me in search of beading inspiration the other day, and I found all kinds of ideas for her right on the Leisure Arts website. Are you a beader or a least a beader wanna be? Whether you're a novice beader who needs all the info to get started beading or an experienced beading diva who just needs to brush up on the basics or find inspiration, I've got some suggestions about the beading instruction and project books you need in your craft library.

    I Can't Believe I'm Beading (It’s on sale!)
    Let your creativity sparkle with simple, distinctive beaded jewelry. From a whimsical dragonfly pin to a striking chocker and trendy hair sticks, these 29 one-of-a-kind projects are sure to have you murmuring, "I can't believe I'm beading" in no time.

    A Beginner's Guide to Beading
    If you're new to beading, this book is especially for you. Clear directions and color photography on the use of findings and beads will give you inspiration galore and the knowledge you need to enter the world of creative beading. Easy beading instructions for necklaces, bracelets, earrings, watches, and more are at your fingertips with this book.

    Gooseberry Patch Fun-to-Fashion Jewelry
    With Gooseberry Patch Fun-to-Fashion Jewelry, you can create oh-so-pretty hair accessories, bejeweled brooches and button bracelets with new-again charm. If you love the look of classic designs worn in new ways, this collection of creative accessories is meant for you! Why not renew sweet memories of the past by fashioning a favorite necklace into earrings for family and friends? Discover how you can reuse precious items from your grandmother's sewing basket or jewelry box. Even worn-out linens get a new lease on life when you use the good sections to make necklaces. From tote bag fobs to ribbon bookmarks, these fresh ideas will inspire your creativity and gift-giving with timeless style! Also available as a downloadable eBook!

    Beading Workshop eBook
    Welcome to the do-it-yourself beading instruction book that dares to be different. Whether you're a beginner, ready to learn the basics, or an experienced beader, you'll find everything you need to know right here and 102 designs to spark your creativity. Go far beyond the ordinary and immerse yourself in the fascinating world of making beaded jewelry!
    • The Beading Basics section includes a wealth of information on beads and findings.
    • And of course, you'll want to discover the Techniques at Work that make those 102 designs so fresh and original.
    • Finally, every creative adventure must start with Inspiration, so this book features an extensive showcase of design ideas. Necklaces, bracelets, rings, pins, key fobs -- you'll find a wide array of sparkling concepts!

    The Passionate Beader's Guide
    Produced by the editors of BeadUnique magazine, this is the essential "teach-yourself" beading book. Editor Pamela Hawkins says it is "the result of our passion for all things beads, our desire to provide fun and inspiring projects to fit every aspect of your life, and our wish to educate you about the essential tools and techniques that will help build the backbone of your beading skills." Beginners or experienced beaders can choose from more than 35 fresh and fun projects -- from trendy jewelry and fashion accessories to bead art and beaded home decor. Each project has easy-to-follow, step-by-step beading instructions. There also are techniques and tips that will help you create quality projects you'll show off with pride.

    With this selection of beading instructions and projects to choose from, you'll have no excuse for being intimidated by the bead aisle no matter your skill level. Get inspired, get supplied, and get busy beading!
  • Cool Stuff Crafts for Kids

    I’m thinking crafts for kids! Do you have kids at home this summer? Kids with nothing to do? I thought I was done with that phase until my oldest daughter whined those dreaded words last night, “Mother, I’m bored.” After I made her wash dishes, I introduced her to the Leisure Arts Cool Stuff crafts for kids how-to books.

    Learn to knit…

    Cool Stuff Teach Me to Knit
    Here’s a great guide made just for kids, ages 9 to 14. From creating a cool-looking knit cap and scarf to wraps and pillows, kids will have fun making gifts for their friends, their family - even their pets! Complete with 12 easy lessons and projects. (Also available as an eBook!)

    Discover quilting…

    Cool Stuff Teach Me To Quilt
    This is the perfect guide for teaching kids the awesome art of quilting. Learn felt appliqué, mock binding, hand quilting, machine piecing, designing a quilt using a paper layout, tying a quilt, and more. Leaflet features 7 designs for kids 8-14 in mind. (Also available as an eBook!)

    Try crochet…

    Cool Stuff Teach Me to Crochet
    Bright colors, fun photography, and step-by-step instructions help children ages 9 to 14 learn to crochet. Kids will learn the basic crochet stitches while making hair scrunchies, a key chain, a CD holder, a round pillow, and much more! (Also available as an eBook!)

    And some of my favorite crafts for kids...

    Cool Stuff Tie-Dyed Shirts
    Kids will love creating their own tie-dyed attire. With this easy-to-follow guide, they’ll learn alternative methods to the traditional craft. Complete instructions, with photography, include 12 shirts using different pattern combinations and colors. (It’s on SALE!)

    Cool Stuff Friendship Bracelets
    Our 48 fabulous friendship bracelets are so hot—they’re cool! Just follow the simple steps to knot colorful embroidery floss. The many choices of styles, colors, beads, and charms will make each bracelet one-of-a-kind! Fun to wear & great to share! (Also available as an eBook!)

    Cool Stuff: Knot This!
    Knot This! Twist up a new look that nobody else has. You can totally do it in a flash with these knotty fashions! Tie, weave, and braid embroidery floss or pearl cotton to make bracelets, necklaces, anklets, and hair wraps. There are even some belts that double as necklaces! You’ll find how-tos for the knots in the front half of the book and lots of ideas for combining knots in the back half. Add beads, bells, buttons, or bangles for extra bling. 49 fashions to braid, bead, and tie on. (It’s on SALE!)

    Never underestimate the power of crafts for kids when it comes to getting the party started. The next thing I knew, the youngest daughter showed up, and they teamed up to make friendship bracelets from my embroidery floss stash and their daddy’s discarded guitar strings. Cool stuff!

  • Flowers Without Sweating

    Yesterday was the first day of summer, so I had to go out in my yard and celebrate the season a little bit by sweating a lot and checking on the progress of my blooming plants.

    Here’s what’s blooming in my Arkansas yard—

    Shamrocks (I’m so proud of my daughter. She kept this plant alive in her room all winter long!)



    And a stray, but absolutely perfect, little wildflower…

    After returning to the air conditioning…I contemplated my options for adding some florals indoors and started pulling out the pattern books and browsing through my eBook collection!

    Loving the flower-bedecked beauties in Elizabeth Angus’ Just Add Flowers quilt pattern book! (Also available in eBook!)

    With this Crocheted Flowers For Every Wear pattern book from Kooler Design Studio, I could have flowers from head to toe! (Also available in eBook!)

    How cool would it be to create flowers from duct tape? You can with Patti Wallenfang’s Just Duct Tape It! craft pattern book! (Also available in eBook!)

    Or I could Stitch a Beaded Garden with the 18 nostalgic designs in this pattern book by Sharon Maxwell Kendall Perry! (Also available in eBook!)

    And I discovered that I don’t have to sweat to enjoy watching the flowers bloom! I can just reach for my trusty pattern book or eBook, and I’m ready for anything!

  • Free Guitar Pick Earrings Tutorial

    My eldest daughter came home the other day and asked me if I could make her a pair of guitar pick earrings. Having never contemplated the idea before, I had to think about it a minute, but then I shrugged and figured, well, why not! So I dug into my beading supply box, filched a couple of guitar picks from The-Love-Of-My-Life, and here’s the design I came up with:

    Guitar Pick Earrings

    four small jump rings
    two leverback earrings
    small hole punch
    2 guitar picks (medium weight)
    two medium jump rings
    six 6mm round washer beads
    four large jump rings
    two 3/0 beads

    Instructions For Each Earring:

    (I used two pairs of pliers to open and close jump rings.)

    1. Attach small jump ring to earring.

    2. Punch a hole in the guitar pick.

    3. Attach medium jump ring to guitar pick and to small jump ring on earring.

    4. Place three round washer beads on a large jump ring. Attach a small jump ring to the large jump ring and to the medium jump ring in the guitar pick.

    5. Place one 3/0 bead on a large jump ring. Attach large jump ring to the medium jump ring in the guitar pick.

    I think my guitar pick earrings turned out pretty cool…They took no time to make, and the Daughter is pleased. Who’d have thought…guitar pick earrings? Hope you enjoy my simple tutorial!

    If you’d like to learn more about making your own jewelry, check out some of my favorite guidebooks: The Passionate Beader’s Guide, Beading Workshop, and Stunning Jewelry Made Easy!

    Happy Saturday to all!

  • 10 Bead Stringing Techniques

    I bought a string of pearls at an auction the other day. Don’t know if they’re real or not, but they do need to be restrung (is that a word?) before I can wear them without worrying about the string breaking, so I’ve been researching bead stringing techniques:

    1. Use the largest size stringing material that fits inside the hole of the smallest bead in your project. The added strength will help retard wear and fraying.

    2. Leave a little space between the beads in your design for less wear on your stringing material.

    3. Give the beads you’re working with a critical once over before you begin stringing to check for rough edges that might cause your stringing material to wear or fray.

    4. Try leaving the string attached to the spool when stringing your beads for a quick bracelet (or when you’re working on a design while riding in the car). You won’t have to worry about your beads falling off the unsecured end.

    5. For a simple bead stopper to put on the end of your string while you slide on the beads, just wrap the end with tape or tape that end to your work surface.

    6. Having a little trouble getting the string through a bead? Try a bead reamer to enlarge, straighten, or complete the hole in the bead.

    7. Nobody likes it when the string breaks and beads go rolling in every direction. Use the best stringing material you can for your project. Never use fishing line, dental floss, or plain sewing thread if you want to create a professional looking design that wears well.

    8. Needle threading woes? Color the tip of your thread with a permanent marker. Let it dry and thread your needle. The ink stiffens your thread and helps it slide through the eye of the needle.

    9. When cutting your stringing wire, observe the proper safety measures. Point your pliers away and down from you. For extra security, wear safety glasses. It is important to protect yourself from bits of wire that might be flying around.

    10. Need some bead stringing inspiration to get you started? Make yourself some “bead soup.” That’s just a collection of leftover beads from previous projects all mixed together. Take out a handful, team the beads up with your favorite stringing material, and challenge yourself to create something wonderful.

    Bonus Tip: The best thing a beginning beader can do is invest in a good how-to or guide book. Try The Passionate Beader’s Guide from the editors of BeadUnique magazine!

    Hope these bead stringing techniques help you achieve the beaded designs you’re dreaming of!

  • Celebrate National Craft Month with Creativity!

    March is National Craft Month, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite crafty how-to pattern books to jump start your creativity!
    Just Duct Tape It! --"Wild" flowers featuring animal print petals. Bold bracelets, funky flip-flops, and hip purses. Who knew that duct tape could create such cool projects? American teens have embraced this hot trend and will go ga-ga for this creative guide to crafting with duct tape. More than 25 projects for gals and guys include wallets, jewelry, locker decor, flowers, and more.
    From Felt to Fabulous --Felt crafting is easy, inexpensive, and fun for the whole family--and you can make things that are as practical as they are pretty. How about a Coffee Cup Cozy or a Hair Clip Holder? There's also a cute iPod/MP3 Player Cozy, a Hunny Bunny, Tote Bag, Purse, Project Envelope, Needlebook, Greeting Card, Garlands, Hair Clips, Necklaces, Pins, Ornaments, Tags, and more. The patterns are interchangeable, and each can be enlarged or reduced to any size, whether it's for a necklace pendant, ornament, or stuffed toy. Once you get started with these 34 designs by Kimberly Layton, you'll probably think of dozens of additional ideas to create and share with family and friends!
    Stunning Jewelry Made Easy --Learn 24 different jewelry-making techniques as you create original bracelets, necklaces, and pendants from Svetlana Kunina! Half the projects are beginner-friendly, while the rest kick up the intensity, giving you even more ways to amaze yourself. Discover how to knot leather and fashion a custom toggle clasp. Create bead dangles by the dozens. Learn classic bead weaving patterns, such as Peyote Stitch and Square Stitch. And cast resin into a large, lightweight pendant. The photos take you right into the details, while clear instructions guide you to make sparkling necklaces, pendants, and bracelets. Whether elegantly simple or bold with texture, your original jewelry will thrill the designer in you!
    Chris H. Olsen's Five Seasons --Discover how easy and affordable it is to make your home unique and stylish all through the year! Nationally known home and garden designer Chris H. Olsen will inspire you to dream and create beautiful home décor, indoors and out, for the four seasons and that precious fifth season where all holidays reside. Sharing ideas developed for his own home, Chris demonstrates how to make small re-inventions that feature your most treasured items in different ways throughout the year. You'll love his impressive arrangements of plants and other accents at the entrance, in the living room, dining room, and bedroom, as well as out on the patio and lawn. His ideas are just the push you need to make your home a thrilling place to be in any season!
    Stitch A Beaded Garden --Sparkling beads bloom into flowers on these stunning samplers and mini motifs. The 18 nostalgic designs are the work of Sharon Maxwell Kendall Perry, a New Zealander with a fondness for flower gardens, samplers, and antique beadwork. Designs include Zinnia (square and rectangle), Carnation Band, Clematis, Star Daisy, Canterbury Bells, Bleeding Hearts, Alphabet Web, Sweet Pea, Pinks, Mallow, Peony, The Vineyard, Waterlily, Dahlia, Impatiens, Forget-Me-Not, and Galicia Rose. Cross stitch and backstitch alphabets are included for signing and dating the designs. Each project uses colorful seed beads and sometimes bugle beads. Substitution charts are provided so that the designs also may be cross stitched with embroidery floss.
    Whatever your creative passion, participate in National Craft Month! Get crafty!
  • Embellished Clothing!

    Hey All and Happy Sunday! I’ve been digging through stacks of books in my home office this morning, and I finally found the one I’ve been looking for! (Books need organizing!!!) Back during the holidays (while I was on vacation and away from my usual sources of info), a friend on Facebook asked about beading on clothing…At the time, I could picture the cover of the how-to book I wanted to recommend, I could visualize the fabulous projects inside, but I couldn’t come up with the name of that book to save my life…(Does that ever happen to you?)

    It took awhile for my brain to kick in…but I finally remembered, and I just found a copy! It’s called Fashionology, and all 17 of the projects in it were dreamed up by the talented ladies in the Leisure Arts Design Department! It was published in 2006, but I think the fashions and techniques are just as timely today!

    Are you ready to transform basic purchased clothing and accessories with easy embellishments (like beads, buttons, charms, embroidery, appliqué, and stamping) to create your own style? Well, here’s some inspiration from a few of the projects:

    Peach Crop

    Sidewalk Skimmers

    Aviary Vest

    Tea Room Tee

    Velveteen Hobo

    Tapioca Top

    Soho Scarf

    Salon Blouse

    Arcade Jeans

    Plume Skirt

    Composite Jacket

    What do you think? Are you inspired to dig in your bead box, open up that button jar, and/or thread an embroidery needle? If so, you may need your very own copy of Fashionology! I’m reaching for my rubber stamps…

  • Stitch A Beaded Garden

    Have you got a big New Year’s Eve planned? Not me! We’ll just be sitting around, watching old movies, eating, and trying to stay awake till anyway...

    Right now, I’m looking out my back door, dreaming of warmer temperatures, wishing my flowers were blooming, and leafing through pattern books with floral designs in them. How does your garden grow? Probably not so great right now thanks to the cold weather, so why not bring some florals indoors with Sharon Maxwell Kendall Perry’s new pattern book—Stitch a Beaded Garden?

    Featuring 18 designs charted for beading and cross stitch, Sharon’s designs offer up a delightfully different alternative to everyday cross stitch. Stitched over two threads on 28-count evenweave fabric, each project uses colorful seed beads to create floral samplers and mini motifs right from the garden! You’ll find such favorites as zinnias, carnations, clematis, bleeding hearts, sweet peas, pinks, mallow, peonies, waterlillies, and more...she even includes a simple backstitch alphabet for signing and dating your projects! Take a peek at a few of these pretty blooms! They’re sure to brighten up a cold winter’s décor!




    Star Daisy

    Bleeding Hearts




    The Vineyard


    Meet Sharon Maxwell Kendall Perry!
    Sharon Maxwell Kendall Perry is a New Zealander with a fondness for flower gardens, historic samplers, and antique beadwork. “When traveling overseas with my husband,” she says, “I was drawn to some of the old beadwork in the museums. It gave stitching another dimension and made it come alive in a quite different way. Gradually it dawned on me: All of these things could be combined—embroidery, beadwork, samplers, and gardens. Since then, I have spent many happy hours designing and stitching.”

    Hope each and every one of you has the happiest of New Years!

  • Stunning Jewelry Made Easy!

    I’m sort of a jewelry freak. I spend a lot of time lusting in the bead aisle of my favorite craft store—drooling over the colors, shapes, and sizes…dreaming up wild combos in my head…and then wandering off without buying because I can’t seem to make a commitment…I think I need a self-help book!

    And I think I may have found the perfect one—the new Stunning Jewelry Made Easy by Svetlana Kunina! It includes 24 techniques and 20 way cool designs, and it’s just perfect to jump start a novice beader like me since about half of the projects are beginner-friendly with step-by-step instructions, while the rest would appeal to a more experienced bead diva (which I someday dream of being).

    I also have to admit that I’m just besotted by the photography in this book! Wonderful blacks, whites, greys, textures, and unusual props! Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Take a peek at a few—

    Delicate Necklace with Locket

    Mosaic Pendant Necklace

    Red, Black, & Pearl Bracelet

    Fuchsia Pendant Necklace

    Leather Band with Flowers

    Woven Leather Bracelet

    Tower Pendant Necklace

    Tube Pendant Necklace

    Beaded Pillows Bracelet

    Tangerine Aqua Dots Bracelet

    Woven Pendant Necklace

    Dangles Bracelet

    Fuzzy Bead Fur Bracelet

    Secret Amulet Pocket Pendant Necklace

    Sea Cucumber Bracelet

    Chocolate Dance Pendant Necklace

    Beaded Flower Pendant Necklace

    Meet Svetlana!
    Designer, artist, and educator Svetlana Kunina
 started exploring her vision of art through music, painting, and drawing. The opportunity to learn from great teachers in the United States and Russia led to experimenting with various mediums and forms of jewelry. Her inspiration comes from mixed cultures, traveling, and architecture. She keeps her mind open to new things and creating designs with no boundaries.

  • Recent Auction Loot!

    My collections are growing. I got so much good stuff at the auction this weekend, I just had to show off my new treasures—an (allegedly) 1930s snack set with plate, cup, and glass; a Pyrex casserole in an Oak Leaf & Acorn pattern (perfect for Fall food); a green depression glass Princess pattern cake plate (the auctioneer now thinks I’m supposed to bring him a cake at Christmas time); a couple of sets of salt & pepper shakers; some marbles; and that wood and metal thing there in the middle of the picture…

    Does anybody out there have any idea what this thing is? I really like to know ’cause I’m now the proud owner of two of them…

    I also came home with some other wood and metal goodies—license plates, a stamp set, an assortment of rulers, a temperature gauge, an aluminum serving tray, and some earrings. Not sure what my plan is for most of this stuff…but those earrings…

    Thinking I might disassemble those earrings and combine them with a chain I found at an estate sale plus some other odds an ends and turn them into a necklace. For inspiration, I may need to consult with the experts…

    I’m so spoiled working for Leisure Arts ’cause I can get my hands on great resource books like Beading Workshop and The Passionate Beader’s Guide without ever leaving my office!

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