Wrap It Up!

It can sometimes be hard to keep up with the newest trends in jewelry, since the fashion world is constantly evolving. But in case you didn’t know, wrap bracelets are the current trendy accessory for both men & women. (Check out our previous blog That’s a Wrap, featuring our how-to for an ultra-easy wrap bracelet design.) Do some research and you’ll find that designer versions of some styles can go for triple digits. Yowza! Love the look, but not the price tag? Have no fear, Blue Door Beads is here to help you make an equally appealing bracelet for a fraction of the price.

It’s amazing how easy these bracelets are to make, especially the version that’s a combo of leather & metal “beads”. All you need to make a double-wrap bracelet (for a 7-inch to 7.5-inch wrist) is:
– 4 feet of leather cord (1mm or 1.5mm both look great)
– 10 feet of waxed linen in a complimentary or contrasting color
– 22 inches of ball chain, like the kind used for dog tag necklaces — no need to thread a single bead!
– a button, washer, or large-holed bead to use as a clasp

We like using waxed linen as our anchoring thread because it’s stiff enough that it stays pretty much right wear you wrap it, without needing to constantly pull it taught. However, both the linen and the leather will soften with wear, resulting in a perfect, broken-in feel!

We highly recommend coming in to the shop so we can show you how to create this trendy accessory (for less than $9.00, by the way)! However, if you aren’t nearby and are in an adventurous mood, check out this great DIY how-to: DIY Wrap Bracelet.

And there you are! A fun new bracelet project for you to try out. Once you’ve completed your bracelet (or several!), be sure to email us your finished pieces at blog@bluedoorbeads.com and we’ll share the photos on our Facebook page. Happy beading!

Fly Away Home

One of our favorite things about summertime is the cluster of birds that chirp and flutter in the bushes in our store parking lot, greeting us every morning when we come to work. We have a wonderful variety of birds here in Oakland, California, including finches, mourning doves, bluejays, hummingbirds, and (our personal favorite) chickadees!

Too cute!

Their happy chattering and boundless energy make them a pleasure to watch, to the point where we almost wish our back parking lot was the front of our store, so that we could watch them all day! But we don’t mind waiting for our lunch breaks to step outside to watch them build their nests, call to one another, and swoop around in the sky.

We wanted to pay homage to our feathered friends, as well as the other winged creatures that flutter around our neighborhood, by showing you all of the fun bird, dragonfly, and butterfly beads & pendants we have in the shop. We also have classes and workshops coming up where you can create your own piece of flying-creature-inspired jewelry!

Vintaj never ceases to disappoint us! It seems there are always coming out with darling new bird & butterfly pendants and components. Choose from warm, brown nickel-free brass elements (that can be polished up to be really shiny!), or the slightly darker iron-based charms, also nickel-free.

We created the necklace pictured below using one of Vintaj’s “Songbird” altered blanks and embossed it using the Sizzix DecoEmboss Die in Cherry Blossom Garden. Swing by the shop to have us show you how to use the special edition Vintaj Sizzix BigKick embossing & etching machine. Caution: this technique is highly addicitive! As for the bird’s nest: we will soon be featuring a workshop where folks can drop in to the shop to learn how to create this darling little nest. Mix & match beads for multi-colored eggs that are great for pendants, as well as earrings!

Also flying around the shop: this unique variety of winged pendants and charms! We love the organic look of the carved bone and jade pendants, the shimmer of the mother-of-pearl butterflies (the tan one and orange one), and the cutie-pie dragonfly connector & sterling bird charm!

Create your own adorable butterfly pendant like the one pictured below in our Faux Cloisonné class happening this Sunday, August 26th! Learn to make polymer clay look like classic cloisonné…super cool! Call the shop at 510.652.2583 for more details.

And for those who would like to wear a fabulous piece of jewelry right out the door, we also have necklaces featuring a feathered friend or two. The necklace below features a polymer clay focal bead created by local artist and instructor, Debbie Anderson. Debbie will be teaching the Faux Cloisonné class — learn all about polymer clay from a pro!

In closing, we would like to wish you happy beading and share with you this quote from Victor Hugo: “Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.”

Never Second-Guess Inspiration

“Never second-guess inspiration.” Flannery O’Connor, American writer and essayist, said these wise words, and we couldn’t agree with her more. In fact, her words were the inspiration for this blog post. Funny enough, when we first started to write it, we thought, “Can we write an entire post about this concept?” And then we thought, “Why are we second-guessing ourselves? Of course we can!”

We have had many conversations with friends, family, and customers about what inspires them to create their fabulous jewelry, and, as with any large group of people, the answers they gave were wonderfully diverse:

Bead Boy & Bead Baby, a.k.a. husband and daughter of Sara, owner of Blue Door Beads

Whether their families were big or small, near or far, many beaders said members of their family either inspired them to start beading, are very appreciative of their beaded creations, or enjoy beading with them — or all three! And, of course, family often extends to pets as well, and many customers and students expressed their love for their furry friends through their jewelry. We personally love to create jewelry as gifts, and who better to receive tokens of our love than those nearest and dearest to us? Necklaces, earrings, pet collars — everything folks created for their loved ones definitely came from their hearts.

Bollywood-inspired earrings. The bright turquoise and shimmering gold reminded us of India!

Trips & Vacations
Several of our staff members have been fortunate enough to travel to far-off lands, including New Zealand, England, France, and India. Their experiences in these various countries have had lasting impressions on their design styles, and they are always looking for ways to add a little foreign flavor to their jewelry pieces. Sometimes their voyages directly influence their designs (an Eiffel Tower pendant, for example), while other times the exotic influence is more subtle, like in the Bollywood-style earrings pictured below right. From Maori tribal earthiness to Parisian glamor, a little foreign flair can go a long way.

Sea glass earrings, inspired by Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, CA.

Of course, you don’t have to travel very far to find inspiration. A few years ago, one staff member took a road trip with her sweetie to Fort Bragg, CA and had a blast scouring the local beach for bits of ocean-tumbled beach glass. It wasn’t until she was flipping through her photo album recently that she was inspired to commemorate that fun & relaxing trip with some beach glass earrings, pictured at left. She hadn’t even been looking for inspiration — it just came on its own!

A customer recently told us that she was inspired to create a really wildly-colored pair of earrings after getting out her bead stash and laying some bags of beads on her bed. She had always loved her vibrantly-colored bedspread, but had never thought to look at it as a design possibility! After picking out her favorite hues in the fabric, she blended blues, purples, and teals to crate an amazing pair of earrings (We didn’t have our camera that day. Dang it!). After that, she couldn’t wait to start looking around her own home for more inspiration!
Although the necklace pictured at right was created using a color palette found on design-seeds.com, one can easily find similar color combos in a neighborhood garden or local nursery. Other places to find great color combinations: farmer’s markets (gotta love those fruits & veggies), home decor stores (look for eclectic throw pillows, fun table linens, etc.), and hardware stores (you’ll never look at the paint chip aisle the same way again!)

This color palette inspired the necklace pictured above, even though we decided to go just a few shades lighter.

Still looking for great places to find inspiration? Here are just a few sites we enjoy perusing:

vintaj.com – Go to their Idea Gallery to look through photos of dozens of necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Even if you’d rather create a piece with more gold or silver than nickel-free brass, this site has great ideas for mixing metals, textures, colors, and more.

design-seeds.com – As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, as well as above, this site is an AWESOME resource for the color-challenged. Like blue? Click on any blue square in the website and you will be taken to numerous color combinations using that color. OR, adjust the blue to be more blue-green or blue-violet, and then surf again. The possibilities are endless.

Just four simple ingredients: leather, waxed linen, ball chain & a bead. Ta da! Stay tuned for more info on how to make this fab bracelet!

sundancecatalog.com – Amazing jewelry designs, but many pieces are a wee bit out of our price range. However, many of their designs are pretty easy to replicate, if you have a little time to play around with your beads & pieces. Two pearls and a gemstone wire-wrapped onto a leather strand? We can help you make something very similar for way less than $75. And those Chan Luu leather wrap bracelets for $200 and up? We created our own version for — get this — less than $9.00.

We hope this blog post has helped inspire you to do some beading, or has at least reminded you to never second-guess inspiration. Memories, people, and objects inspire us for a reason, so embrace those moments and be empowered by the inspiration, no matter how random it may seem. We would love to hear about where you have found inspiration in your life, so feel free to share. And remember to bead boldly!

Jewelry Flashback: Our Fave Looks from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s & 80’s

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the 80’s are back. Some may argue that this isn’t such a good thing (Acid-wash jeans? Leg warmers? I thought we put these fashion faux pas behind us, people!), but Blue Door Beads would like to play devil’s advocate, just a wee bit.

Photo courtesy of dorotheasclosetvintage.com

A few awesome things about 80’s jewelry fashion: big & chunky bracelets, necklaces and earrings, and lots and lots flash, either with vibrant colors or loads of sparkle! These looks may not be for everyone, but we whole-heartedly support having fun with your jewelry. If that means having folks raise their eyebrows at your rhinestone-encrusted baubles, then so be it. For those of us who never had a BeDazzler as a kid, now is our chance to make up for lost time. 🙂

Photo courtesy of thegemchronicles.com

Not the biggest fan of 80’s jewelry? Well, what about jewelry from the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s? Check out a few of our fave pieces (and our fave jewelry fashion icons):

It is hard to compete with the glitz factor of costume jewelry from the 1950’s. Who wouldn’t feel instantly sexy by adorning herself with layers upon layers of sparkly rhinestones? Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, after all.

Photo courtesy of retrohousewife.com

We love this photo of Marilyn dripping in jewels because she just looks so deliriously happy! Her glee may be due in part to the fact that she was of the most famous women in the world at the time, but we like to think it’s because she’s enjoying her amazing collection of diamonds. Lucky gal!

On to the 1960s, the decade when folks were busily flying around on PanAm, drinking, smoking, and being glamorous. Although the most common accessories were cigarettes and martini glasses, we celebrate the much healthier option of a fabulous strand of classic white pearls — or three strands in the case of the über-chic Jackie O.

Pearls possess a certain timeless elegance that makes them the perfect piece of jewelry to hand down from grandmother, to mother, to daughter. Obviously, pearl strands have been around much longer than the 1960’s, but we feel they are the perfect accessory for the styles of this decade, and we can’t think of a better 1960’s fashion icon than the former first lady.

Photo courtesy of rubyplaza.com

We don’t know about you, but this gal looks like she wants to go have an adventure in a folk music band with that tambourine!  This “alternative” style was due in part to the recession of the 1970’s in the West; public tastes, including fashion, veered away from the bright-and-shiny exuberance of the 1960’s and turned eastward instead, toward different cultures and the “ethnic” look.

Photo courtesy of rubylane.com

This brought about a huge surge in massive statement jewelry pieces. Just as was true with the cars of the decade (or “land yachts”, as we like to call them), in the 1970’s, bigger was better! Featuring funky, chunky beads mixed with different metals and materials, 1970’s jewelry pieces were some of the boldest jewelry to date.

The 1970’s may have ushered in a time of eye-catching, gigantic jewelry, but the 1980’s introduced a new & crazy color trend: NEON! Whether it was on lunch boxes, notebooks, clothes or jewelry, neon was everywhere, and if it was too bright for you, well…you better hope you had some rad Ray Bans to cut down on the glare.

Photo courtesy of rubylane.com

We have to say, vibrant jewelry just makes us happy! We can’t think of a better accessory for a plain white or black shirt than a brilliantly hued necklace, and it seems it’s always the bright, bold necklaces that earn us the most compliments — and who doesn’t love the occasional ego boost? So, we feel like the 80’s got it right, at least color-wise.

We can’t wrap up our four-decade blog without a shout-out to one of the most prolific style icons of the 1980’s. Love her or hate her, Madonna sure did know how to maximize her jewelry sex appeal.

Photo courtesy of aqauaskye.com

Pearls, rhinestones, chains — Madonna mixed them all with serious attitude, and although we don’t feel we’d ever be confident enough to wear a negligee in public or bold enough to rock her cone-bra look (we’ll leave that to Lady Gaga), we will happily stack our bracelets, layer our necklaces, and revel in our rock ‘n roll side.

We hope you have enjoyed this flashback to jewelry eras past. Whether you’re a fan of vintage styles, or are always looking to create new, modern looks, we applaud you for being adventurous with your jewelry style. Bead boldly!