Notes to Self – Bead Journal Project

I’m about to step onto my soapbox and get mouthy. You are forewarned.

I signed up for a year long challenge: Bead Journal Project 2008-2009. Each month of the year you make something that has beads in it. The size and style and methods are my own decisions to make. The only  rule is that beads are used somewhere in it, that it reflects myself and the month in which it is made.

The term goes from September 2008 to August 2009.

It’s a great way to bring like-minded people together.

I chose jewellery as my overall theme. For my September piece, I chose to make a bracelet. It’s inspiration came from my sister who wants to travel to Spain but can’t afford it. The bracelet, her request, was to be worn when she goes shopping or mall crawling and it was to be a reminder that she is saving her money for her Spanish trip. Thus the name of the September project: Spanish Bracelet.

I made several different bracelets that have beads in them. But I made 1 bracelet with coiled wire and no beads. And it is this bracelet that has made a tempest in a teapot.

I documented my creations through pictures: both the wirecoil Spanish Bracelet and others that had beads.

And I received a couple of comments suggesting I had not followed the rules of the Project.

Yes, I know I am venting.  And I’m not finished.

The September project was a piece using memory wire: that was explained early on: I was having an awful time constraining the memory wire. I even broke a filling through clenching my teeth.

I finally through it on my workbench in disgust. And that’s when I made the Spanish Bracelet of coiled copper wire. I know – no beads.

Well, shortly after giving up on the memory wire, I noticed it had coiled itself in a rather interesting manner while is was sitting in disgrace on the workbench. It had redeemed itself.

And that picture was added to my Journal notes.

It was suggested that I should not be making beaded artisan jewellery as it did not fall within the parameters of the rules. And that the wire coiled Spanish Bracelet had to be removed because it had no beads.

I defer to the last comment but certainly not to the first. The rules say beads must be used. But it does not say anything anywhere that it must be embroidery with beads.

But if an argument must be made with embroidery in mind, then here it is.

On the memory wire bracelet I made wrapped beads in the stumpwork fashion: embroidery floss was wrapped around and through a wooden bead. That was then added to the memory wire.  Wire springs were coiled to make wire beads and then added to the memory wire.

The Phoenix Rises

The Phoenix Rises

 What was so clever was that the end curls, one small and one large, wrapped around themselves, making an unusual form on the wrist.

It had beads.

The whole lot of beads was strung on a copper wire which then worked back on itself spreading the beads and wrapping the copper ‘thread.’

This wire wrapping is used in jewellery making, yes. But it is also used in embroidery. It’s called ‘couching.’ And you will find couching in needlepoint, Japanese silk embroidery, stumpwork, surface embroidery, and other techniques.

Having said all this, I still affirm that what the beads is carried on is not up for discussion. Only the use of beads is a requirement.

I used beads.

And that’s what I think.   Helene


Great News – Play for Change

A ‘busker’ is a street performer, paid in nickels and dimes. They ‘play for change.’

Change: noun, alteration; substitution of one for another (from Oxford English Dictionary).

I was listening to Bill Moyers Journal today, Sunday, October 26, 2008. I was entertained by James K Galbraith, author of The Predator State. How a propos to today’s monetary crisis.

Following that interview came Mark Johnson, the creator of Play for Change. He’s been working for at least 10 years on the idea that the world peoples can be united together through Music. The idea came to him in a New York subway station when he observed how the music of a pair of monks, buskers, affected the crowds hurrying to work.

“I think music is the one thing that opens the door to bringing people to a place where they are all connected,” Mark observed.

As they say, the rest is history. Mark travelled the world and recorded and filmed musicians of varied music styles singing the same songs. The magic is in the editing. It is a round robin of sound, solos and chorales. And it is truly magic. He knew that music soothes the savage beast: and the savage beast is us.

 “I think that in order to really unite people, you know, we have to show that in our darkest situations and in the places with the most struggles in the world, that we can find a way of uplifting each other out of it. I remember hearing somebody that said, you know, ‘The last person who knew why we were fighting died a long time ago.’ ” – Mark Johnson

“With Playing for Change, my ultimate thing would be that people understand that in a world with all this division, it’s important for us to focus on our connections. ” – Mark Johnson

Fear lives in the dark. ‘Know thy neighbour’ takes away fear. And, through music, light comes into our lives and vanquishes fear.

‘Let’s get together and feel alright.’

It’s a worthy goal, albeit a monumentous task. 

Ask yourself, ‘what can I do?’

Look within to learn how you can help. Look outside yourself and, with self-knowledge, choose where you can help. Finally, help.

The good you do will inspire others to do the same. It matters not how you dispel fear. It matters only that you do.

Well, that’s what I think.   Helene

Notes to Self – The Art of Gift Giving

We have no money. And Christmas is fast approaching. Already Christmas decorations are appearing in the shopping malls and Halloween hasn’t arrived yet. Every thing you see appears to be so ‘commercial.’

To avoid getting the wrong gift, gift certificates and gift cards are available at many stores, both in the ‘real world’ and in cyberspace. You aren’t giving money, you are giving the gift of choice.

Instead of giving a gift like artisan jewellery, give a beading kit or even just the instructions. It will introduce a lucky person to a new craft which can lead to many hours of fun and creativity.

To make Christmas more meaningful for you and your family, consider my friend Heather’s tradition. Each fall she gets a ‘boy stocking’ and a ‘girl stocking’ from the Salvation Army. She fills them with toiletries that a family in need can always use: soap, shampoo, a mirror, comb and brush, toothbrush and toothpaste, and so on. She also includes mitts and scarves. And a book or toy: one for a boy and one for a girl. Heather has her own children and grandchildren  and even a couple of great-grandchildren. But she includes another 2 childen she will never meet. Is that not a gift of love?

Maybe adopting a child in need or volunteering as a Big Sister or Big Brother is a way for you to give the gift of your time throughout the year.

A favourite of newly weds, especially the very young ones,  is a gift tailored to your spouse. A book of coupons to be redeemed throughout the year for special attention and costs just a bit of paper and little time to think up the special part. I know from experience that this kind of gift is a very big hit at any time during a marriage. Expand the field and make a coupon of love book for everybody in the family. Maybe babysitting will fit the bill for a new mother. It’s a gift of thought you will be giving with your coupon book.

With a bit of effort you can come up with many gift ideas that ‘keep on giving’ throughout the year: things that won’t be thrown into the back of a drawer or closet and soon forgotten. Give the gift of your thoughtfulness, give the gift of your time.

About the Author: Helene Turnbull is an glass bead jewellery artisan who writes about beads and beading techniques. She has held a needle and thread in her hands for over 40 years and during much of that time there are beads involved with her embroidery.  You can see some of her work at and

Around Town – Gift Giving and Your Budget

It’s that crazy time of year again when people forget their manners and spend way too much money. The buying of gifts at Christmas is meant to follow in the footsteps of the 3 Magi who brought gifts precious gifts to the baby, Jesus.

What’s so bad this year is the economy. Both Canada and the USA are facing elections and the economy is on everybody’s mind. What can we do to help our own financial situation? Go into this shopping season with a plan. A budget. Sit quietly in your own home and think of each person who will receive a gift from you. Armed with this planning and your budget, attend the Crafts Shows in your area. Wherever possible, buy something made by an artist’s hand: these are the gifts people cherish year after year. How many years have you hung that horrid paper chain your child made in preschool?

Now, about the budget! Following is the plan format I follow. Print off a few copies. Send them to your friends. They need this plan as much as you and I need it.


Christmas 2008











Miscellaneous: Show Entry



Parking / Transit



Rentals:   Wheelchair



Coat Check



Dinner after the Show



Office Gift



Unexpected Guest





























































































Now you are armed, strengthened by your plan. Where is the best place to get all these things on the list?

Artists and artisans hope to make you a happy customer at the Christmas Crafts Shows. Supporting a local artist is a great way to spend your gift money. Artisan jewellery helps span the distance between junque and precious gems and precious metals. A good piece of artisan jewellery is something you will be pleased to pass down through the coming generations.

‘Give a fish to a starving person and s/he will eat for a day. Teach her/him to fish and s/he will eat for his/her lifetime.’ We’ve all heard that bit of wisdom but how can you do that in a gift?

Purchase gifts that are patterns for the receiver of your gift to make. Buy a video teaching techniques. This gift may be the start of a lifelong passion: perhaps, even a career.

Do you have any ideas about what would make a good yet inexpensive gift? Let me know and I’ll publish it in the next Glass Bead News monthly email newsletter.

About Town – Handmade Jewellery

Look everybody and see what I’ve found!


Vanessa Glavac is a young entrepreneur who found a niche market; producing videos of basic techniques in beading. She breaks down each technique into easy to follow steps and, before you know it, you are creating your own artisan jewellery. Once you have these basic techniques you can do anything beaded your imagination can think of.


Vanessa has graciously given me permission to reprint her article: Handmade Jewellery – The Perfect Gift.                             ……..Helene




Handmade Jewellery – The Perfect Gift


If you’re looking for the perfect gift, you might not find it — so why not make it yourself? Handmade beaded jewellery is an easy and inexpensive gift — and fun for givers and receivers.


Jewellery That Matches Everything…Even Your Wallet

Glass beads come in a wide range of prices, so you’re sure to find something that works for your budget. You can also find beautiful but inexpensive acrylic beads. Or if you want to spend more, you can go with semi-precious stones or crystals. Since you’re making it yourself, it is easy to keep things inexpensive and spend just as much as you want to.


Make it Anytime

Making it yourself means you can make it at the time that works best for you. This is especially helpful when it’s 11:00 at night and you realize that you need a gift — for the next day! It’s easy to pull out some beads and make something special, even when all the stores have been closed for hours.


Match Maker

Once you have one piece designed, you can easily make a set. And you can make exactly what your friend likes, instead of buying a lot of extra stuff just to get the one thing she’ll wear. 


Personalize It

It can be hard to decide on the right gift when nothing seems quite right. There’s no better way to personalize a gift then by making it yourself. When you design beaded jewellery for your friends, you can design it with their favourite colours, style, and wardrobe in mind. And if you’re giving clothing as a gift, you can make matching jewellery to go with it.


Perfect Fit

Since you’ve made the jewellery yourself, you also have the power to change it. If your friend tries on the piece and finds that it doesn’t quite fit, you can easily adjust it.

I’ve even given my friends unfinished bracelets — after she takes it out of the box, I measure her wrist and finish it for her.


Give Me Something to Talk About

A gift of handmade jewellery makes a great conversation piece, especially at parties. As soon as you say “I made it myself”, people will ask you how you made it, where you got the beads, and how you came up with such great ideas.


It Just Means More:

Perhaps the best reason to make jewellery as a gift is the added meaning attached to it. In this age when everything is pre-packaged and mass manufactured, your friends will appreciate you taking the time to make something by hand, just for them.


About the Author: Vanessa Glavac writes about  making unique artisan jewellery. For information on how to make your own beaded artisan jewellery, visit, where you’ll find Vanessa’s easy-to-understand videos and ideas so that you can quickly and easily design your own gorgeous jewellery.

Technique – Flat Wire Coil

Here is another way you can coil wire and it doesn’t require a mandrel. Make one to use as a charm on a bracelet. Make a bunch of them and link them together to make a bracelet or a necklace.

What's Needed 


5in length of #22ga wire, round nose pliers, that’s it.


They look a bit like a 'Kilroy was Here'

Kilroy was Here

Bend the length of wire in half. Make it a nice round bend, not a fold.

With the round nose pliers, make a loop at 1 end of the wire. Keeping the wire flat, coil the wire around this loop and holding it flat with the round nose pliers. Continue coiling until it is about 3/4in from the bend. The coil should be facing in toward the remaining long tail of the wire.

Repeat Step 2 until this coil is the same distance from the bend as the 1st coil. They are facing each other.

Move 1 coil over the other until their backs are to each other. As you make these elements, stay consistent about which coil goes over the other: if you move the right over the left, stay with it. As with any technique, the key to success is in the consistency of the work.

Hook and Eye Clasp
Hook and Eye Clasp

There is no point in doing any handwork if you are not having fun doing it. No fun?! Have you given yourself enough time and effort to learn the technique? Stop doing it.


Among us is a talented and generous teacher: Jelcy Romberg. She teaches just about anybody who asks. Her philosophy is that a technique is taught and what you do with it is up to you. One cannot copyright a technique but one can copyright a particular project using the technique. She encourages all artisan jewellers to try new things.