Great News – eSMArties

There’s a new shop in town: the Etsy eSMArts boutique of hand crafted items.

Memory wire embellished with hearts, glass beads, and coiled wire beads: this is my first offering in a new shop at the eSMArts Boutique.

At the Etsy gallery, where everything is handcrafted, a new boutique can be found. It is offered to the shopping public as a place where you can find quality items made by hand. It does not offer home made: items of artistic, handcrafted artisan work are for sale.  Think of it as a Gallery Boutique. It is worth a visit: the products in this store vary widely.

Pictured above is a unique bracelet whose design rose from a fight with memory wire.  I finally conceded that a cuff bracelet would have to be made with something other than memory wire. I threw my cuff bracelet failure onto my work bench and a couple of days later picked it up again.

It had become a cuff bracelet with a difference. The manner in which the memory wire end curl around each other makes this piece of artisan jewellery a one of a kind cuff bracelet.

And it’s official: this is my version of a cuff bracelet. It’s all mine. It is unique to me. The failure has been elevated from a despised failure to a place of honour:


Notes to Self: A New Direction

Well, I did vent some hot air in my last Notes to Self: Bead Journal Project. I felt better after doing it, so the venting did some good. I still don’t apologize for the bombardment. If anything, I am grateful for the individuals who challenged the worthiness of my September bracelet submission.

The Spanish Bracelet that WON

The Winning Bracelet

The bracelet that didn't pass

The losing bracelet


It made my brain work ~~ always a painful process. Well, for me it is.

I have over 40 years of experience in the needlework arena. I don’t sew, and it takes me months to get around to replacing buttons that have disappeared into the recesses of coat pockets. But I do use needle and some form of ‘thread’ and I embellish, using many different techniques.

An embellishment in its own right, glass bead artisan jewellery when well done invites compliments and conversation. And it takes humble things, like wire, and makes something beautiful using many different techniques.

It is the marriage of embroidery techniques and my version of glass bead artisan jewellery techniques. What is born of this union is the Tips and Techniques thread I started some little while ago and have been ignoring shamelessly. It has been given a new lease on life.

So. I’ve decided to thank the naysayers for shedding light upon my path. They gave me lemons and I’ve given you lemon meringue pie.  MMMMM~Good.

Yours in beads ~~Helene

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

September Phoenix

I think I’ve mentioned somewhere that I have signed up for a year long project: Bead Journal Project ’08. I had to decide what form the ‘journal’ would take: many took it literally and are making page style items. For me it was a good excuse to make some jewellery: and September is a bracelet, a cuff shape in colours evocative of Spain. My sister, who wants to lose weight, save money and go to Spain has commissioned the piece. I’ve written an article about it. 

My hands suffered mightily because I decided to use memory wire – something I knew would be challenging. I had no idea how challenging it would be!!

beads + memory wire + crimp tubes = disaster

beads + memory wire + crimp tubes = disaster

Memory wire has a mind of its own and that is the beauty of it: it always returns to its original shape. It’s strength is also its weakness: it always returns to its original shape. Well, I finally got one length into a cuff shape with crimp tubes holding it. I let it sit for 24 hours. The next day I started to wrap it with copper wire and the whole thing exploded in my face: so much for the holding power of crimp tubes. And my hands hurt so badly from the effort of getting it into the cuff shape that all I could do was cry: I was defeated.

I HATE  to lose an argument, as people who know me can attest. But losing to a length of wire??!?! It cannot happen!!


I cut 2 lengths of memory wire and began wrapping and adding beads that tied the 2 pieces together like ribs. At one end of each wire I formed a loop. I intend on making several of these ribs before adding the real embellishment: wood beads wrapped with

2 lengths of memory wire held together with bead and wire ribs

2 lengths of memory wire held together with bead and wire ribs

 embroidery floss. I cannot say just what the final design will look like because my fav way to design is doing the thing and letting serendipity reign. Posts like this are the notes that will be the roadmap of the design.


Well, you know, as I was adding my scribbles about this method I had an eureka moment. The flash of light over my head was blinding. I was in awe. I was speechless. …


The end loops of the rib style cuff shape was what gave me that new idea.  I took another length of memory wire, made a loop at each end, then – are you ready?! – I joined the 2 loops. So simple.


memory wire + round nose pliers = interesting shape

memory wire + round nose pliers = interesting shape

It will work only as long as it takes to get some design elements into it to help keep its shape. The start of this shape will see copper wire lacing the 2 loops together.


When I told Marg about my trials and their outcome she was well pleased: instead of 1 bracelet she will be getting 2. One will be her everyday cuff and the other will be her Sunday Best cuff.


The ‘rib cuff’ will be the ‘Spanish Rib’ cuff while the second will be known as the ‘Spanish Phoenix’ cuff.


I’ll let you know of my progress, so please check back often.


Spanish Bracelet 1

Cuff Bracelet to Spain
Cuff Bracelet to Spain
Cuff Bracelet Going to Spain
Cuff Bracelet Going to Spain

My sister wants a trip to Spain. She needs to save a whole lot of money to get there. As a reminder, like the string tied onto a finger, she commissioned a piece of artisan jewellery that would act in the same manner as the string.

I’ve had an awful time with the memory wire: it’s very Type A and so am I so it has been truly a battle to see who will win. While all you see right now is a skeleton of the cuff bracelet, the next step is to wire up a few more ‘ribs’ and ‘connective tissue’ that will act as a platform for the rest of the beads.
I thought I would add some copper wire: a stronger colour than gold, copper will look better in bright sunlight. The black beads will help with the stringing.
At least that’s the hope.