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UPDATE 1/9/2013: Congratulations to Colleen White of Bradenton, Florida, the randomly selected winner of this giveaway. Our thanks to everyone who participated: thank you for being a part of our community! ~ Ray

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Well, it’s the holiday season, and I hope you’re feeling in the spirit—or at least whatever kind of good spirit is meaningful to you!

The spirit I’m feeling today is genuine gratitude for all the kind community you share with us throughout the year, and that makes me want to give something special to thank you.

So I’m doing a spur-of-the-moment giveaway, and a big one: a random selection of 15 of our 500 Series books old and new from Lark Jewelry & Beading, including two especially precious ones that are out of print. Here are the books in the set, stacked nicely in a pile by my desk (okay, honestly, that’s not my desk or anywhere close to it; my desk is covered in papers and a stack of books would tumble over very loudly):

Showcase 500 Rings
Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry
500 Necklaces
500 Pendants & Lockets
500 Metal Vessels
500 Judaica
500 Silver Jewelry Designs
500 Plastic Jewelry Designs
500 Brooches (out of print)
500 Bracelets
400 Polymer Clay Designs
500 Gemstone Jewels
1000 Glass Beads (being taken out of print with more than 38,000 copies sold lifetime, and we have now run out of stock in our warehouse)
1000 Rings
21st Century Jewelry: The Best of the 500 Series

How can you enter for a chance to win this fabulous set of 15 inspiring gift books? Leave a comment on this blog post by 9 p.m. EST on Wednesday, January 2. Any comment will do, but we’d love it if you’d write about something special: the most meaningful present you’ve ever given—and what made it so special.

One winner will be selected at random and announced on January 11, 2013. I encourage you to join us: Please “Like” the Lark Jewelry & Beading Facebook page to see photos of contemporary jewelry and beading work and to be alerted to free projects and giveaways on this blog. Click here for the official giveaway rules.

Good luck. And, of course, we here at Lark wish you and your family a holiday season and new year filled with kindness, joy, laughter, and grace.

 
 
 
 
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It’s Time to Plan for Wedding Bells

January 19, 2012, 08:00 am  Posted by Lark
 

It’s winter and weddings are in the air. January and February are the biggest planning months for brides-to-be. With so many  decisions to be made—from THE dress to the place for the ceremony, all the way down to the small details like seating cards and wedding favors for the guest—it can be a bit overwhelming. So what’s a girl to do? One place to turn to for wedding inspiration is Etsy. There you can find everything from rings, invitations, and bouquets to yes, even THE dress. Most shops will happily customize items to the colors, font, and wording that will complement your wedding perfectly.

 

Wedding dress

Some old, something new, something borrowed, something fabulous like this custom dress from Holly Stalder.

More Etsy nuptial finds after the jump.

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Rachel Nelson-Smith

Rachel Nelson-Smith is one of the most popular and talented beadwork designers and teachers in the world. Rachel is the author of the new book Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Bead Riffs, as well as an earlier release Seed Bead Fusion, and also a contributor to numerous magazines and books, including the gallery book Masters: Beadweaving. Visit her online at www.rachelnelsonsmith.com.

We also invite you to sample projects from Rachel’s new Bead Riffs book we’ve posted on this blog: Download a PDF of the Billie’s Bounce necklace or a PDF of the gorgeous Rondo neckpiece.

Rachel, this is a distinct variant of the standard first question for my interviews with beaders: How did you start … singing jazz? Tell us about what that experience—and that work and play—are like.

A mutual high school friend of local ladies I sang renaissance madrigals with, Michael Parker, once asked me if I was interested in singers like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. In response to my disinterest he made a mix tape featuring jazz singers like those two, along with others like Bette Midler and Edie Brickell.

The music really grew on me as I listened to the recordings over and over—particularly the song “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” because Parker said it was a very difficult song to sing. Years later, my friend Craig Pena introduced me to his coworkers who had a garage band called The Jazz Dogs in San Jose, California. With this group, led by Apple software engineer Kris Stephens in psychologist Tom Martin’s garage, I learned to sing jazz.

Kris later took me in and I became his housemate. With his experience as a jazz trombone major, he taught me many of the ins and outs of jazz from a musician’s perspective, rather than a singer’s. Another member of the Jazz Dogs group, Nick Beason, who worked for Compaq at the time, would share his jazz CDs with me. We’d shop at Tower Records after practice and attend live shows at Yoshi’s in Oakland, Bimbo’s in San Francisco, and other venues in the Bay Area. Those concerts, recordings, and discussions expanded my jazz knowledge.

Later, I attended the weeklong Stanford Jazz Festival as a student of the well-recorded singer and pianist Dena DeRose, as well as Bay Area singer Madeline Eastman and one of my all-time-favorite international singers, Mark Murphy. Drummer Billy Higgins was also teaching that summer, along with bassist Ray Drummond. The horizons really expanded. In a vocal jazz class with Roger Letson at DeAnza College, I was even beginning to scat and gain more live performance confidence.

It was during this time I volunteered regularly at the local jazz station KCSM 91.1 FM in San Mateo for its fund drives—answering phones and taking donations—and this lead to volunteering on a near-weekly basis with radio announcer Jesse “Chuy” Varela. Chuy would share extra CDs and concert tickets with me for the volunteer work I’d do, mainly entering CD information into their database.

Ultimately, I had attended so many concerts at Yoshi’s through the gratis tickets from the radio station that the Yoshi’s ticket-takers would let me in whether I had a ticket or not—and, most importantly, whether or not the show was sold out. Many times a single chair was pulled into the center aisle so I could listen to a sold-out show.

As my love of listening, performing, and singing grew, I drove many miles to attend jam sessions in San Francisco at Rasselas and Bruno’s, as well as in Santa Cruz, where I ultimately spent time on the board of the Jazz Society of Santa Cruz and conducted their weekly jam session.

Great origins story, Rachel. Is the story about how you started beading as dramatic? Why don’t you tell it?

After a failed semester away at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, studying musical theater, I returned home to live with my parents in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I took up classes at the local junior college as a mostly undecided English, psychology, and theater major with a short attention span. To help with expenses I got a job in downtown Santa Cruz at the local bead shop, Bead It.

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Free Holiday Projects Roundup!

December 25, 2011, 14:23 pm  Posted by Lark
 

Not ready to get out of holiday crafting mode yet? Or perhaps you just want to get a head start on next year? Here’s a roundup of all the free holiday projects we’ve shared this month, all in one handy dandy place.

Woolen Tree Trio

Oh, Christmas Trees Ornaments

Felt Blooms Wreath

Sweet Trio Ornaments

Toadstool Ornaments

Sewn Tablet/Ereader Case

Gingerbread Men Embroidered Apron

Holiday Shopping List Taker

We so hope we’ve added a little handmade merriment to your celebrations this year… and beyond. Happiest of holidays to you and yours from the needlearts team!

 
 
 
 
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Sweet Finds: Peppermint Recipes

December 21, 2011, 08:45 am  Posted by Lark
 

Holiday treats—oh la la! Now is one of the best times of year for sweets, hands down. People make delicious, beautiful, over-the-top, meant-to-be-shared confections all season long, and I whole-heartedly support it. Seriously: nice job, oh ye dessert-makers. Standing ovation.

 

From hot cocoa to cookies, and hot toddies to eggnog, the winter holidays are designed to put a perpetual smile on our faces. One mainstay flavor shines especially brightly during this time of year: peppermint—that cool, refreshing taste synonymous with candy canes, soothing tea, and those cute little after-dinner pinwheels of red and white.

 

As I went on a hunt for peppermint-y sweets, I realized just how versatile this flavor can be! I also realized a universal truth: peppermint and chocolate belong together. They’re like Sonny and Cher, PB and J, Bert and Ernie, Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley—they complete each other. This is why you’ll notice a fair amount of chocolate and mint business happening in the links that follow—the food visionaries behind the recipes know their stuff, and they elevate peppermint to gorgeous, clever, decadent heights.

 

In celebration of the holidays and in praise of peppermint, here are some links to recipes that just might have you racing to the kitchen for some treat-making adventures of your own.

 

And for those of us who really embrace this time of year as a benchmark of deliciousness? Rock on, holiday sweet tooth, rock on.

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Peppermint Hot Chocolate :: from two tarts

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Three-Layer Peppermint Bark :: from Orangette

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Chocolate Peppermint Roll with Chocolate Ganache :: from Joy the Baker

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Homemade Peppermint Patties :: from Krissy’s Creations

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Fudgy York Peppermint Patty Brownies :: from sweet anna’s

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Peppermint Bark Smookies :: from What’s Gaby Cooking

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Peppermint Stick Torte with Hot Fudge Sauce :: from The Galley Gourmet

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Peppermint Rice Krispies Treats Snowballs :: from She Wears Many Hats

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Peppermint simple syrup for Peppermint Mochas :: from Cook Like a Champion

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(and because you have to love teeny tiny mustaches)

Mustachioed Marshmallow Snowmen :: from the decorated cookie

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We’ve asked some of our authors, contributors, and favorite people in the jewelry community to recommend the best jewelry books, and we’re putting them all together right here for you. The books might be ones they especially treasure and love, that affected their own work or development, or simply books they’d recommend as excellent, helpful, and instructive.

Our newest list is from Alison Lee of CraftCast, joining the lists of Thomas Mann, Barbara Becker Simon, Stacie Hooder, Pauline Warg, and Ingeborg Vandamme. Also, you’re welcome to see our lists of best books for beaders.

Please enjoy, share the link widely, and leave a comment on this post with the jewelry books you’d recommend to jewelers and crafters. Join the Lark Jewelry & Beading community on Facebook, too.

Alison Lee

List No. 6: Alison Lee

Alison Lee is the founder and host of CRAFTCAST, a website and community for live online crafting classes and video downloads from the top teachers in a range of crafts, including jewelry and beading.


Metal Clay Beads by Barbara
Becker Simon

This is one of my absolute favorite books! Endless inspiration and techniques inside. I go back to this book often.

 

 

21st Century Jewelry by Marthe Le Van

This book is pure inspiration! I love having this kind of eye candy available when I need it.

 

 

 

30-Minute Earrings by Marthe Le Van

Another great book edited by Marthe Le Van. Lots of great ideas that you can copy or use as a jumping off point to get yourself creatively moving.

 

 

 

 

Chains Chains Chains by Joanna Gollberg and Nathalie Mornu

I love making chains, so I really appreciated Joanna and Nathalie’s book, which takes a fresh look at some classic patterns. Lots of current new looks to get inspired by.



 

 

 


Barbara Becker Simon

List No. 5: Barbara Becker Simon

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Best Beading Books: Eight Lists

December 01, 2011, 16:55 pm  Posted by Lark Jewelry & Beading
 

We’ve asked some of our authors, contributors, and favorite people in the beading community to recommend the best beading and jewelry books, and we’re stacking these lists all together right here for you. The books might be ones they especially treasure and love, that affected their own work or development, or simply books they’d recommend as excellent, helpful, and instructive.

These lists come from Jean Campbell, Kathy King, Diane Fitzgerald, Carol Dean Sharpe, Sabine Lippert, Margie Deeb, Jennifer VanBenschoten, and Jill Wiseman. Read them, and then go read even more lists.

Please enjoy, share the link widely, and leave a comment on this post with the beading and jewelry books you’d recommend to others. Join the Lark Jewelry & Beading community on Facebook, too.

List No. 8: Jean Campbell

Jean Campbell is the senior editor of Beadwork magazine, a Create Your Style Crystallized Elements Ambassador for Swarovski, a blogger for Beading Daily, and the author of numerous books, including Creating Glamorous Jewelry with Swarovski Elements, The Art of Beaded Beads, Steampunk Style Jewelry, and Beading with Crystals. Visit her website at www.jeancampbellink.com.

I have so many favorites that this could take all week, but here are a handful of books that I seem to go to for inspiration again and again:

Seed Bead Fusion: 18 Projects to Stitch, Wire & String by Rachel Nelson-Smith: Book CoverSeed Bead Fusion by Rachel Nelson-Smith: I love Rachel’s use of color, but it’s her beadwork shaping in conjunction with wire that totally inspires me. She’s a genius! I also like that this book has both step-out photography and illustrations, something rare in beadwork books.



Enchanted Adornments by Cynthia Thornton: This book’s title is so appropriate. It reads like a personal fairy tale, and Cynthia’s designs and whimsical illustrations are just magical.



Creating Crystal Jewelry with Swarovski
by Laura McCabe: This has been a go-to book for so many of us crystal lovers! Laura really started the whole ball rolling on seed beaders working with crystal stones, and this is the bible on how to do it. I especially like her sizing charts.



Marcia DeCoster’s Beaded Opulence
Diane Fitzgerald’s Shaped Beadwork
Maggie Meister’s Classical Elegance
Sherry Serafini’s Sensational Bead Embroidery
These four books by four of the powerhouses in the bead world are simply stunning. Marcia’s intriguing shaping, Diane’s clever stitching, Maggie’s delicious inspiration, and Sherry’s sumptuous designs make them all coffee-table books at my house.

Kathy King

List No. 7: Kathy King

Kathy King is the author of Bead Quilled Jewelry., and her work has been featured in all the leading beading magazines. Learn more about Kathy and her work at www.kathykingjewelry.com.

Here a a list of five of my favorite jewelry books. There are so many it was hard to pick just five!

Creative Bead Weaving: A Contemporary Guide To Classic Off-Loom Stitches1. Creative Bead Weaving by Carol Wilcox Wells: After taking my first beadweaving class from Carol, this was the first book I bought on the subject. It is still one of the best for instruction on the basic stitches.

 

500 Beaded Objects: New Dimensions in Contemporary Beadwork by Lark Books: Book Cover2. 500 Beaded Objects: New Dimensions in Contemporary Beadwork by Carol Wilcox Wells and Terry Krautwurst: This is just a great book to show you the diversity of seed beads. I love seeing what other artists are doing with the medium and am constantly amazed by it.

 

Masters: Beadweaving by Carol Wilcox Wells: Book Cover3. Masters: Beadweaving — Major Works by Leading Artists by Carol Wilcox Wells and Ray Hemachandra: Another great book to see what others are doing with the medium. Tons of inspiration from all the artists.

 

 

Art Jewelry Today 2 by Jeffrey B. Snyder: Book Cover

4. Art Jewelry Today 2 by Jeffrey B. Snyder: A great source of inspiration for jewelry design. It covers all kinds of materials and styles. I love seeing what other seed beaders are doing and also seeing the shapes and colors artists from other mediums are using.

 

 

Miriam Haskell Jewelry by Cathy Gordon: Book Cover

5. Miriam Haskell Jewelry by Cathy Gordon and Sheila Pamfiloff: The book covers the entire career of Miriam Haskell and all the different designers that have worked for the company. I get so much inspiration for designs looking at the costume jewelry created over the past several decades.

 


Diane Fitzgerald

List No. 6: Diane Fitzgerald

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The 12s on Quilt Festival: Deborah Boschert

November 02, 2011, 11:00 am  Posted by guestblogger
 

Quilt Festival 2011 is nearly upon us! Join us as we talk with some of the authors of Twelve by Twelve about their upcoming trip…

Deborah with her quilt, Construction: Concrete and Stone. She was inspired to enter the juried special exhibit after attending her first International Quilt Festival.

Today’s guest: Deborah Boschert

What Festival is this for you?

This will be my fourth time attending Festival.

Where will you be and when?

Well, there is so much to see and do! And people to connect with! But, I am especially excited that all nine of the Twelves who will be at Festival will be in our special exhibit space from 6:30 to 7 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We’ll be happy to sign copies of our book or just talk about the Twelve by Twelve project.

What are you most excited about this year?

I really am just giddy with excitement about meeting the other Twelves in person and spending time with them. We’ll be going out for Tex-Mex together one evening. I’m eager to raise a glass of margaritas and toast our exhibit and our friendship!

Is there one piece that you’re really excited to see in person?

Deborah's quilt Spring Suggestin' created for the BlueBrownSage ColorPlay challenge. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I think this is the best of my ColorPlay collection. It has inspired many more small fabric collage landscapes.

Most quilters know there is just no substitute for seeing an art quilt “in the cloth.” I’ve studied our collection of Twelve by Twelve quilts online for more than four years and I can only begin to imagine how much better they will be in person.

What’s your one must-take item for Festival?

Well, one year my roommate snored, so now I remember to bring ear plugs. I try to come with an eager spirit and lots of energy.

What valuable lessons have you learned from past Festivals?

Be completely open to unexpected nuggets of inspiration. Seeing award winning quilts and artists encourages me to challenge myself creatively and to continue seeking my own personal style. At my first Festival, I was really captivated by the Tactile Architecture exhibit. The following year, I entered and was accepted. It was thrilling to have my work displayed for the first time. It’s even more thrilling to be a part of the Twelve by Twelve special exhibit this year.

 
 
 
 
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Interview with the Authors of Gourds + Fiber

May 04, 2011, 08:00 am  Posted by Lark
 

Renowned gourd artists Ginger Summit and Jim Widess have teamed up again to author their fifth book on gourds, Gourds + Fiber. This title celebrates the intertwining of gourd art and fiber work. Although Jim and Ginger currently have many demands on their time, they kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

How long have you been a gourd artist and what inspired you to begin?

Ginger: I’ve been working with gourds since the early 1990s, when I saw Jim’s (Widess) booth at a weaving conference (I’m a weaver on the side!). The shapes were so inspiring, instead of filling my car with yarns, it quickly became loaded with gourds.

Jim: I’ve been selling chair caning and basketry supplies since 1969. In the late 80’s I noticed that a number of coiled basket makers were beginning to use gourds in conjunction with their work. Not only did the projects go faster using the gourd as the major container and the coiling as an embellishment on the gourd, but also their hands enjoyed the increased variety of movement associated with the gourd work.

How did you both come to work together to author five books?
Ginger: As a teacher, my first impulse was to go to the library and find everything that had been written on gourds. How surprised I was to find that absolutely nothing was available—not even a reference! After a little research, I learned that the last book published on gourd work came out in 1970. Although the information was excellent, the examples were sadly outdated. I had already attended some local gourd shows, and knew that much more was possible, given the advance in art materials and the imaginations of contemporary artists. A great deal had changed since that book.

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Eggcellent Eggs for Easter

April 14, 2011, 11:28 am  Posted by Lark
 
Carton of eggs with faces

I explained to these eggs this morning that some of them will survive (be decorated for Easter) but I was in the mood for a hearty breakfast. ... (Breakfast-making picture at the end of this blog)

After Easter lunch, my grandmother would give my brother, cousin and me our own special dyed Easter egg that she had decorated for us. Of course, after over 20 years, I don’t have those eggs anymore. But then, around middle school, my friends and I decided to continue the tradition by meticulously personalizing eggs for each other with themes, inside jokes, or just art that represented our interests- no dyes; we used paints, Sharpies, nail polish, you-name-it (and for ‘forever eggs’- I recommend cheating and getting egg-shaped wood ones from a craft store).

Egg with Queen's Innuendo

This is an egg my friend, Jordan, painted me in high school. It's Queen's Innuendo album cover (great music).

I think it’s an “eggcellent” gift that’s creative and (unless you’re going for the bejeweled Faberge look) cheap. If you don’t get too detailed, a bunch of decorated eggs can make a great centerpiece (which I plan to make this year.) Also, I’ll even add a way to incorporate eggs into jewelry for this post. :)

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