Butterfly Exhibition Challenge Reveal

It started with an idea for an exhibition challenge- no voting, no winners, no prizes. I wanted us to celebrate creativity and beading as an art form. Participants must use something from the kit in their beadwork and incorporate beadweaving techniques.

I threw down the butterfly challenge inspired by their Herculean type strength that allows for their complete transformation…


and put together the kits..


Now it’s time for the Big Reveal! Click the pictures for a closer look.

Lynn Lytle
Katy, Texas

Many years ago my mom started beading peyote bracelets after she broke her ankle and could no longer square dance. I has made numerous macramé bracelets with beads in my youth and had taken a course from Sitting Bull’s great granddaughter learning how to bead with quills a very long time ago! When my mom moved to Texas after my dad died, we had plans to explore the world of beaded dolls together. Unfortunately, she passed away soon after and I became the owner of her extensive bead collection, and somehow, I got where I am today!


I am a member of the Houston Bead Society and find my strengths are in free form bead embroidery since I’m not much of a jewelry wearer. Lately I have been exploring mixed media assemblages, but when I saw this challenge, I knew it was time to bead again!


Having 2 teenage daughter doesn’t leave me much time in the summer, so I took the challenge quite literally. I included the quote Mandi provided – printed on vellum – and used only the beads provided (except for the caterpillar’s legs and head and the blue sparkly bead on top of a toadstool), adding only the flower, wire, empty spools, glass bottle and mirror. I really am happy with the end result and it looks amazing sitting on my window ledge. Thanks for the opportunity to participate. I hope my butterflies carry their message of hope to everyone who sees them.


Amy Royster
Roselle, Illinois

After last year’s challenge, I could not wait to see what Mandi came up with this year. FLUTTERBYS!!! YAY!!!

For some reason, when I started thinking about this challenge, I thought of how butterflies gracefully land on flowers to drink the nectar, and this led me to wanting flowers around my neck to attract the butterflies to me.


Here in the Midwest, the trees are beginning to turn, the wind is getting nippy, and the skies are withering to gray (YUK!), so I wanted bright colors for my flowers, to entice my butterflies out of their cocoons for just a little longer….

I present to you the BLOSSOM PATCH. A simple spiral rope with beaded flowers attached. The clasp is a bezeled fabric cabochon that with a snap sewn on the back.


Cheryl Norwood
Lake Jackson, Texas

I named it the Birth Of The Butterfly. The little white spots on the leaf are caterpillar eggs, then you have the cocoon hanging from the branch, and the new butterfly that has hatched out on the limb.


Sue Charette-Hood
San Antonio, Texas

Inspired by the love of Super Duos, and wanting to create a “home” for the little polymer butterfly.


Gillian Utting
Gosport, United Kingdom

That butterfly made me jump higher than I have leapt before. What a clever and crazy idea.


What’s next?
Thank you to all the participants of this project. Your ideas have blown me away, and I have enjoyed watching your creativity expand!

I want that for more people, so there will be 20 kits for the next challenge, I will allow more time for shipping to other countries, and more time to complete your project (2 months).

The next challenge will be launched February with a theme of “Fierce!” Animal print daggers, anyone? To get advance notification of the new challenge before anyone else, enter your name and email in the form below. This is a “Challenge-Only” list that is separate from the regular Inner Circle list.

I hope you are inspired to get out those beads, and make some art!


BCP 17 | Bead On with Laura Zeiner

Laura Zeiner has been beading and teaching beadwork for about twelve years and has a passion for putting a contemporary spin on traditional stitches. Nature is a constant theme in her beading and she loves to incorporate uncommon objects and “old things” into her work. She travels around selling her work at various bead& art shows, sometimes up to 15 in a year. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, John, and Ginger, her spoiled-rotten sheltie. In her “spare time”, she can usually be found training for triathlons or playing poker.


In my interview with Laura, we discuss how she developed her freeform style, her advice for newbies just starting show their work, and her participation in Battle of the Beadsmith with a little topless photography thrown in. I hope you enjoy the interview!

Crap I Found In the Road

Laura's Battle piece entitled, Crap I Found In the Road

Show Notes

Enchanted Evenings Bracelet by Laura Zeiner

Enchanted Evenings Bracelet by Laura Zeiner, available as a tutorial, skulls optional

More listening options:

Want to win a Freeform Peyote Bracelet Tutorial from Laura? All you have to do is leave a comment below about anything you learned from the show. Be sure to include your email address and I will choose a winner next week.

Freeform Necklace with Elk Antler by Laura Zeiner

Freeform Necklace with Elk Antler by Laura Zeiner


BCP 16 | Bead Origami with Cindy Holsclaw

CHolsclawCindy Holsclaw is a bead artist and a scientist specializing in beaded art inspired by geometry, chemistry, and biology. Her fascination with new and interesting beading structures permeates her jewelry designs. Cindy’s strong foundation as an academic shapes her writing skills, and she enjoys teaching beadweaving classes across the country. She is an attentive and patient instructor during class, and her beading patterns are fully illustrated and complete with troubleshooting tips and design variations.

In my interview with Cindy, we discuss how molecules & origami became Cindy’s go to inspirations, as well as some tips to help you hone your geometric beady skills.

Enjoy the interview!


Show Notes

Tila Garden Pendant by Cindy Holsclaw

Tila Garden Pendant by Cindy Holsclaw

More listening options:

Want to win a pattern from Cindy? All you have to do is leave a comment below answering this question: Do you have a freeform brain or a geometric brain? Be sure to include your email address and I will randomly select the winner next week. Update: The winner is…Lisa Ballowe! Thanks to all who participated in this discussion, you left some very insightful comments!


Butterfly Exhibition Challenge

My Butterfly Exhibition Challenge Kits are now available!
(Open to 10 participants).


Every time my eyes dance across that quote, I am struck by the potential it reveals. Of what could be forged by myself and anyone reading this. And that our trials ask us to access the Herculean type strength we were born with to morph into a better version of ourselves.

I chose butterflies as the inspiration for this challenge for that reason.

That and they’re pretty ;)

And I have a butterfly with the face of a tiger in its wings tattooed on my back.


What’s an Exhibition Challenge?

Well, I made it up. I wanted to create a safe space for creative expression with beads- no voting, no winners, no prizes. We will celebrate creativity and beading as an art form, and I am excited to promote you and your work! This is the second Exhibition Challenge, and I invite you to check out the stunners from last year’s Ocean-themed challenge.

There are only 10 kits available. Participants must use something from the kit in their beadwork and incorporate beadweaving techniques. Beads from your stash can be included. I will be showcasing each piece on BeadCircle.com along with the artist’s name, story of their piece, and website. Photos of your piece must be submitted by September 15, 2014 to be included in the big reveal exhibition.

Click here to grab your kit!

Ideas for using the inspiration

You can interpret the theme literally or not. You can get ideas from the quote, from the movement of a butterfly, a memory they remind you of, even something the queen of butterflies might wear. Think of words that you associate with butterflies, and create a piece that reflects those words: whimsical, free, transformation, metamorphosis, ballerinas of the animal kingdom, serene, graceful, energy, and ease.

Most importantly, stretch, play, and have fun!


Kit contents:

Small Fabric Cabochon- purple with glitter
Medium Fabric Cabochon- turquoise swirls
4 grams Two-hole Triangles- Matte Turquoise
30 4mm Czech Pearls- Dark Purple
17 Swarovski 4mm bicones- Indicolite
10 grams 11/0 seed beads Aqua Color Lined Neon Green
10 grams 11/0 seed beads Capri Color Lined Purple
10 grams 11/0 seed beads Capri Color Lined Metallic Teal
polymer clay butterfly charm
metal butterfly charm

I’m really excited about offering a different type of challenge and to promote other bead artists and their work. Please message me if you have any questions, and I’m looking forward to seeing your creations!

Peace & Love,

P.S. If you’re scared of challenges, this is for you because its a laid back,
supportive & encouraging space. If you love a challenge, this is for you because
we all want to see how far you’ll push it. Either way, grab a kit before they’re

P.P.S. Photos of your piece must be submitted to mandibeads [!at] gmail. com
by September 15, 2014 be included in the big reveal exhibition.


Crash & Bead: the month of the most fun ever

June flew by like an 8 year old on a roller coaster, hyped up on cotton candy. Amazing and gleeful, but with the inevitable sugar crash as I passed out from exhaustion, smacking my head on the window of the Prius as my husband drove me home from the airport.

My big beady family

My big beady family at the reunion called Bead & Button

On June 1st, I left for Bead & Button. Ralonda and I decided to drive my Prius from Dallas to Milwaukee because we’re crazy like that. I taught 3 classes to some amazing students. I had an overachiever student finish her Andromeda Spike pendant in class! I met a couple of you (readers) at Meet the Teachers and sold a nice chunk of kits.

Fun times at the Calderone Club.

Fun times at the Calderone Club, sooo goood!

I also worked at the Beyond Beadery booth, and ate delicious eggplant fries with some of my favorite people. I got all dressed up for the Toho Party and had the best time drinking martinis and taking selfies with more of my favorite people. I bought a ton of Maku Raku. I laughed so much I cried, and came home really inspired to design.

This is my favorite picture from B&B 2014, and the rest are in this album on Facebook.

Laughing it up- Melissa Grakowsky Shippee, me, Laura Ziener, and Jill McKay

Laughing it up- Melissa Grakowsky Shippee, me, Laura Ziener, and Jill McKay

When I returned I had ONE day and then left to teach at the Tyler Bead Retreat. This time it was me, Ralonda, and my friend Karen Williams from Seattle.

3 teachers and my Prius: me, Ralonda, and Karen

3 teachers and my Prius: me, Ralonda, and Karen

I taught my new Ratan Bangle for the first time, and had a full class of 20! Ralonda and I also co-taught our first collaboration piece. When I wasn’t teaching I was working on my doll named Destiny. More retreat photos in this album on Facebook.

Our table, and I'm working on my doll named Destiny

Our table, and I'm working on my doll named Destiny

After I got back from that trip, it was time to get ready for the cruise! I had bronchitis on our honeymoon cruise, so six years later we had the opportunity for a re-do with friends. “Swim with the dolphins” has now been crossed off my bucket list.

Cody and me swimming with Reggae the Jamaican dolphin.

Cody and me swimming with Reggae, the Jamaican dolphin

After that trip, I had ONE day before I flew to Cleveland, Ohio to film 2 TV segments for Beads, Baubles and Jewels with Katie Hacker. She interviewed me about my podcast, tips for creative people, and I showed how to create my fabric cabochons and bezel them with seed beads. That night, a few of us gals from this series went to the home of Kieu Pham Gray for a delicious dinner and bubble tea!

Katie Hacker and me on the set of Beads, Baubles and Jewels.

Katie Hacker and me on the set of Beads, Baubles and Jewels

For beaders interested in my fabric cabochons, I created some mix bags which can be found here in my etsy shop.

After that trip I flew home, and my husband picked me up. In the split second before falling asleep and smacking my head I thought “Wow, if this is June, I wonder what July and August will be like!”


BCP 15 | Albion Stitch with Heather Kingsley-Heath

Heather Kingsley-HeathHeather Kingsley-Heath is a beadworker living and working in England She the creator of Albion stitch, a new beading technique, and has published two books on the stitch with a third, and much anticipated, book now in production. Her work has been featured in Perlen Poesie, Beadwork, Bead and many other magazines. As a tutor, Heather is a kind, patient, lively, and inspiring teacher, generous with her design processes and techniques.

In the interview, she tells the story of how she developed Albion stitch, and we discuss teaching philosophy, her first visit to the US, and go down a few rabbit holes of inspiration. I hope you enjoy the interview!

Spinning Wave Pendant

Show Notes:

Little Owl by Heather Kingsley-Heath

Little Owl by Heather Kingsley-Heath

More listening options:

Want to win Heather’s Little Owl pattern? All you have to do is leave a comment below about the show. Be sure to include your email address and I will choose the winner next week. Update: Congrats to Beth Wolland for winning the owl pattern!


Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal


As soon as I saw the beautiful fused glass piece, I immediately had a vision of what it would become. From the technique (my favorite-freeform peyote) to the shape and the strap, to it’s happy essence, I followed my intuition. This necklace is the result and I am very pleased! I clocked this one at 19.5 hours.


This is the bead soup sent by my lovely swap partner Judy Robinson. I poured out a small portion of the seed beads for the photo. She also made me a lovely wood turned bowl which I love! I’m excited to use the copper beads in another piece, but I haven’t gotten that far yet. Thanks, Judy!


This is my sketch and the beginning of the necklace. I used the colors of the fused glass as a guide.


Here it is beginning to take shape. It did go through an ugly duckling stage where I hated it, hehe. I kept going and asked the beads where the wanted to be.

There were nearly 500 participants for the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party, and all the links can be found on the main page here. Please continue to hop and enjoy all the beautiful creations, and thanks to Lori for all her hard work organizing!


BCP 14 | The Glory Days of Beading with Jeannette Cook

jeannettepic Jeannette Cook is a nationally recognized bead artist and workshop instructor and owner of Beady Eyed Women®. She has been working with beads as an art form since 1968. Jeannette is one of the nation’s original beadwork instructors. Students have described her as: “Inspiring, fun, spirit freeing. Jeannette along with a former partner have written and self published six popular beading books. She has taught all over the US and in Japan, and her work has been published in numerous magazines in books.

In my interview with Jeannette, we discuss the early days of the beading business, her signature class called Mastering the Curl, and her experience using Big Cartel to sell her kits online. I hope you enjoy the interview.

Mastering the Curl by Jeannette Cook

Show Notes

Cityscape Cuff by Jeannette Cook

Cityscape Cuff by Jeannette Cook

More listening options:

What do you think? I want to know what you think of “hippie style.” Are you drawn to bright, happy colors? If not, what colors resonate with you the most.
Have other thoughts about the show? Please share with us in the comments!


BCP 13 | Romantic Beading with Melissa Shippee

melissa_grakowskyIt is an honor to introduce my guest, Melissa Grakowsky Shippee. She originated from and still resides in the rolling hills of Connecticut. She received a BFA in Painting and a BS in Physics from the University of Connecticut in 2006. Since then, she has discovered the world of beadwork and fallen in love with this art form. As the graphics coordinator for Beads East, she learned most of the bead stitches by writing beadwork instructions.

Melissa created an award-winning beaded mask, created several more in the collection, and went on to teach a full workshop on the technique at
B&B 2013. She is drawn to crystals, metallic beads, and contrasting colors. One of her primary design principles is to have some form of self-similarity on all scales, an idea pulled from mathematics and nature.

Queen Isabella's Sceptre Lariat being taught at B&B by Melissa Shippee

Queen Isabella's Sceptre Lariat being taught at B&B by Melissa Shippee

In my interview with Melissa, we discuss her gorgeous beaded masks, her book I Can Herringbone: From Basic Stitch to Advanced Techniques, and her new venture, Bead Elves. I hope you enjoy the interview.


Show Notes

More listening options:

Want to win a kit or tutorial from Melissa? All you have to do is leave a comment answering the question: What word would you use to describe your style? Be sure to include your email address and if you are in the U.S. or an international beader. We will randomly select the winners next week. Good Luck!

Giveaway update: The winners have been chosen, and congrats to Lisa Ballowe and Carol Hitchcock! Check your email inbox with instructions for how to claim your prizes. Big thanks to all who entered!


The Joy of Designing


Neva over at the Bead Mavens wrote an excellent post on Challenges, Competitions, and Inspiration. I invite you to give it a read, and I have a few things to add to her wonderful suggestions.

If you are anything like me, and get stuck in “I’ll never make anything as good as that” zone when you finally sit down to design- stay away from looking at other people’s beadwork.

Instead of letting your creativity flow, you can accidentally create a block for yourself. I know, because I’ve done it myself. It’s only when I step away, and look at what inspires me and my voice do I find success.

Looking at vintage, fine, or costume jewelry is ok for me, since its not beading, I can separate and admire the shape, the color, or the composition. I also love photography websites like 500px.com or recordings of runway shows. When you find that thing for you that makes you grab your notebook and record your ideas before you lose them- well that’s your home, and you can always go back to that place for inspiration.

What is the theme of your work? Nature, bold, organic, calming, fringey? Look at your pieces and think- “what am I good at, what do I love about my work,and where do I want to take it.” Then, you can be true to you, and design from that place versus looking at all the gorgeous stuff that other people have created.

Like the quote at the top of the page says, Comparison is the Thief of Joy. So I’ve taught myself to not compare when designing, to go everywhere for inspiration except for what has already been created in beadwork, and go straight for the joy of creating.

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