‘Me’ Time with Mirrix Looms


I have a soft spot in my heart for looming since the first beading I did was when my grandma passed down her loom to me. I would love to get back to it and see this side of beading flourish. So, I am excited to share this contest from Mirrix Looms:

Everyone has their ‘me’ time. For some it’s a relaxing bubble bath and for others a long walk. For many of us, though, ‘me’ time happens at the bead table. We find solace in making. We find inspiration in creating. We need this time to nurture our souls and to take some of the stress out of everyday life.

For Mirrix Looms’ latest contest, they ask you to describe how creating art is your ‘me’ time. This is not limited to weaving fiber or beads. Any art counts. Speak from the heart. They will have five guest judges from the bead and tapestry communities pick the top twenty entries and the public will vote for their favorite out of those. Start dreaming up your answers!

Click here for the official rules and enter to get your hands on an 8 inch Lani Loom with Shedding Device! ($225 value) Entries due by midnight (PT) 8/31/2013.


Ocean Exhibition Challenge

My Ocean Exhibition Challenge Kits are now available! (Open to 8 participants)

I recently went on a vacation with my family to the beach, and it was the first time I stuck my toes in the sand in 5 years! When I was growing up we went every year, and I’ve gotten away from that now that I live in Dallas. I was reminded me of how soothing I find the ocean: the sounds of crashing waves, the warm sand, dolphin watching, relaxation, peace. It’s the perfect inspiration for a challenge.


This will be an exhibition challenge- no voting, no winners, no prizes. We will celebrate creativity and beading as an art form. There are only eight seven kits available. Participants must use something from the kit in their beadwork and incorporate beadweaving techniques. 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 August 31, 2013 to be included in the big reveal exhibition.


Kit contents:

  • “Ocean Currents” lampwork bead by Bonnie Beard
  • 20 Swarovski 4mm bicones- Indicolite
  • 20 Swarovski 4mm bicones- Aquamarine
  • 20 Swarovski 4mm bicones- White Opal
  • 10 grams TOHO 11/0 seed beads White Lined Aqua
  • 10 grams TOHO 11/0 seed beads Luminous Soft Blue Lined Crystal
  • 10 grams TOHO 11/0 seed beads White Lined Crystal

I’m really excited about offering a different type of challenge and to promote other bead artists and their work. Priority shipping is included, and I’m limiting this first one to U.S. residents. Please message me if you have any questions, and I’m looking forward to seeing your creations!

Update: Woohoo! All the kits for the Ocean Exhibition Challenge have been sold and shipped or hand delivered. Big thank you to the participants!! I’m so excited and I can’t wait for the big reveal.


BCP 10 | Geometric Beadwork with Kate McKinnon

Kate Hat Red WebIn my interview with Kate McKinnon, we discuss architecture, self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, and the ever morphing concepts in her latest work, Contemporary Geometric Beadwork. I hope you enjoy the interview!

54 days until the Bead & Button Show! I want to have a Bead Circle meetup of some kind where we all have lunch or dinner. I would love to meet listeners in person and hear your ideas and opinions. If you will be attending the show and want to meetup, email me at mandi@beadcircle.com. I will get back to everyone with the date and time after I see how many are interested.

Dino Exercise Wheel


Christina Vandervlist layout

More listening options:

Layers in progress Kate McKinnon 2013

Want to win a copy of Contemporary Geometric Beadwork? All you have to do is leave a comment answering this question:

“What building or natural structure inspires you the most?”

Include links to your images because Kate will also create a piece of beadwork using the winner’s inspiration! Be sure to include your email address and I will choose the winner next Thursday.

Update: The winner of the copy of Contemporary Geometric Beadwork is Ronel Durandt! Kate was grateful to be reminded about the biological sketches of Ernst Haeckel. I agree, fabulous inspiration!


[Video] 9 Essential Items For Beaders

I know many of my readers are intermediate to advanced beaders, but I want to have some more posts on the basics so we can corrupt invite beginners into our community and help them get started.

[leadplayer_vid id=”514B472E60546″]

  1. Project Box– Helps keep you organized and its portable if you want to take your projects with you. I prefer Snap ‘N Stack.
  2. Beads– Many basic projects can be completed using only size 11 seed beads. I have several free projects using a variety of beads that are suitable for beginners.
  3. Needles– Most of mine are size 10 or 12, and I’m not too picky on the brand. Size 12 has a bigger eye, and a good size to start with. I forgot to mention Tulip needles, which are stronger and don’t bend as easily. Those are great if you use them before you lose them.
  4. Thread– experiment and figure out what you like best. I prefer One G or K.O. but many beaders I know like Fireline. It’s a fishing line that is carried at sporting good stores and bead shops. I think 6lb clear would be a good choice to start with.
  5. Scissors– Sharp scissors are essential for thread, but grab a pair of cheap, kid-friendly scissors for Fireline.
  6. Scoop– I was beading for years and years before I discovered this! Really does make clean up a snap.
  7. Pen– For writing notes on your instructions, or sketches for ideas. I always have sticky notes or a sketch pad around, but any napkin will do. To make your own beaded pen like in the video, sign up for my email newsletter, and download the free Beaded pens eBook.
  8. Bead Mat– I use to put my beads in little dishes, but the bead mat keeps them from rolling all over the place. The case I referred to in the video is called a Design Save ‘N Go and you can check out my review on them here.
  9. Good Lighting– Essential to reduce eye strain and keep you beading longer and more comfortably. I love my Ott light! When you are choosing beads for your project, you want to look at them in good light to really see if you like how the colors play together.

Aside from the Ott light and the projects box, I can find everything at my local bead store. I would encourage you to choose your LBS first because they can also share their wealth of knowledge as you learn.

What do you think? What do you think of my list? Is there anything you would add? Please share with us in the comments below. I read and appreciate each one!


BCP 09 | Inspiration to Design with Met Innmon

In my interview with Met Innmon, we discuss taking a idea from inspiration to design, the ping-pong effect of design collaboration, and the cool classes she will be teaching at Bead & Button. I hope you enjoy the interview.

Jolie Navette bracelet and ring by Met Innmon

Show Notes

Ribbon Arches Bracelet by Met Innmon

Ribbon Arches Bracelet by Met Innmon

More listening options:

Midnight Magic "3-fer" class with Met Innmon

Midnight Magic class with Met Innmon, the 3-fer

Love the show? Leave a review in iTunes! You can do it in three easy steps:

1) Go here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/bead-circle-podcast/id430261296

2) Click View in iTunes

3) Click Ratings and Reviews, then Write a Review. Thanks!

What do you think? Where do you get your inspiration? Do you sketch out your designs, or just start beading? Both? Please share with us in the comments!


“Choose Your Own Adventure” Freeform Peyote Reveal Day

Freeform Peyote Challenge

Welcome Adventurers!

I’m so excited about today’s reveal. Karen Williams and I hatched this crazy scheme when I interviewed her for the podcast. I love the way she tells stories as she beads and has her own adventure, and I wanted more people to have as much fun as we were having!

I figured there’d be about 10 of us, but 36 fabulous beaders have accepted the challenge to play with freeform and post what they come up with. An active Freeform Peyote Facebook Group has also sprouted, and we would love for you to join us!

Moving Mountains

My ideas kept melding and shifting together throughout this process. First of all, I wanted to do freeform with spikes. I got the color inspiration from the Operation Tackle That Bead Stash challenge– use blue and brown, and there was a photo of Alaska’s Denali. I got out all my beads to start my simple bracelet, when BAM- inspiration hit me like a ton of bricks!


It morphed into a crazy, ambitious necklace! It took on the shape of the United States like if you cut it out of butter and let it melt a bit, hehe. All the textured freeform become the terrain, and I could move my mountains (baby spikes) wherever I wanted. There are about 8 of them embedded in the piece. I lined up my work with the sketch to help guide me in creating the shape.


I still have the neck straps and chains to finish, and I’m going back in to work on it after I finish this post. I just added up my time in Google calendar, and I’ve clocked 33 hours on this piece so far!


Below are my chain samples to help me choose the right combination. I’m hoping to choose the final chains and finish it up today. Then I can post the done picture!

chain sample

Update: I’ve finished the necklace, but now that I’ve photographed it, I think I might add one more strap up top. I will say I’m very proud of the result!


I would like to invite you to admire the other pieces created for this challenge! Here is the list of participants:

Adventure Guides
Mandi Ainsworth– you are here
Karen Williams

Inspired Adventurers
Bobbie Rafferty
Sarah Meadows
Katherine Gale
Leanne Kirsch
Jean Hutter

Nancy Dale
Judy Riley
Natasha Wiegelman
Pam Chesbro
Romana Tschunko

Bette Greenfield
Mary Harding
Melody Marie Murray
Shirley Moore

Sally Russick
Therese Frank
Tanya Goodwin
Christine Altmiller
Lea Paličková
Ivona Šuchmannová

Kay Haynes
Tammy Bowman
Alisa Lehman
Lori Callahan
Debbie Rasmussen

Jane Kettley
SaraBeth Cullinan
Tami Norris
Julie Schmidt Bowen
Tammi Clapper
Cynthia Machata


Beading With Anxiety?!

Beading with anxiety-or not beading because of it. Kind of crazy to think about, but it’s happened to me and I’ve seen it in others.

I’ve touched on this topic in a podcast episode about the other benefits you get from entering beading contests, and again when I broke away from my own fear in my post, Design Like A 12 Year Old.

    This is what made me want to write about it again:

  • our bead society had a challenge and only 3 people entered- why give up an opportunity to grow, have fun, and be creative?
  • a beader on FB commented that she was glad she didn’t even try to submit something- what if yours was one of the few accepted?
  • seen many times: after seeing that, I don’t want to share mine- every artist has their first day, you will grow from sharing

Cynthia of Jewelry Tales wrote a fantastic post on why she enters beading contests, and its not about winning. She says they bring out her daredevil: “It’s about flying. Flying without a net. Beading on the edge. Giving myself permission to not remember what I did; giving myself permission to play. It’s me time.”

Wow! I love her approach and enthusiasm! So why do some feel held back? I think it starts with the attitude and approach of the individual beader.

Bead Courageously, then Detach

That sums up the method to my madness. The photo above is a piece I’m working on for Bead Dreams. I think its ambitious and cool, and it will light up, hehe. I did not start it as a piece I would submit. I chose to enter because I don’t have that many larger pieces in my body of work, and I needed a deadline! I know I have to finish and get it photographed by March 26, 2013.

After I finish the piece, I will let it go, to be loved or hated, and judged as all things are. It’s not for me to worry if its accepted, it’s up to me to do the work, to follow my inspiration from beginning to end. This process helps me grow as an artist. If its accepted, I do the happy dance! If it’s not accepted still, I do the happy dance because I know I’m one step closer to my Ninth Symphony. After all, even Beethoven had to write symphonies 1 and 2 etc, before his famous ninth. You can’t “skip” the things that don’t work out.

If you read nothing else, read this- There will always be some kind of fear. Courage isn’t about not being scared. It’s about feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. That is how we grow. The stuff that freaks us out today will be tomorrow’s laugh.

Dealing with Rejection

Sarah of Saturday Sequins, wrote a fabulous post, Don’t Give Up! It’s all about how she deals with rejection and the things she tells herself, and I encourage everyone to give it a read. Sarah says that its not personal and has mercy on the jurors. Bead Dreams can only accept so many pieces, and if they had room to take them all, they probably would. Everything is so good, and I’m so glad I don’t have their job. To separate the field, I imagine they have to find nit picky little details, or start finding things they can relate to. Maybe a certain piece triggers a certain memory, or uses their favorite color palette? It could be anything, so its much easier not to take it personally when you come at it from their perspective.

Get out those beads and make some art.

This is my sign off to the podcast because my hope is that you are inspired- but it doesn’t stop there. I want you (and myself) to take action and follow through on whatever ideas may come. I’ll leave you with a fabulous TED talk and two of my favorite Emmerson quotes:

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they be executed.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Links to beading contests and their deadlines

What do you think? Does any of this resonate with you? Do you have any insights to share? Please share with us in the comments below. I read and appreciate each one!


Bringin Looming Back: Win A Loom!


I started my beading career with a loom at age 12. My FB friend Erin Simonetti has been posting some crazy gorgeous loomed cuffs, and as the photos pass through my feed, I’m really inspired to pick it up again! Then, Mirrix announced this contest, and I had to share.

Win an 8″ Mirrix Lani Loom!

Always wanted to try weaving beads or tapestry? Ready to upgrade your loom? Mirrix Tapestry & Bead Looms is giving away a loom to one lucky entrant in their latest contest. What do you have to do to enter? Be creative!

Create a piece of art with up to ten words that answers this question: What inspires you to create art? The piece of art you create can be of any medium, or mixed mediums, but must be an original work of art by the entrant.

This contest is all about creativity, originality and sharability. You can see the current entries here.

Visit Mirrix’s website for more details on other prizes, the panel of judges, how to win and the official rules!

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BCP 08 | Interview with Kerrie Slade

In my interview with Kerrie Slade, we discuss beading in only one color, dragons, and the true meaning of whimsy. I hope you enjoy the interview!

To the right, I’ve selected two photos from Kerrie’s Midnight Garden Collection. See more on her Facebook page.


I want to give a big thanks to our sponsor, The Bead Shop! They have all the beads to feed your addiction, and tools for Jewellery Making, too! Check them out and support a business that supports the show.


More listening options:

Want to win the Rivoli Daisy Tutorial designed by Kerrie? All you have to do is leave a comment below and answer the question: “If you could only bead in one color, what color would you choose?” Be sure to include your email address and I will randomly select the winner next week.

Update: And the winner of Kerrie’s pattern is… Mary Kearney! Congrats! Thanks everyone for your lovely comments :)


Using Beads To Make A Change

Corset Cuff and my new heart rate monitor

Beads helped me quit smoking

I quit smoking on August 31, 2009. I did it cold turkey because I was ready, and wanted to do it for myself, but it never hurts to have added motivation. On day 4, I posted an update to Facebook, saying it was going well so far. Marcia DeCoster mentioned to me that when she quit, she would use the money she saved not buying cigarettes to buy herself flowers. I did that the first week, but then I decided I would buy more beads! The hardest part was breaking the habit of smoking and driving. When I’d get a bad craving, I’d drive past the gas station to Artful Bead and claim my prize, a shiny new tube of beads. It worked wonders and 2 months later, the worst cravings had subsided.

Fat Lady on a Diet

My FB friend, Sig Wynne-Evans (also of Traveling Bracelets fame) is using beads to help her lose weight. She is chronicling her progress on her new Facebook page, Fat Lady on a Diet, and she’s been sharing motivational quotes, pictures, and fitness tips she discovers. For the next 30 weeks, her goal is to lose 1 pound a week. For every pound that she doesn’t lose, she’s going to giveaway a 100 gm bag of beads. That is some serious motivation! Please join us on her page to cheer her on and maybe get some motivation for your own fitness goals.

My Beady Fitness Challenge: Insanity!

Sig has inspired me, and I want some leverage to help me stick with my Insanity workout. The workouts are 6 days a week (one is “easier”) and I’ve just finished day 2 of 60. The rules are simple. For every day I don’t do my scheduled workout, I’m going to giveaway one of my kits. I’ll post updates here and on the Bead Circle Facebook page.

There is a recovery week between month 1 and 2 and it’s the second half I’m really nervous about. I need to do a few modifications so I don’t injure my wrist again, and I’ll probably have started my new full-time job. I haven’t worked full-time in years, so this will be a big change! My reward will be a new swimsuit and the free Insanity t-shirt they offer for submitting before and after photos.

Please comment below with any motivation, and to receive a kit should I miss a day. Thanks for your help!


Day 2- Cardio Power workout. This is tough, but today I have thrown down the gauntlet by making this public. I can do it! Also, using my new Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor has been helpful in deciding when I need to slow down (heart rate is too high) and when I need to “dig deeper” (heart rate is in range-keep going).

Day 3- My calves were screaming, so I soaked in an Epsom salt bath. Today I did Cardio Recovery, which is stretching, yoga, and some moves I used to do all the time in dance class. Calves still screaming. Ready for tomorrow.

Day 4- Did the Pure Cardio workout today. As I’m lying on the floor, shirt soaked with sweat, and I hear Shaun T. say “That sh** was bananas, ya’ll” I feel like Superwoman.

Day 5- Plyometric Cardio Circuit. Awesome workout, today! I also purchased the book, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.

Day 6- Off day, woohoo! Except instead of beading all day I cleaned all day. Feels great to have a clean house :)

Day 7- Cardio Power. Still doing girly push-ups, but I’ll get there.

Day 8- Pure Cardio. I can already feel a difference in my cardio since I can do more before my heart rate gets high.

Day 9- Plyometric Cardio Circuit. Decided to start eating spinach omelets for breakfast and threw away all my sugary, carb loaded cereal. Had great energy for my workout!

Day 10- Cardio Recovery. No cardio but the exercises make my muscles burn.

Day 11- Cardio Power. Wow, today was harder and I had to keep stopping whenever because of cramps. I truly employed “Do your best and forget the rest.” I will be drinking more water now.

Day 12- Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs. Today they tack on 16 minutes of abs, and I couldn’t do everything. I felt the burn though and that’s what counts.

Day 13- Rest day. Feels good to let my body recover a bit :)

Day 14- Fit test.

Day 15- Plyometric Cardio Circuit. Started getting a cramp during warm-up. Instead of pushing thru, I drank water, waited half an hour or so, then started back up. Then, I had an awesome workout with no cramps, yay!

Day 16- Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs. I did my workout today even though I really didn’t feel like. It’s the hardest one on the list. Victory is mine!

Day 17- Cardio recovery. I can tell my flexibility and balance are both improving.

Day 18- Cardio Power. Today I tried to get in my workout quick. As my necklace banged around, and my bangs fell in my face, I realized preparation is key. Got some bobby pins at the next break, pushed through, felt amazing.

Day 19- Rest. ahhhh…

Day 20- Plyometric Cardio Circuit. The workout after rest day is always awesome.

Day 21- Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs. Victory! Today I did the whole 10 min warm-up without stopping! Yup, its that insane.

Day 22- Cardio Power. I think I’m gettin the hang of this one because today I was like “Bring it!”

Day 23- Plyometric Cardio Circuit. I can feel my calves and shins starting to ache a bit today, so I’m glad tomorrow is a recovery day.

Day 24- Cardio Recovery. Was doing really great on my Paleo-style eating (no bread or dairy, meat and veggies only) when I decided to have pizza last night. Today I feel hungover and low energy, and I know its from the bread! I’m amazed at the difference I feel.

Day 25- Pure Cardio. Decent workout. I’m starting to get that shin splint feeling, and that usually means its time to buy new athletic shoes.

Day 26- Plyometric Cardio Circut. New shoes made a big difference today! Great workout.

Day 27- Rest day. I have finished month 1 and next week is recovery week before I start month 2.

Day 28- Core Cardio & Balance. Shaun T. says take it easy this week, but this one still makes me sweat and makes muscles burn.

Day 29- CC&B. Didn’t sleep well last night and it definitely affected my workout. Another victory- I am now one day past where I quit last time!

Day 30- CC&B. Did a little better, I can really feel it in my abs.

Day 31- CC&B. Extremely low energy today, but I pushed through best I could.

Day 32- CC&B. Today’s workout was a 180 compared to yesterday! Feeling awesome! Difference? Could be food, weather, sleep, or something else. I’m not sure what.

Day 33- Rest Day

Day 34- Rest Day

Day 35- Max Interval Circuit. Wow, Shaun T. is a little meaner in this one, and its a lot harder. I debated turning off the video twice, and started doubting if I could do this. I decide to just do my best and I can only get better from here.

Day 36- Max Interval Plyo. Sore from yesterday so that means I’m getting a good workout even though I couldn’t do everything. Also, there’s a girl named Mandi is this one :)

Day 37- Max Cardio Conditioning. This one’s tough but fun!

Day 38- Max Recovery.

Day 39- Max Interval Circuit. Easier than the last time.

Day 40- Rest Day

Day 41- Max Interval Plyo. Still have to substitute some moves but I can always feel my muscles working.

Day 42- Max Cardio Conditioning. I was ready to keep going when the workout was over, hehe. Then I noticed this is the shortest one in the max series.

Day 43- Max Interval Circuit. Today I noticed how much strength I have really gained! Even though the scale doesn’t seem to be moving, I’ve lost a half inch off my waist and I have solid no longer flabby legs.

Day 44- Max Interval Plyo. Butt kicked.

Day 45- Max Recovery. Recovery my a**!

Day 46- Rest day.

Day 47- Max Cardio Conditioning & Cardio Abs. Feeling pretty awesome after this workout.

Day 48- Core Cardio & Balance. Funny how this one seems easy now.

Day 49- Max Interval Circuit. Well, today was different. I stopped before the second circuit and wondered why the hell am I doing this when I haven’t seen much progress. How the hell did that girl lose 37 pounds in 60 days doing this? Watched some motivational videos for awhile and then finished the workout.

Day 50- Max Interval Plyo. I noticed my shins were starting to ache which I know from experience playing lacrosse that its a sign of over-training. I’ll just insert an extra rest day and keep going.

Day 51- Rest Day.

Day 52- Max Cardio Conditioning & Cardio Abs.