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Author Archive: Kate on The Blog

Craft Nite (round 2) With Chain Maille!

Posted by Kate on May 23 at 02:47 pm

The two things that stress me out the most here in bead-land are probably the mere mention of seed beads (we carry over 1100!) and/or chain maille. There’s so many LITTLE pieces! My fine motor skills have never been stellar (though I can type 75 wpm, does that count?) and all these little rings and beads can feel overwhelming. Anyone else get anxiety like that??

So when Kadie told me we were launching Weave Got Maille kits and suggested we try it out for another craft night, I was a little dubious. But as I considered her proposal, I figured this was something I could handle. After all, a kit has all the materials you’d need to make the picture on the box AND it has step by step instructions. (Also, they are bracelet-making kits, so I hoped to have a finished product in no time. It helps to have that positive sense of accomplishment early on when pursuing something new).


Challenge Accepted

Craft Night supplies

*Note: do not wreck your chain nose pliers by trying to pry off a bottle cap, please use a bottle opener for safety ;-)

Kadie and I gathered our materials and because of the SUPER nice Michigan weather we’ve been having, we sat out on my front porch. People watching, pizza eating, and chain-mailling ensued. :) We noticed there was no warning on the kits for Beginner, Advanced, or Expert– so we had no choice but to jump right in and select a kit based solely on looks. Kadie chose the Byzantine bracelet because she liked the intricacies of the rings connecting. I chose the Shaggy Loop bracelet because it had seed beads in it (kill two birds with one stone right!?).


Jump Rings!Now, I must admit, beading outside was THE BEST. Fresh air, friendly folks, birds singing, and being so close to the green grass helped me totally forget how crazy all these tiny pieces make me. I know, I know, folks often feel most comfortable in their little beading den, which is fine. But have you ever been outside? It’s great. I took a tip from one of our customers and brought out an old cookie sheet. Because my kit had the seed beads, I also brought out a dishtowel to serve as my beading mat (pretty inventive, right?). Being overwhelmed by the sizes, gauges, and types of jump rings was totally cut out of the picture with these kits. Upon opening, we found each type of ring in its own separate bag– made organization so easy! Then, my favorite part…the directions!! All we had to provide were the pliers. Kadie and I found ourselves using a mish-mash of different types of pliers, but decided using chain nose pliers without ridges was the best. It seriously cut down on ‘marring’ the rings. (At one point I started in with a pair of pliers from my travel tool box– thanks, Dad!– and while they held the rings well, the “grips” on there really dug into the jump rings).

Down to Business

Kadie's off to a great start!Kadie got off to a great start. With over 200 rings before her and a first instruction of “open all your jump rings,” she was a little exasperated. But WOW. Be sure to listen to that first instruction! It makes it so much easier to get into a groove while chain maille-ing! It seemed like a silly instruction– and why not open while you go?– trust us, these Weave Got Maille people know what they’re doing! My kit didn’t have nearly as many rings as Kadie’s, but it did have the seed beads. I actually snatched a few other colors from Lima Beads’ stash because I wanted to make a Michigan State themed bracelet…so I needed some greens to go with the included whites. :-D

After about an hour, we had definitely made some progress: all our jump rings had been opened, we started in on the patterns given us, AND we had nearly polished off a whole pizza (mmmm!). Alas, the sun was setting so we had to move the operation indoors. My living room coffee table hosted our very portable cookie sheet cum beading tray and we were back at the assembly.

Using pliers

Kate, trying not to go cross-eyed and facing her fears!

 Wrap Up

All in all, these little kits were great. It provided all materials (except pliers). It explained things clearly. And it made some pretty fancy looking jewelry! A mere three hours and what an accomplishment! Kadie thinks her bracelet was a little more difficult than mine… because it involved a little extra ‘weaving’ rather than just open/close of the jump rings. However, the instructions taught her how to do it. If a couple of novices could handle it, I think you can too! If you’ve ever been curious about chain maille, but overwhelmed by where to start, these little kits will set you up right and get you on the path to making your own tie-dyed-t-shirt (thanks, Pinterest!) in no time!! (No joke- we’ve got tons of multi-colored rings, perfect for a tie-dye project!)

Craft Nite Success!

Happy crafting!

Kate & Kadie Craft Nite

Posted by Kate on January 31 at 01:45 pm

I think it’s fair to say that Ali has earned her position as “Creative Director” here at Lima Beads, right? We’re all pretty enamored with the designs, concepts, and color pairings she comes up with. Sometimes, though, I look out into our warehouse at all these components, just begging to be made into a beautiful piece of jewelry and I think, “What can I make outta this?!” I tend to be all thumbs when it comes to the fine-motor skills of jewelry making. Not to mention (ask Kadie) my attention span is somewhat lacking in the length department.

A Craft Nite is born

Kadie and I decided it was time to put some of these tips, techniques and design inspirations to the test by holding our own crafting night to see if a) we could follow directions enough to make something someone might actually want to wear; and b) see if Kate could actually finish a project instead of hiding one more half-finished project under the living room coffee table…

We started by picking a project: the Anchor Bracelet. Nautically themed & classy. Our friends at TierraCast had posted a video to YouTube teaching us how to make a couple knots and voila! An easy 5-minute bracelet! (In actuality it took Kadie the prescribed 5 minutes, while Kate spent most of the time trying to select which color leather cord to use…her total time came to approx 13-minutes. But no crying! So that’s good :) ).

It just feels good to actually get a project completed, doesn’t it? Sometimes I feel like we all need a little “quick and easy” project to re-calibrate our creativity and talents. To get us over any lingering “winter-blahs”. Or to simply have a starting point from which to embellish and re-invent. So, I know it’s a little late (the first month, nearly over), but Kate & Kadie craft nights are going to be our New Year’s resolution. To try to carve out time from our busy day-jobs and get crafty ;) What’s your favorite Q&E project? Or is that asking to reveal too great of secret?

Here’s the video from TierraCast on how to make the soon-to-be-very famous Anchor Bracelet:

And here’s Kadie following instructions like a pro:

Our finished products:


What you’ll need to make the bracelet:

1.5mm leather cord

A TierraCast Anchor pendant (antique brass, gunmetal, antique silver)

A large hole bead (we found the bead used in the video to be a little too small). Here’s our suggestion:


A dab of Hypo Cement (or any other adhesive)


Introducing: Liz Chumtong, of Saki Silver

Posted by Kate on November 15 at 01:57 pm

Saki SilverHear Ye, Here Ye

Today is a big day. We’re introducing a new Artist to our line-up and she’s got a suitcase full of really cool metal pieces with her. You may have heard of Saki Silver by name before, but you’re in luck today because we’ve got an exclusive interview with the Sultina of Silver, all the way from Thailand: Liz Chumtong.

The Meat & Potatoes

Q. What sort of pieces/offerings should we be expecting from the Saki line?

A. White bronze is our new feature! It looks a lot like silver but is half the price. It blends well with other metals, so people are really enjoying it’s versatility. And we are always working on new designs. This spring we’ll bring out a new line of charms, as well as some fun new earring findings.


Q. What exactly does “metal working” (“silver smith-ing”?) entail?

A. There are many facets to what we do. The first step is to design a piece and get a master made. This can entail hours, even days working on one piece by hand, getting it just right. There are 3 of us who design and often times we collaborate. Sometimes the process is as simple as drawing a design and getting a wax mold carved, and we just cast from that. Most of our findings are made using lost wax casting, and then hand finished. The earwires are made by hand so that requires our silversmiths to do a lot of tedious work, as they make each tiny ball one by one, and solder them to the wire. My sister-in-law, P Boo, makes the majority of the earwires.


Q. We’ve been seeing the word “Shibuichi” more and more in our jewelry world. What’s the big deal??

A. Shibuichi is a copper/silver alloy that has been used in Japan since the 8th century for jewelry making. It has become popular in the art jewelry world because it is so unusual in color, and the finish can vary depending on how it’s made. I think most of us learned from artist Bob Burkett, who has been making shibuichi for many years, and he’s always very generous in sharing his expertise. At our studio, Nui is the shibu master, and no one touches it but him.


Q. Waking up every day facing mounds of metal, what things keep you inspired and fresh in your designs?

A. My inspiration comes from all over. Sometimes  I awake at 3AM and have a design I need to sketch. Sometimes I get architectural books, or other design books for reference. And sometimes designs pop in my head, like one day I was at the beach with the kids, and I ended up designing a line inspired by water and bubbles and waves.

Sometimes I ask my head silversmith to come up with something new and interesting, and the things he comes up with!!!! He’s very creative and isn’t exposed much to the US bead market, so his perspective is fresh and very unique.


Q. OK, quick! The first three things that come to mind when you hear the word “SILVER”:

A. This is a tough one. But honestly: Saki, Family, Life

This word is very powerful for me. It’s how I met my husband, Sak, selling silver on the street. It’s how I raised my children, and it’s my passion. I remember the first time I walked into a wholesale silver shop in Bangkok as a teenager. I thought, “This is what I want to do”. I remember how inspired I was by all the beautiful designs, as well as by the sheer magnitude of the shop itself. It’s still how I feel when I walk down the aisle at a bead show, and I’m just thankful to be a part of it.


Q. If you weren’t in the business you’re in, what would you do? (AKA what are your other hobbies & passions)

A. Sak has had a life long dream of creating a “chill lounge” on the beach in Thailand, and he has, in fact, just opened one on a small island in southern Thailand. So for now I’m here running the business, but once the kids are grown, you just might find me on that same beach, and if it had to be something other than jewelry, I’d probably have a restaurant with lots of organic, homegrown veggies and home-raised chicken, and fresh seafood right from the ocean.


Last but not least,

Q. If you played Major League Baseball, what would your “coming up to bat” song be?

A. Here’s where you’ve got me! I don’t know what that means but I’m guessing it means what song pumps me up and inspires me. Ohhh so many. Sak loves music so we have a massive music library, with lots of world music and every other kind you can think of! Here are a few that have always made me want to get up and conquer the world!

  • Boom Boom Pow
  • Eye of the Tiger
  • I Did it My Way

And there you have it, folks.

Complete with a mini iPod playlist– if you’ve ever wondered what makes the Saki world go round, you’ve heard it here first. And don’t forget to check out our selection of Saki Silver!

Signing off,

Kate, World-Wide-Reporter-Extraordinare

The Re-Purposeful Life

Posted by Kate on October 04 at 01:12 pm

I’m not one to go out and buy the latest and greatest. My friends are amazed I still don’t have a “smartphone” (at least not quite yet!) because my old flip phone still works, why would I need a new one? And I tend to wear the same sneakers until the sole comes apart. And I’m driving an old 1997 Honda Accord (because “Hondas can go til 250K at least!”). Using things until they don’t work any longer is something I inherited from my father (thanks, Dad!). My mother has taken my desire for usefulness to another level, however, and tapped into the other side of the coin: re-purposing.

Re-purposed items

Mom recently sent me an email with some creative ideas on how to re-purpose things that may have fallen out of use the way they were originally intended. I thought I’d share some of them with you here, since we’re of the creative “think outside the box ” type. See anything you might find re-useful? :-)

sink extender pancakes

bagel totecan opener



This will come in handy for our craft, right?!

Lima Outside-the-Box

All this re-purposing got me thinking. How can we re-purpose some of our left over beads that didn’t make it into a project? Ali took some of her odds n’ ends beads, strung them up to create a multi-layer bracelet with that new McLees clasp and she did it again using orphan beads in her leather cuff charm bracelet. What about ways to use beads in other non-jewelry ways? (Gasp?) I asked some of our warehouse packers what they would use our pave collection for, if they weren’t beaders. Here’s a few of their ideas:

  • center piece — fill a small vase as a sparkly centerpiece to come home to on your kitchen table! Buffer tea light candles with pave beads to catch more sparkle during dinner.
  • ponytail holder — tie two pave beads into an elastic (Boston way of saying hair tie/ponytail holder/rubber band) for the Punky-Brewster-style look. A chandelier-like throwback to the 80s!
  • flower pot sparkle — toss a few pave beads into your potted plants so when they catch a bit of sun for photosynthesis, they’ll also catch a little additional sparkle. Match ‘em to the bloom or pick a contrasting color for a little more zing.
  • pen topper — I’ve seen folks create beautiful flower petals out of feathers or even scrap quilting material and then adorn the top of a pen or pencil with the topper. Ever thought of using a pave bead for the “pollen center” of your flower design?
  • charm & ring set

    see, I even re-purposed the chip clip into a vice! Click to see in the Design Gallery!

    wine charms — Little charms like this have been all the rage lately. The problem I tend to experience (and several of my co-workers agree): who can remember what their charm was after all that wine drinking?! So warehouse-picker-extraordinares, Kathleen and Kat, came up with this idea… Take one of our little bezeled adjustable rings and sprinkle some matching glitter in that bezel with some resin. Volia! Just look down at your finger to remember which charmed glass matches!

I guess the famous Shamballa bracelet isn’t the only way to put those paves to work, eh? What’s your favorite “re-purposed” invention?

If you’re feeling sinister…

Posted by Kate on September 27 at 12:04 pm

Truth Time

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. I liked it alright as a child, but I was clearly just in it for the excitement of being allowed to stay up after sundown and collecting FREE Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Now that I can stay up as long as I want any day of the week and I can buy those little magical PB cups during my weekly grocery trips… the holiday has lost some allure for me. But the rest of the Lima Team seems to like the theme quite a bit and I’ve been told I better gear up for something called “Scream Week” (coming soon). I can get pretty jumpy around haunted houses, cemeteries, dark basements… so Scream Week is making me nervous!!

Scary Movies

As you probably can guess after that paragraph, I do not care for scary movies much either. I’ve always considered this a consequence of getting very wrapped up in the story the filmmaker is trying to tell, and when you mix suspenseful scenes with suspenseful music, I’m definitely going to jump a mile when the surprise comes! I know that’s what the filmmaker intends, but I like popcorn too much to keep spilling it all over my couch! However, I can get on board with at least one Halloween-themed movie. My favorite is Hocus Pocus. Bette Midler? Love it. Sarah Jessica Parker in her early days? Refreshing. Talking cat? Wonderful. Set in historical Salem, Massachusetts? Count me in for a nostalgic 90-minute trip to Spookytown. But when it comes down to it, I’m sure I only like the movie because there is some Disney-like musical numbers, including a great rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “I Put A Spell On You.”


Scary Beads and Charms

If You're Feeling Sinister Fresh Pick

Click here to see Kate's Fresh Pick

While I’m not always on board for the jump-out-at-you scary, I can appreciate a spooky mood. I created this little Fresh Pick to kick off the “Halloween shopping season.” I like the deep reds and blacks paired with a little hint of lighter blue and white hues– the lighter colors remind us that there is good out there, even in the midst of threatening wickedness. [insert count dracula laugh here]. This fresh pick is intended to inspire you all to start thinkin’ spooky in preparation for Scream Week 2012! Word on the street is that the residents in your favorite trick-or-treating neighborhood have been stocking up. Here are some spooky beads and charms to whet your appetite. Stay tuned!

Back into Beading

Posted by Kate on August 30 at 01:43 pm

Hi All! Kate here. I’m the newbie here at Lima Beads and this is my first blog post. (You can read more about me and where I come from on my bio page). Today I wanted to introduce the inspiration behind this week’s Tip & Technique: the Simple Knotted Leather Cord Bracelet.

I just recently created and posted my first Fresh Pick and was really struck by the Lima Community and their encouraging words regarding my pick. (Thank you!) The truth is, I haven’t done much beading lately– not since high school when my hippy friends and I spent Friday nights in someone’s parents’ basement making hemp necklaces and listening to Phish or Dave Matthews or Smashing Pumpkins (OK, I know that last one wasn’t very hippy-esque, but we liked Billy Corgan’s voice). What are your earliest memories of pursuing “the craft”?

Watch "The Simple Knotted Leather Cord Bracelet"So, after working here at Lima for a few weeks, I’ll be honest, I’ve been blown away by the creativity flowing through your fingers in the Design Gallery and Fresh Picks! I asked Ali what would be the next step for me, acknowledging my limited experience in hemp all those years ago, and she suggested a leather cord bracelet. It’s simple enough for me to do :-) AND Ali’s years of experience point out some great tips for anyone who’s using the knotted technique or working with leather cord in some other way.

We made this video after our chat about the technique. Check it out! And I’d love to hear about your earliest memories of jewelry making!


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