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The long awaited: Half Tila Arches Necklace Design is now available!

Half Tila Arches 3 colors

Soon after Half Tila beads became available, I designed this necklace (the original, as shown in bronze). I posted photos of it on Facebook and it received lots of praise and requests for a pattern, but there were a few problems.

When I wore the necklace, it didn’t sit quite right. The components twisted and turned. The focal pearl bezel tilted upwards instead of lying flat on my neck. I knew how to fix it but the beads that I envisioned that would work were just not available at the time. This was just before the market became saturated with every type of two holed bead imaginable. Back then, there were only Tila Beads, SuperDuos, and the new Half Tila Beads.

A few years later, I found the cool silver colored Etched Drum beads from Kelly Stevenson of Back2Bead (as shown in the gunmetal colorway below). I knew that these beads would work well because they have a flat back and two holes. The two holes help keep the components from twisting, and the flat back helps the focal lie flat when wearing it! I remade the necklace using these beads and was quite pleased with it, so I started to write the tutorial.

Unfortunately, my pattern writing skills were not up to the task at the time. Each time I made a component, I made it differently and I had trouble finding a thread path that would be easy to diagram and to teach. I put it aside and focused on other projects.

Now, years later, Melissa Speicher from my local bead store saw the necklace and asked me to teach it at her store Crystal Garden Designs of NY. I agreed, knowing that I now had the skills to write the pattern, but I still faced a problem. The Etched Drums did not come in many colors, and some of Melissa’s customers prefer a glitzier look to the industrial look of the gun metal colorway. I searched my stash and some bead vendors and found that the pattern would work well using Preciosa Candy Beads as the connectors and a Swarovski Rivoli as the focal (peach colorway below). I remade the necklace again, and wrote up the pattern with instructions for both the gunmetal version and the peach version.

The pattern is now available in my shop. You can purchase it here: Half Tila Arches Necklace Tutorial. I hope you’ll give it a try! It’s for intermediate to advanced beaders.

Supplies for this necklace can be purchased at the following links:

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Zig Zag Bracelet and matching pendant

Zigzag bracelet

Kate McKinnon and the team at Contemporary Geometric Beadwork has inspired me to bead along with them as they share their techniques for creating exciting shapes made primarily with Miyuki Delica beads. Here’s the backstory behind how these pieces were created:

Starting from what CGB has dubbed a “podcast bead” made with 20 size 8/0 seed beads, I beaded along with Kate’s videos to make a “rickrack starter bangle” that has 20 zigzag points. My starter bangle is the turquoise zig zag bangle set around the tiny podcast bead that it grew from shown in the adjoining photo.

I then chose some fall colors – gold, two shades of raspberry and two shades of green, with the intention of using all of these for my bangle. As I began to bead the raspberry and gold zigzag, I reached a point where I felt I was very unhappy with the colors and I didn’t think the piece was worth finishing. I didn’t think that adding the greens I had selected would help it. So I put the beadwork aside for a few days and worked on another design.

One of the great things about beading with a community of creative friends is that they can help you see past your beading design blocks. My friend Ilene always tells me to keep working through the “ugly” and it will get better. I have a deeply ingrained need to not let anything go to waste – especially long hours of beadwork made with expensive beads. So when my friend Shari came over to knit one day while I beaded, I asked her advice about the zigzag bracelet. She said that she loved the raspberry and gold but agreed I should lose the green. We then played around with various ideas to improve the piece. These are some experiments we looked at:

The design in the center was exciting to me. I decided that a mirrored zigzag would work well, especially if I added some more rows of gold in the center. I also loved that the mirrored zigzag formed a shape that was a perfect fit for GemDuo beads! I had recently seen some gorgeous 24k gold plated GemDuo bead substitutes that would fit perfectly in the little windows in my zigzag!

I was now faced with a new dilemma- if I added the gold GemDuos in the windows, the bangle would tighten and would no longer fit me. In order to get a wearable bracelet with the gold inserts, I would need to cut the bangle. This would scare many people as they know that the beadwork could easily come apart, but I had cut a peyote bangle once before so I felt brave.

Before cutting, I carefully wove in the beadwork on each side of my cut line. The surgery went very smoothly and I now had a flat bracelet! I found a perfect clasp for the bracelet- the 29mm Beadslide Cross Hatch clasp by Elegant Elements slid right onto my end row of Delicas. But now the bracelet was too big for me. The added width of the clasp combined with the fact that this didn’t need to slip over my wrist anymore, created the need for one more cut. I reinforced and cut one zigzag section off of my bracelet and the fit was perfect.

Now, you know, I couldn’t let that one extra section of cut off zigzag go to waste. I left it on my beading table for a few days and pondered about making it into a pendant. I could have left it as is and just added a chain, but I really felt it wanted more dimension and wanted to be diamond – shaped. I figured out how to continue the rows of peyote that had been cut, added a bail and a simple 2 bead twisted herringbone rope, and I had a necklace to match my bracelet!

I hope you enjoy reading about my design process and inspiration!

If you’d like to try making your own zigzag bracelet, check out The Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Blog and YouTube channel.

If you’d like to purchase the supplies to make this, contact your local bead store or check out these links:

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Beady UFOs (Un-Finished Objects)

Beady UFO shadow box

The bead community is notorious for collecting Un-Finished Objects. For many, it’s a kit that they’ve purchased but could not complete because they’ve gotten bored with it. Or maybe they came up to a portion of the instructions that wasn’t clear and they got stuck. Sometimes the project was just not coming out as expected. Or sometimes, a new project was just so exciting that all work in progress needed to wait while the new project took over.

For me, most of my UFOs happen when I’m designing. Often, the first color selections I choose will not work as expected so I will redo the work with new colors. Or I may start a piece of beadwork but then find that it’s not working out well or I get bored with it. I may have tried someone else’s pattern in order to learn a new technique but did not have time or inclination to complete it. Sometimes I make more components than I need for a particular piece.. And sometimes I just experiment and play with the beads to see what would happen if I try this or that but then I don’t know what to do with the work.

As I can’t bear to rip out all my hours of work, I often save bits of beadwork in a drawer, hoping that one day I will find a good use for them. Here’s what my drawer full of UFOs looked like. Looking at this drawer left me quite uninspired to create any kind of work of art.

Beady UFO progress

But then my friend and bead artist, Ilene Yair, came over to my house and picked out some color coordinated pieces and arranged them on my couch like this. I was instantly inspired and realized that I CAN make lemonade out of my lemons!

Before beginning, I went to my local craft store to purchase a shadow box frame with a precut 5″ x 7″ opening in the mat. I cut a piece of black bead backing to be about 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″. I sewed the selected beadwork UFOs onto the bead backing one at a time, starting near the center, composing the exact arrangement as I worked. If I got stuck, I took a peak at the photo I took of Ilene’s composition on my couch to remind me that this is possible! I finally came to a composition that I was happy with and put the precut mat over the embellished bead backing. As I did so, I saw that I accidentally sewed some of the beadwork over the confines of the mat’s framed area. The beadwork spilled out a bit over the edges of the mat. I decided that this was a happy accident, as I liked it even better than if I would have stayed within the lines.

I’m so happy that now my pretty components have a place where they can be displayed, instead of hiding in a drawer! I hope that some of my other mistakes that are still in the drawer will find a happy home as well.

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Free Pattern Available!

free beading pattern

If you’ve never tried one of my patterns and would like a free pattern to see the quality of my work, you can sign up for my mailing list and I will send you a free exclusive pattern that is not available in my store!

I’ve heard some beaders say that they are afraid to purchase a pattern because they do not know what the quality of the pattern will be and they are worried that they will not be able to understand the instructions. I completely get that! I would like to offer you this pattern so that you can “try before you buy”.

The pattern is for an understated but funky chain made with bugle beads, seed beads and pearls. It can be worn on its own or used as a chain for a coordinating pendant. It can be made monochromatic, like my sample, or with contrasting colors. You can vary the design by using different size bugle beads and pearls. I’d love to see what you come up with!

The pattern was designed as a funky variation to my most popular pattern, Etherial. You can find the pattern for Etherial here: https://sosassybysusansassoon.com/product/etherial-netted-pearl-with-bugles-necklace-tutorial/

Etherial Netted Pearl
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2019 Beadwork Designer of the Year!

I’m so excited to have been chosen by Beadwork Magazine to be one of three Designers of the Year for 2019! It is a great honor, and one that I did not expect to achieve. I share this with fellow honorees Wendy Ellsworth and Vezsuzsi. I hope you’ll enjoy what we create this year along with Beadwork’s many other talented contributors.

As a Designer of the Year, I will be sharing the instructions to make one of my designs in each of this year’s six issues. The first (Feb/Mar) has already hit the press, and is available for purchase in print form or digital form at publisher Interweave’s website. In it, I present my Thistle Necklace. The design was inspired by the beautiful two-holed Kite beads and three-holed Cali beads that were sent to me by Beadsmith last year. As I played around with the beads, I found that they form very easy to make bezels that can be used to encase Swarovski rivoli crystals of all sizes.

Here’s what the components looked like on my bead mat as I worked on the design. Notice that some of them are open – without a rivoli inside them. Those were the first ones I made. Once I saw how pretty they looked open, I knew they would only be improved by adding some bling. Luckily, I had just the right color rivolis to add!

After making these components, I saw that Beadsmith came out with some new kite beads that had a laser-etched design on them. I fell in love with them and had to design something special with these. I used the same basic bezeled rivoli idea and made this necklace, bracelet and pendant.

The tutorials for the necklace and bracelet are available here: Kite and Cali Necklace Kite and Cali Bracelet

Kite and Cali Poinsetta bracelet tutorial

The design also works well for Christmas as the design looks a lot like a Poinsettia when beaded with red kite beads. The tutorial for the bracelet includes the supplies needed to make it in either the laser-etched beads or the poinsettia beads.

As I just couldn’t get enough of these fun components, I played around with some variations of the open-holed components that I had originally created (I hate letting good beadwork go to waste). Here’s what I created with the open components.

I hope you enjoyed this bit of insight into my design process and I hope I’ve inspired you to create some lovely beadwork! Please share your thoughts and your beadwork in the comments.

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Welcome to So Sassy By Susan Sassoon’s New Blog!

Susan Sassoon at a Bead show

I’m so excited to introduce you to my new website. Up until now, I’ve been maintaining a strong presence on Facebook and selling my tutorials on Etsy. I decided to take the plunge and create my own website and mailing list so I can better communicate with and serve my customers and hopefully reach some new ones.

Creating a website was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. Way back in the early 1990s I had learned HTML and created a few basic websites, but the computer world moves quickly and I pretty much had to relearn website developing from scratch. I am quite proud of what I created here so far and I am looking forward to improving the site and adding more content. Please take a look around and let me know your thoughts. Don’t be shy about letting me know how it can be improved or if I’ve made any typos, mistakes or if any links have expired. You can comment below or send me a private message here.

If you’ve already beaded a project from one of my tutorials and would like me to share your work on this site, please send me an email with a photo and I’ll be very happy to post it on my site. You can also reach me here with any questions you may have on any of my tutorials.

If you haven’t yet signed up for my mailing list, please do so – I will be sending you a free exclusive tutorial to thank you for joining me. I promise I won’t fill up your mail box with lots of emails. I plan to send out blog posts when I have a new tutorial or some beady news or tips to share.

Happy Beading,

Susan