Beads Baubles And Jewels - Southwest, Episode 2704

The first episode (2701) of the new season of Beads, Baubles and Jewels started airing recently in some locations! The season started running on the Public Broadcasting Station on Thursday, January 24th in some locations (check your local listings for start date and times). I am on the very first episode of the season with a design that is an evolution from a project in Seed Bead Revolution.

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This blog, however is about episode 2704, the fourth episode in the new season. Episode 2704 is inspired by the Southwest (and perfect timing with so many people enjoying the Tucson gem and mineral shows). When the themes were released by the production company, I quickly picked By the Sea (where I live now in the Bay Area) and Southwest (where I lived for years in Phoenix). It was fun to revisit my Southwest roots and to think about how I might take this theme and make it modern and my own. This episode is special to me because the second half of the show is featuring my friend, Tracy Gonzales from TierraCast (our Sonoma County, California neighbors) with a design using Soft Flex beading wire too! More on that later!

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In this project, I used three colors of  .019 Medium Soft Flex beading wire – Turquoise, Red Jasper and Citrine. You can also find all three of these colors in our new Trios Southwest Design Collection.

I took all three colors and knitted them together on a  4 pin knitting spool. I love how well these colors evoke the spirit of the Southwest! I used Soft Flex crimp tubes (key for a good hold) on both ends to string and attach to findings from Saki Silver, one of my favorite findings companies. The decoration on the toggle clasp reminded me of a big sun and felt so appropriate for a piece inspired by the sunny Southwest.

Knitting with Soft Flex beading wire has always been one of my favorite techniques. I love how flexible the wire is and with so many different colors, diameters and styles of knitting, you can continuously make unique designs. In this case, I used  Knitting Style 1. This technique is easy and relaxing once you get the hang of it. I used a 4 pin knitting spool for my BBJ project, but you can also choose a 3 pin or 5 pin spool. Depending on the number of pins, your design will be thinner (3 pin) or thicker (5 pin).

I crimped the ends of my design using  2x2mm Soft Flex crimp tubes (the best!) and regular crimping pliers. All three wires are crimped together and trimmed down to just one. With the final wire, I strung the beautiful cone from Saki Silver, a 2x2mm Soft Flex crimp tube, half of the clasp and then passed the wire back into the crimp tube. I cinched the crimp tube to the cone and crimped with regular crimping pliers. Then, I trimmed excess wire and covered the tube with a 3mm crimp cover.

Once you have learned how to knit on a knitting spool, the variety of designs that you can make will really impress you. Above is an example of the design alternatives that I took to show on Beads, Baubles and Jewels. Before shooting, using trays, each designer organizes the items that they need for their segment so that it can be easily moved in and out of the studio. It is a little nerve-wracking as everyone is depending on you to be efficient. This segment filmed without a hitch!

Here is a photo of host Katie Hacker with me before we shot the Southwest segment. You can find more knitting spool projects in both my book  Show Your Colors and the Soft Flex Bracelet Booklet. Knitting on a spool is such a fun technique. I hope you will try it and love it as much as I do!

As I noted above, I get to share this episode with Tracy Gonzales from  TierraCast. We didn’t get to tape our segments on the same day but Tracy did stop by and prep on the day that I was shooting. So it was nice to see her design and realize that she used Soft Flex beading wire to make it! Last year, TierraCast came out with a sweet mini collection inspired by the Southwest with feathers, thunderbirds and really nice spacer beads. We designed a fantastic TierraCast Western Winds Design Kit with these pieces. We still have a few left. These kits include the big and little feathers used in Tracy’s design on Beads, Baubles and Jewels.

Here is a design that I made inspired by Tracy’s design. I used a pair of chain nose pliers to gently bend the feather and then popped a hole in one end using the Vintaj Punch Pliers. I love this bracelet. The kits come with beading wire, crimps, clasps, ear wires, beads (everything shown here and much, much, much more).

I loved getting a chance to see what Tracy made for the show. She is such a creative soul and just a really nice person too.

So, I hope that you will check your local listings and make sure to catch Episode 2704 (4th in the season) to see our Southwest inspired creations! I think that it will be a really fun episode where lots of viewers will learn some great new techniques and even revisit some old ones.

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Sara Oehler (pronounced Ay-ler) is a well-known jewelry designer living in the Bay Area. Sara is the author of several beading books, including her latest title, written with Kristen Fagan, Seed Bead Revolution. She has designed and written for numerous publications including: BeadStyle, Bead&Button, Bead Trends, Stringing, Jewelry in Fashion Trends, Simply Beads, The Flow and Today's Creative Home Arts. Currently, Sara is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Soft Flex Company.
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