Monday, June 13, 2016

Summery Sea Glass Creations

The temperatures are going up around the United States, which means we’re right in the thick of summer! It’s the perfect time of the year to cool off, relax and get a little bit of sun in the process. A new beaded necklace completes the package, and our sea glass beads are just the trick.

While our new sea glass beads section includes organic-shaped pieces that go well with any design, we’re particularly fond of our ocean-themed beads. Sea shells and sand dollars remind us of sticking our toes in the cool sand, and their sea glass counterparts come in so many fun colors and sizes. The great thing about sea glass is its opaque look stands out perfectly against metals and white pieces. Imagine adding a sea foam sea glass bead to a pendant of white pearls. Beautiful! Our starfish necklace borrows from that idea but bunches sea foam beads around the point of an antique-silver-finish starfish component from Dorabeth Designs. It’s just the right touch of summer color that invokes a shimmering, shallow beachfront.

Whether you’re designing something ocean- and beach-themed or just looking for a few splashes of bright color to welcome in the warm weather, cultured sea glass beads fit the bill. What will you design this summer?

With us, you’ll find one of the largest selections of sea glass available online. With over 60 styles, 40 colors and 1,000 beads to choose from, you’re bound to find that perfect piece to complete your design. Take a look at our selection of sea glass beads here and pick some ocean-themed beads from this list. If you want some beautiful inspiration for your summery sea glass creations, be sure to head over to our Pinterest page and look at some of the beautiful designs people have created.

Ready to show off one of your summer bead necklaces? Share a photo with us on social media or attach it in a comment below! If you need more encouragement to start that sea glass necklace project, we’ve got a great discount code to save 10% off a $25+ order for the summer! Start saving and creating today!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Introducing Claycult Cambodia Beads

We’ve always supported organizations that align with our Women Helping Women mission, and we’re excited to highlight another company! Claycult Cambodia’s objective is to provide sustainable, long-term employment in a safe working environment while also providing education and training to its staff members and their families. Similar to other companies such as Kazuri, Claycult Cambodia employs mostly women and caters to its staff’s family and educational obligations. It even outsources materials to employees who can’t come to the workshop, builds its weekly hours schedule around what’s most flexible for the staff, and offers a free home-cooked lunch every day. Not only do staff members have a comfortable and supportive working environment, but they are taught every aspect of the business from production to painting to finishing to sales.

Tree of Serenity necklace
These clay beads from Cambodia are unlike anything we’ve offered at Antelope Beads before. Every step of the bead-making process is done by hand, even the collection and production of the clay! All of the bead designs are inspired by Cambodia’s rich Khmer culture and history, including imagery pulled directly from the Angkor temples. It’s a unique way for the young staff members to connect to their past and respect their roots while tapping into a creative side of themselves they may have never known before.

We’re so excited and proud to be able to offer these beautiful Claycult Cambodia beads alongside products from our other socially responsible vendors, and we just know you’ll love including these bright and colorful designs in your next piece of jewelry. You can learn more about Claycult Cambodia and its mission by watching a video here, and don’t forget to share some of your designs with us that feature Claycult!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Our 10th Anniversary: How We Got Here & Why

May marks Antelope Beads’ 10th anniversary! While we’re excited to celebrate this milestone with all of our friends and customers, we thought it an appropriate time to look back at how we got started and why we do what we do.

"The Bracelet"
Just looking for something to do on a day off in 2005, founder Laura Bittner made a trip to a bead store with family. On that day in 2005, she left the store having fallen in love with beads and jewelry making. She began taking jewelry making classes and experimenting with materials such as wire. Her large gauge wire creations required large-holed beads, and that’s when Laura discovered Kazuri beads and created “The Bracelet” that got her started with artisan beads. Small and colorful, Kazuri beads are created by mostly single mothers in Kenya who sustain and provide for their families through their jobs. It was the powerful story of Kazuri that gave Laura an idea.

She began seeking out artisan, handmade beads for her projects that had a story and a purpose behind them. Antelope Beads is now built around the idea of ethically and responsibly sourced beads that provide communities and individuals with a source of creativity, independence and income. What started with Kazuri expanded to other bead groups such as Samunnat, which offers beads made by Nepalese women who have escaped domestic violence as well as Golem Design Studios from Bulgaria and their newest artisan find, Claycult from Cambodia, launching in late May. The selection of handmade beads has now extended to include several U.S. based independent artists like Dorabeth Designs, C-Koop, Clay River Designs, Urban Raku and many more. “I love beads that have a story and have been created and shaped by hand,” says Laura. “I view Antelope Beads as part of a ‘global circle’ of women empowering women and artists supporting one another’s art. When you buy from us, you also help support the artists who create those beads. Their beautiful products help you to explore and develop your own creative talents, as do the videos we create to pass along the gift of beading knowledge and techniques.”

Some of Antelope Beads' inventory!
What started as a small business crammed into her 10’x10’ office in her house has expanded to a 1,400-square foot space filled with all sorts of beads and jewelry components. Laura’s enlisted the help of family and friends to expand Antelope Beads’ reach, with her parents (Bob and Carolyn) being a big part of the business since the beginning doing just about anything to help the business grow, her brother, Brian, handling marketing efforts and sister-in-law Jill working shows and spreading the word with her fun jewelry parties. The extended “work family” includes Elaine Teevens who passionately creates all sorts of beautiful jewelry samples and video tutorials and has a deep knowledge and limitless creativity when it comes to all things beads.  Rounding out the team are long time members Kathy Siddall and Carrie Walker who do an amazing job keeping orders filled,  inventory under control, and providing outstanding customer support.

“I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped make Antelope Beads what it is today, from the artists who make beautiful products that inspire us all, to all our customers whose continued support enables us to bring these beautiful beads to market. To everyone who has played a role in helping us in our first decade in business: Thank you!” - Laura

Laura, Antelope Beads' founder

Friday, April 8, 2016

How to Make an Infinity Coil Knot Bracelet

A handmade bracelet is a great look on anyone, especially when you can make it yourself. A stylish Infinity Bracelet uses a simple coil knot for design and it’s easy enough to make on your own. First, however, you must know how to make the coil knot itself. Follow our simple instructions below to get started!

The Coil Knot

Using a 10mm flat leather strip, a 2mm rounded leather strip, scissors and glue, we will practice making the coil knot which is essential in creating a trendy Infinity Bracelet.

  1. Using the 2mm strip, fold the end towards the back to make a little loop at the top about 1.5 inches long. 
  2. Lay this loop across the back of the base piece, which is your 10mm strip.
  3. Holding the loop in place, take the longer end of the 2mm strip and begin coiling around both pieces of leather. 
  4. Work your way up the loop, hiding it behind the coil (be sure the coils are touching each other and are not too spaced out).
  5. When you have about two inches left, thread the tail of the 2mm strip through the loop.
  6. Grab both tails of the strip and pull, tightening the loop altogether. 
  7. Use the scissors the cut the end pieces off the knot, shove the nub underneath the coil and glue it closed.

Great! Now you know how to perform the coil knot. This is essential is creating a handcrafted Infinity Bracelet, so take your time and practice.

The Infinity Bracelet

To complete this bracelet, you’ll need:

  • 14 inches of 5mm suede 
  • 14-inch pieces of 1.5mm natural leather (2) 
  • Bracelet clasps (2)
  • 8mm jump rings (2)
  • Bracelet slide
  • Optional: charms and beads

     suede coil knot bracelet
  1. Add the 8mm jump rings to your bracelet clasps and set one aside. 
  2. Attach one of the clasps to the suede about 1/3 of the way down.
  3. Grab both ends of the suede, hold them together and add the slide to both ends. Move the slide down to the middle so that it creates an even amount of loop and loose ends on both sides. 
  4. Take one loose end and apply the second bracelet clasp, moving it down about 2 inches. 
  5. Next, hold both loose ends and glue to the two together at their tips. After you have applied the glue, hold tightly for a few seconds.  
  6. Glue that section to the adjacent strip of leather, leaving the bracelet clasp in a tiny loop at the end by itself. 

Great! You have completed the first part of the Infinity Bracelet. Next, you will use the coil knot from earlier. If you need a refresher, check out this helpful video.

  1. Take one of your natural leather strips and begin the coil knot technique. Make a loop at the top of the strip, lay it across the base (the double loop of suede) and begin coiling.
  2. While you’re wrapping, be sure to completely cover the glued section.
  3. Put the tail through the loop, pull until the knot tightens and push the knot underneath the wrap.
  4. Once completed, push the other bracelet clasp up so that it is on the opposite side of the one you’ve been working next to. 
  5. Coil wrap the other side of the main bracelet now (be sure to coil the same number of times as you did on the first side).
  6. Loop, cut and tuck in this side as well, covering any glued suede. 
  7. Glue the tucked knots and be careful not to get any glue on the suede bracelet. 
  8. Finally, adjust the slide to the middle of the bracelet and add any charms you’d like!

After you connect both bracelet claps together, you have yourself a one-of-a-kind Infinity Bracelet! For more practice, watch our instructional video here and reach out to Antelope Beads with any other questions. Want to make the suede bracelet shown above? Click here to buy all the components for it!

Do you have tips or tricks for using coil knots? Share them with us below!

Monday, March 14, 2016

DIY Bracelets for Father's Day

It can be hard to know what to give the man in your life when it comes to birthdays or holidays. Some people are so particular about what they wear and what they like! It can be especially tricky when shopping for your dad. If you’re stumped when it comes to Father’s Day gift ideas, we have you covered! Here are just a few ideas for homemade men’s leather bracelets that he’s sure to love.

Lots of the designs we’ve put together focus on more neutral and natural colors so they don’t draw a lot of attention away from the outfit. This basic bracelet, for example, includes just one brass slider and a brass clasp on a length of Greek Regaliz™ oval cord. It’s a great design for anyone who is into a minimalist, modern look. You could even take the slider off and just use the clasps for a really basic style! This is a great design option if you’re just getting started with beading and you’re not comfortable trying some more advanced, difficult techniques.

Minimalist design is nice for the more conservative dresser, but what if you want to try something a bit more visually striking? Try attaching wooden beads vertically throughout your creation! This woven wrap bracelet strings Bayong block beads in a row between a length of cord so the bracelet has more texture and a unique style. You can replace the block beads with any style of bead in any color, but keep in mind that the larger the bead, the more wax cord you’ll need to loop through the beads. This one takes a little bit of patience and practice, but once you get the hang of the technique, it opens up a door to all sorts of new jewelry designs. Be sure to check out our YouTube video on making woven bracelets for some pointers.

For the guy that likes flashy, eye-catching accessories, our Elephant Walk bracelet would be a great design to mimic. A great design for young dads and free spirits, the style basically combines multiple bracelet styles into one piece that combines different cords, textures and colors. This type of design definitely takes some practice, so we recommend clicking the image to review all the various steps and links to associated videos.

There are plenty of gifts for Father’s Day available online, but why not give him something more personal? Using one of our templates as a guide, you’ll be making fun and unique men’s leather bracelets he’ll want to wear with every outfit! Check out our men's jewelry inspirations section for some great designs, and be sure to share your ideas and comments with us below!

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Spotlight on Jackfruit Wood Beads

Jackfruit trees are native to areas in South and Southeast Asia and are also known as Nangka. Their beautiful wood is a warm, bright shade of yellow that is used for everything from beads to furniture. We've ethically sourced and harvested this beautiful wood to give you some more natural options for your designs. Its bright, natural shade makes it an especially popular choice for beading enthusiasts and crafters, and we definitely agree!
 jackfruit bead earrings

One thing we love about the different Jackfruit beads we have available is their versatility to be incorporated into different styles of jewelry. Take these earrings, for example. The elongated design of the beads makes them a perfect choice as the focal point of dangle earrings. They could also be used to space out smaller components on a bracelet and save some money in the process.

Beads made of Jackfruit work well for simple, rustic bracelet designs as well. In this cork cord bracelet, you can see how a flat cord Jackfruit bead has been used with round cord to act as the centerpiece for the design. To help offset the slider bead and draw the eye to it, a few tube beads have been added on either side with O-rings to keep them in place.

 jackfruit bead bracelet
Both of these designs are great for accenting a colorful outfit, but they’re just the beginning of what you can do with Jackfruit beads. If you’re looking to welcome warmer weather with some bright, natural colors in your designs, head on over to Antelope Beads for all of your wooden Jackfruit beading supplies! Don’t forget to share your creations with us on Facebook. We love seeing what you come up with!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Spotlight on Tiger Ebony Wood Beads

Found in several different types of Filipino trees, Tiger Ebony is a dense, hard bead that’s very dark in color. We love it because it has a polished finish, can be black, brown or a mixture of both and it’s a great choice for adding a dark, earthy element to your design. If you’re struggling to figure out how to incorporate Bulahan Tiger Ebony beads into your bracelet or necklace, we’ve got some ideas for you!

tiger ebony necklaceUse Tiger Ebony beads to break up sections of brighter color as we’ve done with this You Love This Wood Heishi bead necklace. The rich brown tones of the Tiger Ebony aren’t meant to overpower or draw attention, they simply act as a means of drawing attention to the brighter brown accents and flattering the neckline. Neutral colors are great at doing that!

Wooden Tiger Ebony beads are so striking they can be the focal point of a design, as shown here in the Night Leopard suede bracelet design we’ve created. Just one large-holed tube slider bead breaks up the pattern of the leopard cord and adds a touch of simplistic design to the bracelet. Quick and easy!
tiger ebony bracelet
They’re also a great bead choice when you want a design that resembles a charm bracelet with standard metal charms. Our Chocolate Drops cork cord bracelet features riveted Tiger Ebony beads spaced evenly throughout the design and smaller round beads bunched together on jump rings to get that dangling effect. Pair it with an autumn-colored outfit that’s orange, green or brown and you’ve got a great accent piece that’s one of a kind.
tiger ebony charm bracelet
Tiger Ebony wooden beads add that rich, dark color to a design while maintaining a natural feel and look to them. These are just a few ways to use them, but the options are almost limitless. What sort of uses have you found for Tiger Ebony wood beads? Let us know in the comments below or share your creations with us on Facebook!