Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bead Cruise 2012 Registration Opens May 30th

Bead Cruise 2012
Bead Cruise 2012 will be sailing to the beautiful Eastern Caribbean on March 3, 2012 aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's incredible Navigator of the Seas!
With the creative cast of instructors we have, you won't want to miss a single beading event. Come enjoy the fabulous workshops of Tracy Stanley, Heather Powers, Kerry Bogert, Jill Wiseman, and Beverly Herman for a beading event you'll never forget. The classes are going to be fabulous - click here for details..

Bead Cruise definitely has it all ... top-notch beading events and instructors, a fabulous cruise line and ship, and an amazing itinerary!

Relax and unwind as you travel to the beautiful Eastern Caribbean, ahhhh. We are so excited that for the first time we are doing an 8 night cruise, with stops in St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico, and Royal Caribbean's private paradise in Haiti - you are going to LOVE this itinerary! Only unpack once, enjoy all the shipboard amenities, visit exciting ports of call, eat an unlimited supply of delicious cuisine, and bead to your little beading heart's content!

With such an exciting schedule and itinerary for Bead Cruise 2012, we're sure to sell out quickly this year. General registration will open on Monday, May 30th at noon Eastern Time - so mark your calendars now and make plans to join us for Bead Cruise 2012. Visit for all the details and we'll see you onboard!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bead Cruise 2011 Program

View the Bead Cruise 2011 Program from our last cruise.  This is a booklet that I create for our participants each year.  This issue includes 7 free jewelry projects and bead resources!  Click on it to browse through the pages, download or print.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Featured Sponsor: Artisan Clay

Kristie Roeder is the talented beadmaker behind Artisan Clay.  Her ceramic work combines glazes and glass to create pools of crystal colors and uses elements of the earthy clay to juxtapose the texture and colors of her work. The result is work that looks like it's a treasure found from a long forgotten civilization.

** A little bit about the process**

All of Kristie's work is made in the same methods as functional pottery. Every piece is formed, trimmed, dried, fired, glazed, and fired again before it then can be made into jewelry.  She also use a potter’s wheel to throw some of her round and donut pendants.

For some of her pieces, she fuses recycled or stained glass to create pools of color.  Kristie's color palettes range from tropical ocean blues, to fiery reds and yellows to subdued greens and purples.  Her work glows with bright pops of color in crackled glass finishes.

I had the pleasure of working with Kristie's amazing pieces for a Bead Soup Party blog swap.  You can see more design examples using Artisan Clay pendants here.

You can find Kristie's work on her website or her Etsy shop.  Be sure to stop by her blog to see a peek into the artist's creative process.

Thanks Kristie for being one of our amazing sponsors!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bead Cruise 2012

Join us March 3rd as we set sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida for 8 nights of beads, friends and fun! We'll sail on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas to Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts; San Juan, Puerto Rico and the beaches of Labadee.

Instructors include Tracy Stanley, Kerry Bogert, Beverly Herman, Jill Wiseman and Heather Powers. Classes range from beadwork, metalwork, wire-wrapping, resin beadmaking and even jewelry photography!

All the fun of a luxury cruise combined with a great bead retreat. Join us for classes, workshops, open beading sessions, a cocktail party, gift bags, door prizes, a bead bazaar and more!

Early Bird Registration opens May 23rd!  General registration opens May 30th. 

Visit our website to learn more about our 2012 instructors!  Class information will post on Wednesday.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bead Cruise Husbands

Okay, so there are always a handful of husbands, significant others or those who don't bead that join their bead obsessed friends on the Bead Cruise.  What are these poor boys do when their wives have their noses stuck to the bead trays?

Well, let's start off with the first night.  Guys, while the ladies gather for the Meet & Greet with the instructors, we invite you to have your own informal Meet & Greet outside the conference room at the registration desk and then head on up to the solarium bar to get to know your fellow abandoned travelers.
We have two events the guys are invited to join us.  On the second night of the cruise make sure to pull out all the stops and get dressed up for your sweetie for formal night.  We have a group photo before dinner and you are invited to join us.  The following night we have our Under the Stars cocktail party in the solarium, gather with us for a relaxing evening and a few drinks.

Now, I have a feeling that you'll find plenty of things to do on the cruise.  There is entertainment on board practically 24/7!  Don't hang out in your cabin all day - there is a world of fun waiting for you on the Voyager.

If you are into sports you can go rock climbing, roller blading, golfing, swimming or ice skating!  There is also a full size basketball court and volleyball court in case you are feeling competitive.  No equipment is needed, they have everything onboard. 

Okay, so maybe you are more into games of chance than sports.  There are poker tournaments in the casino, bingo in the theatres and friendly card games in the game room.

Of course, the best vacation may be the one where you sit on a lounge chair all day long next to the pool and do absolute nothing - for hours!  If you want to watch the crowds and be entertained by the activies on the deck, check out the main pool.  I'm not responsible for how many ice cream cones you eat while sitting up there!

If you are looking for a quieter spot head into the solarium.  No kids allowed!  Enjoy the pool, hot tub, lounge area, grill and bar in this relaxing spot.

Want to check out what else there is to do onboard?  Visit this link for a list of activies that will happen during our cruise.  Check out the Compass each evening for a list of activities and compare it to the Bead Cruise schedule to plan out your day.

P.S. If you want to go on the cruise with us in 2012, you may want to send this blog post to your husband.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sponsor Interview: Marsha Neal

Marsha Neal Studio, LLC is the name of my company (Marsha Neal technically does not exist anymore - she got married...). I have been working with clay since 1997 when I took an elective ceramics class while going for my undergraduate degree in Entomology (bugs). I loved working with clay so much that I went on to receive my MA in ceramics in 2001.

I started concentrating on making porcelain pendants & beads around 2002 and quit my job in 2004 to pursue making beads and traveling around the country to sell them. By 2006 I was really feeling burnt out from traveling and making beads, and my husband Dave and I were at a point of wanting to try to start a family. So I gave up traveling. It was a good decision too because in January of 2007 my mom was diagnosed with a very rare form of Leukemia, which she fought as long as she could, but passed away in September 2007. I had my daughter Chloe in December 2007 and my son Riley in December 2009.

Right now my life is undergoing a major restructuring physically and mentally. Things are not the same as they were when I left them 4-5 years ago. Outside of family responsibilities (I love being a mom), Etsy and Blogging have become a huge focus in my life. Marsha Neal Studio, LLC is involved in a number of ongoing copyright infringement lawsuits with my porcelain pendants (copies are being made in China and distributed through online websites as well as brick and mortar establishments - ugh!).

How do drawing and gardening work their way into your designs?

I applied and was accepted to the 2011 Master Gardener program here in New Castle Co. Delaware where I hope to be able to enhance my foundation in gardening and nature & wildlife conservation. I cannot take myself away from the concept of Ecological Gardening & all that it encompasses - and spreading the word about it in ways that people can apply simple things to everyday life to make things a tad better for the environment immediately around them. I have a feeling a lot of this will be coming out in my blog over this next growing season.

This year I am also taking an online drawing lab course to learn some basics of drawing (another thing I wanted to do, but never had the chance formally). So with this drawing and gardening, I hope to see a lot of new imagery appearing in my clay work. Maybe in the form of new textures, maybe just new designs that I can use with my line of decal drawings.

How do you balance production work, creative time and being a mom?

My kids go to school (preschool) full time and they thrive there. They are both very socially friendly kids & have lots of friends & great teachers. When they are at home with us, we spend as much time as possible with them doing stuff that helps them grow as kind, caring, fun individuals. We laugh a lot! And I am not afraid to let them know when I make a mistake or when I need a time out. We take time to learn from mistakes, accidents, to think how our actions make other people feel and to make better decisions. Everything is a learning experience at this age (1 and 3 years old). I found that I function better as a person when I have time to get things done for myself - which is mainly for "Marsha Neal Studio". Being an artist means that I live my life with my art in mind constantly. I get very cranky and irritable if I don't have my "alone" time in the studio. So the kids going to school allows me to focus on me. I love being a mom - but without school - I would be completely miserable and I think it would show through them.

What is the best mistake you've ever made?

I think that it is important as a bead maker to understand how the pieces you are going to make are going to be used. Even if my attempts at jewelry making are feeble and really bad sometimes, I continue on. I love sitting to make jewelry with a bunch of inexpensive wire so I can try out designs and then cut them apart if I feel it is a failure. Sometimes I keep the failures as a reminder of a turning point. I embrace mistakes and look for "cool" things to happen as I am experimenting. I laugh a lot at some things I've tried and imagine someone wearing. Oh, and I realize too - I need a mirror in the area I am creating jewelry. Nothing like having to constantly run up & down the basement steps to see how something is looking (or attempt to take a picture with the phone camera and actually see what the piece looks like).

If you were stranded on a tropical island and could create all day, what would you spend that time making?

With all the flurry of constant activity, if I actually had a moment to myself to sit on a tropical beach and take along a beading project - it would have to be some sort of bead and macramé project. All of the beads would have to be pre-strung on the string, inside a baggie so I could pick it up or put it down whenever I wanted. Something very hands on without a lot of excess supplies to get sand in. My sketch book with black ink gel pen & iPhone would also be in my beach bag, easily accessible so I could absorb all the warmth that a new environment would offer and sketch out ideas and take photos of cool textures and color inspirations (as well as photos of memories of hanging out with a bunch of other beady friends... I love my beady friends!). Maybe Chloe and I will get to go on a bead cruise in a few years when she is a little older...
Find Marsha online:

Photos by Marsha Neal Minutella

Friday, March 4, 2011

Featured Sponsor: Mary Harding

Talented ceramic bead artist Mary Harding has been a sponsor of the Bead Cruise for several years offering a collection of awesome door prizes for a few lucky winners.  This year, all our participants will be winners - Mary is donating an item this year for each bag! 

"Mary Harding McCallion makes ceramic clay of the earth beads, pendants, and vessel pendants. Her beads are both slip cast and hand built. Each bead is individually decorated with stampings, multiple stainings, firings and glazing often resulting in an ancient or primitive look. More recently she has begun to use impressions from wildflowers and plants that blossom in the summer in the pastures of Northern New York.
To see more of Mary's work visit her website and blog.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bead Cruise Gear

I've recently created some new Bead Cruise gear designs for our group.  You can find these in my Zazzle shop.  For most of the designs you can change the style, color and size of the t-shirt. 

You'll also find tote bags and mugs featuring our logo and some of my beadwork.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Shore Excursions

Now that the cruise is a month away, it's time to start planning your shore excursions - if you haven't already.

First - Be safe, travel with a group. We have two days together on the ship before we reach our first island, if you don't want to go on an official excursion find a new friend to go with to the beach or to explore the shops and sights.

When picking out a shore excursion - read the descriptions carefully.  Are you going to spend 4 hours of your day traveling in a bus? Is the excursion a physically challenging one.  Are there weight or age restrictions?  There may be several different options for one attraction, like the waterfalls in Jamaica - you can climb the waterfall or take an optional tour that doesn't involve the climbing.

Use online resources to learn more about your top picks. To read reviews and tips on shore excursions I like to check out the Cruise Critics' forum.

Another tip - check out youtube or flickr for excursion you are interested in - people post videos and photos from their cruises all the time and it might help you to decide if an excursion is right for you.  Just type in what you are looking for like: 'Dunns Waterfall Jamaica' or 'snorkeling in Cozumel'.

Port Highlights - click on the links below to read about each port and view the excursions.

Editors' pick: snorkeling or spending the day on the beach at Chankanaab.

Grand Cayman
Editor's pick: the turtle farm - you get to hold baby sea turtles! Don't forget to pick up some rum cake from the island - this is where it is made!

Falmouth, Jamaica
Editor's pick: Dunns River Falls - there are a few different excursions, some more strenuous than others for the falls.  This is the highlight of the island.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Featured Sponsor: Artbeads

If you haven't shopped with, I want to encourage you check out this awesome online shop.  And if you have shopped with them, you know they offer great deals, interesting finds and super fast shipping.
I love the Artbeads website and all the inspiration they offer to their customers. In the Learning Center you'll find trends, color palettes, projects, business resources and more. The also have a lively blog and facebook community.  Be sure to visit the Fashion Trends section featuring visual inspiration for what's current in the industry.   

Enjoy 10% off your next purchase from
Coupon Code: ZZ-MEMBER
Expires: 7/31/2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Formal Nights

If this is your first cruise the formal night attire may be on your mind.

What is formal?  Well, on Royal Caribbean you'll find there is a huge variation in what is worn that night.  My rule of thumb - if you could wear it to a wedding, it's formal enough.  Now this is one of the few times you could pull out the sequins or put in some extra hours in your favorite cocktail dress, so if you want to go all out and dress to the nines - this is your chance!

Some things to keep in mind:

We always have a group photo taken on the first formal night, which is the first full day at sea.

On a 7 night cruise there are 2 formal nights.

Wear shoes that are dressy but still comfortable - there is a lot of walking on the ship and you don't want to ruin the fun with painful shoes.

For whatever reason, I guess because cruise lines think cowboys rule Texas, cruises sailing out of Galveston have a more relaxed dress code.  So don't stress about what to wear!

And finally, on formal night - we'll be more interested in your jewelry than your outfit!

(Touch of Russian Elegance Necklace by Beverly Herman - tutorial available in her Etsy shop.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spa Hints

So what's the spa all about on the cruise?  The spa on the Royal Caribbean ships are a little oasis of pampering and relaxation during your tropical vacation.  I love enjoying a day at the spa with my mom while we are on the cruise.  It's such a wonderful experience to sit for a few hours and just have some rare 'me' time.

Don't schedule your spa appointments during our class times - you'll receive a complete schedule when you sign-in with our group on the first afternoon of our cruise. 

Be aware that spa treatments are a separate cost. You can book your appointment once you are onboard.  If you want your hair or nails done for the formal night, book those times as soon as possible.

Here are 5 hints for getting the most out of your spa visit:

1. Schedule a spa appointment during one of our port days.  There are always special deals on those days, you'll have more information delivered to your stateroom about the spa specials while onboard.

2. Enjoy the complimentary sauna and lounge area in the spa.

3. Take a Pathways to Yoga class to get your zen on. 

4. Don't feel pressured to purchase extra items or packages, cruises always try to up-sell.

5. After your spa treatment head to the solarium to sit in the hot tub and then indulge in a tropical drink - complete with umbrella!

Want more details:
Spa Treatments
Fitness Center Information

(Photo credit: The Exo Guy via the creative commons on Flickr)

Friday, February 18, 2011

10 Minutes on a Tropical Island

Need a few minutes on your own private island?

Maybe you just need a break from the snow or  you're dreaming about joining us on our next trip - here is a tiny slice of heaven for you.

Bring your own beer and lime wedges!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Featured Sponsor: Genea Beads

This week's sponsor is Genea Beads.  Bead artist Genea Crivello-Knable offers lampwork beads and soldered components in fun and colorful designs.  Genea  is a mixed media artist who designs jewelry along with creating her unique beads.

Genea's beads are featured in the Spring issue of Stringing magazine.  To see more ideas using her beads, visit her Etsy shop.

"My passion is working glass with fire and creating mixed-media pieces.I love using bright colors, texture, shape, and many different mediums all combined together to create pieces that enhance all of the senses. I love creating pieces that are asymmetrical and intricate so there is a treasure to be discovered in every inch of my work. I use my handmade beads, soldered charms, leather, fibers, metal, rubber and other elements to create my jewelry." - Genea

Get to Know Genea:
Visit her website.
Stop by her blog.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Enjoying Your Vacation

Life onboard a cruise can be enjoyed in so many ways.  For some that includes mixing it up right in the middle of the dances and parties onboard.  For others that will mean spending as much time as possible soaking up rays on the deck, a good book in hand.  There are those who live for the night life; enjoying drinks with friends, watching the shows and having fun in the casino.

For some of us a little of all the above sounds like the perfect trip!  You'll have free time to enjoy whatever you are most interested in during your cruise.  I know for some of you, finally having the time to bead with friends is all you are looking forward to doing on the ship!

For me, my favorite moments are quiet times with friends and family.

Explore the ship with a friend.

Check out upper decks for beautiful views and catch a sunset.

Enjoy the hot tub in the solarium.

Treat yourself to a mini-session in the spa.

Watch the stars late at night on your balcony or on the upper decks.

Visit the piano bar at the end of the evening for a night cap.

What are you most looking forward to about our next cruise?

(Photo credit: Richard SB via the Flickr creative commons and enhanced through Picnik.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Starfish Pendant Free Tutorial

Here is a fun and easy example of a pendant that would be perfect for our Handcrafted Pendant Swap.  Pair up an art bead pendant, like the starfish here, with a cluster of crystal accents and a cute charm. 

To create the wire-wrapped bail:
1. Cut a 5" length of 20 gauge wire and insert it into the pendant.
2. Leave a 2" tail on the back and create a loop, wrap the wire around the loop 2 times, trim excess wire and use flat nose pliers to tuck the end of the wire into the wrap. 
3. With the other end of the wire continue wrapping under the loop, moving the wire up and down as your wrap it to create a random texture.

4. Attach the starfish and the pendant to a 15mm jump ring. 
5. Attach a 10mm etched jump ring with a 7.5mm jump ring.
6. To create the dangles use a 3" headpin and create a wrapped loop, continue wrapping the wire under the loop using the rest of the wire.  I used 6 dangles for this project. Use small jump rings to attach the dangles to the 7.5mm jump ring.  
7. Add a 10mm etched jump ring for the ribbon.

Starfish beads can be found here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cruise Drinks De-Mystified

Here are some drink tips for 1st time cruisers.

Free drinks: ice tea, hot tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juice and non-bottled water.

Soda: You can pay per soda or buy an unlimited soda card for the week.

Alcoholic Beverages - You'll pay for these* and they do add up quickly!

*Except at our Cocktail Party - drinks are free for that hour for Bead Cruise participants.

More Drink Tips:

Treat yourself to the drink of the day and you'll get a souvenir glass to go with it.

The cruise ship sells bottled water when you are getting off the ship to go to the islands or bring a refillable water bottle and fill it up in your room before you leave for the day. 

(Photo credit: Kanaka Menehue via Flickr's creative commons)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sponsor of the Week: Sue Beads

1. How long have you been making beads and is this your full-time job?

As of right now, yes, this is my full-time job. I learned to make beads about 6 years ago at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and have been selling them for about 5 years now. I started on ebay. I don't sell there anymore, but I sell on my web site ( and on etsy ( I also have a blog ( where you can see my new creations!

2. What are some of your inspirations when you create?

I tend to make earthy-type beads, but I have been known to be inspired by flowers, jewelry I see in catalogs, and dreams I have! Other artists also inspire me to go outside my comfort zone at times!

3. Do you have any tips for buying handmade glass beads?

Buying lampwork beads from china means you will not get kiln-annealed beads. These beads will eventually crack and/or explode. They are cheaper than artisan beads, but you get what you pay for! Buying beads from artisans who tell you they kiln-anneal their beads will mean you get genuine hand-made beads that have been properly heat treated in a kiln. You also want to make sure your dimples (the holes in the beads) are not sharp or pointy, they should be smooth. You should check your beads to make sure they are not wonky - that they are even all around and do not look pregnant on one end!

4. What is your favorite vacation spot and do you take beads to play with when you go on vacation?

Any island that is warmer than here is my favorite place! I do not usually take beads along, because all I want to do is read and lay in the sun and drink fruity drinks! If I brought beads, they would distract me from my main pursuits!

(Photo credit: all images from SueBeads)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beads on the Beach Shore Excursion

Well, maybe it should be called "Beaders on the Beach"!  I'm not sure if you will want to bring beads and miss out on all the beauty that can found at Chankanaab State Park.  This is where we will host our optional group shore excursion in Cozumel on the next Bead Cruise.

Enjoy the gardens, beach and more at the park.  There will be time for snorkeling for the adventurous. Cozumel is renowned for it's snorkeling and coral reefs.  The snorkeling is optional.  Walk along the beach or sit under a cabana.  The views here are spectacular.  For an extra fee you can swim with the dolphins! 

After snorkeling enjoy lunch in the restaurant on the beach.  You could also bring beads to play with, if you really can't go a day without them.  The friendly waitstaff will be happy to serve you drinks in a coconut. 

We'll finish this excursion with a little shopping near the pier. 

If you'd like to sign up for the Beads on the Beach shore excursion email our travel agent for more information.  The excursion is a private event for our Bead Cruise participants only.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Faux Patina Pendant Tutorial

Last year on the Bead Cruise I did a make-and-take using Vintaj altered blanks to create faux patina pendants.  Here are the directions.

Vintaj blanks
Rubber stamps
StazOn Ink Pad
Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabbers (Stream, Juniper, Lettuce and Pebble)
Renaissance Wax

1. Dab on the paint lightly, wipe the excess with a tissue.  You can wait for this coat to dry or dab on another one for a mixed paint effect.

2. Stamp with StazOn ink pad and rubber stamp.

3. After the pendant is completely dry, use a tissue to wipe on a thin coat of wax.  Let dry completely.  If you don't have wax you could use Matte Spray.

This example was domed first with a dapping block and punch.  Use an unmounted rubber stamp for domed pieces.

You can use domed pieces turned over as a bezel cup for trinkets and resin. 
1. Paint.  2. Stamp. 3. Add resin, 1/2 way.  Cure.  4. Add trinkets and more resin.  Cure again.

Part 1. Here is the link, in case you can't see the video.

Part 2. And the link.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

8 Ways to Have More Fun on Bead Cruise 2011

We have 8 spaces left - will you be one of the lucky ones to join us? 

Sign up today at

8 Ways to Have More Fun on Bead Cruise 2011
  1. Create a pendant for our pendant swap.
  2. Join in our design challenge onboard.
  3. Bead on the deck with other Bead Cruisers - drinks brought to your table - even better!
  4. Visit us in the evening for demos with the instructors.
  5. Enjoy a day of Beads on the Beach in Cozumel with us - this is our private group excursion.
  6. Make friends with your dinner tablemates, which are all Bead Cruise participants. 
  7. Mingle with your fellow bead obsessed buddies at our cocktail party.
  8. Join in the ship's nightlife - take in a show, visit the casino or attend one the parties on the deck. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sponsor of the Week: Vintaj

We are proud to have Vintaj as a Bead Cruise sponsor for 2011.  Vintaj is the source for natural brass findings, filigree and embellishments.  They also have a beautiful collection of Arte Metal findings in a black metal finish.  They have charms and pendants for any project or theme you can think up. 

Check out this cute project they have on their site - perfect for a cruise, don't you think?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Cruise Packing Lists

When it comes to packing for a cruise, each person has their own style.  Some pack light, others pack like Boy Scouts and are prepared for anything.

My tips for packing:
  • Bring comfy shoes - there is a lot of walking done on a cruise.
  • Dress in layers - you can be warm on the island and cool at night or in the dining room.
  • Bring outfits that can mix and match - it's okay to wear the same capris twice on a week long cruise.  I promise!
  • Pack an extra set of clothes, medication and your toiletries or anything you might need for the first night in a carry-on, sometimes suitcases arrive late.
  • Don't forget sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses for the islands.
  • Don't stress about the formal night, an outfit you'd wear to a wedding or church service is dressy enough.  Or you can pull out all the stops and wear that sequined dress you have tucked away.
An over-the-door shoe organizer is a great way to stow away toiletries, this works wonders if you are sharing a room with another gal.  Store it over the bathroom door to free up your counter space and keep everything handy.

And another packing list - this one has boxes you can check off before you print.

Do you have a packing tip to share?

(Photo credit: malias via the creative commons on Flickr.)