Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The best of 2014 -I-

sparkle strands bracelets


It's not hard to tell why these bracelets ranked at the top of my 2014 posts. People love crystals. I love crystals. Maybe more than life itself (ok maybe not but close). Sparkly strands combine into one stretch bracelet for easy wearing. Smart right? Check these out.
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candy shoppe amulet necklaces


This is even one of my own favs of '14. Can't tell why?! Try links of sparkly candy-like beads, matched with dangly pendants for a haute hippie mood. These are the best necklaces for layering. No lies.
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barcelona earrings


Chainmaille made easy, trust me. I've got step-by-step deets with pictures to go along with each step. I've added gemstone dangles to this design to create a more bohemian (and less Viking) look. Cool, right?!
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buddha bangle bracelet


Seriously, this bracelet is a snap to make. No wonder why it's been so popular. Those dangly golden charms and metallic-coated crystals create a simply chic piece.
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fiesta frenzy bracelets


If you are #obsessed with bracelets this is the tutorial for you. I've got 10 (yes t-e-n) tutorials in one here. I'm mixing bright, bold colors with plenty of sparkles and different jewelry-making materials.
☆ View the post here

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Beaded Gypsy Belts -I-

Silver + turquoise + chain + a little gypsy = these super awesome beaded belts!

I've created two styles here, one Tribal Silver one and this Beachy Shell one. I will show you the steps I took to create the Tribal Silver one, because the shell one was really just a variation on the technique.

These belts are totally versatile. You can add them to jeans, wear over an oversized sweater, layer them up, or even over a maxi dress for style of all kinds.

The Beachy Shell belt includes mother of pearl beads, turquoise Czech faceted rondelles, agate disc beads, and hematite 3mm rounds. With mixed metal findings (copper and antique gold) and finished with faux leather, it totally has that hippie vibe.

But let's get back to this Tribal Silver one. I was inspired by California beach style to create this belt, incorporating cool colors of turquoise, opaline and chalcedony faceted rounds with bright silver pendant discs, and adding coin charms to complete that almost "Nepalese market" look.

You may think that beading on so many of these large disc pendants would look super gaudy, but I think it totally works! Here I have it layered with another silver belt I got while in Arizona, and as you can see, the look is totally gypsy-chic. 

What's great about this belt is that I've only beaded the front part, while the back part is chain, which makes for easy wearing. It lays so nice this way and is surprisingly light.

I'll explain more about the Beachy Shell belt after I show you how to make this one.
Are you ready?

Step 1: Gather materials. Needed are:
Large silver emblem pendants (mine from PandaHall)
Small silver beads (optional)
Beading wire (mine from Cousin)
Jumprings and a lobster clasp
Chain (mine from Cousin)

-Any other beads or charms or even those little boho bell charms would work great. You don't have to use exactly what I said here, this is just a reference! -

Start laying out your arrangement. What I did was alternate between the big pendant beads, the gemstone rounds and the teardrops. 

Start beading this arrangement on two strands of beading wire for sturdiness. I beaded enough so that it went around the front of my waist, because the back I will be just using chain for. 
I had pre-measured this chain and beaded part so that they both equaled my total waist (make it loose though, and it's ok to add a little more chain so it's adjustable). Make sure you have two pieces of chain (one about 4" longer than the other because this is the adjustable part).
On one of the ends, simply add a crimp or two and pass through one end of the chain, then back through the crimp, crimping shut and finishing with a crimp cover. Finish off the other side this way, but crimping to the other  the chain. 

Add a clasp on one side of the chain, then finish with a teardrop chain drop on the other side. I also embellished this beaded part a little by adding smaller chain (attached with jump rings) between the central beads and central pendant. I added Cousin coin charms and a teardrop pendant. Feel free to add as many or as little embellishments as you'd like!

I think these coin charms are discontinued, but you can find plain copper ones here. 

Here I have it layered over a sweater dress. Really, anything works!

Now, this shell belt incorporates the same techniques; the beaded part is on beading wire, and I switched out the chain for faux leather which make it tie-on.

I created charms from headpins for the agate discs. Then, dangled even more hematite beads from them for movement and shine.

I grouped three disc bead links made with the headpins together, then grabbed both ends and added them to a jump ring. I alternated these with Mother of Pearl discs and turquoise crystals.

This is a daintier belt, which works great for styling with cutoffs (these I bleached and ombre'd - super easy) by adding it through the belt loops. I added that Arizona belt on top, or you can leave by itself for a daintier look.

I feel this is a great summer accessory, but you could totally wear in winter/ colder weather. I would style this with dark denim skinny jeans, brown booties, and an oversized cream-colored tunic top. 

As you can see, these belts are just blank canvases for your creativity. What I love about these is that it's a great way to use my bigger beads that I wouldn't have necessarily used in a necklace or bracelet. Take my techniques here and change up the format to fit your style.

I could totally see a copper metal / turquoise gemstone / silver bead accent palette working here for a Southwestern-style belt.
If you're girly, use pearls, crystals and even ribbon here (instead of the leather on the beachy belt). 
If you're goth, go with a palette of black crystals, onyx beads and black leather.

So many possibilities!

I'll surely be making tons more of these!

Thanks for reading!

All photos copyright Allison Beth Cooling.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Rakul Preet Red Georgette Anarkali Suit -I-

Rakul Preet Red Georgette Reception Wear Anarkali Suit.  Look traditional in this Rakul Preet red georgette reception wear anarkali suit. This suit is enhanced with attractive embroidery enhanced with zari, resham, stone and lace border work. It comes with matching bottom and dupatta.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christkindlmarket 2014 -I-

'Tis the season.

In Chicago, that means it's time for the Chirstkindlmarket.  

Mimicking the large outdoor Christmas markets of Europe, vendors upon vendors line up in Daley Plaza, looking to sell their wares. 

There are booths filled with shiny ornaments, German food delicacies -not really anything for vegans :( - handcrafted cuckoo clocks from the Black Forest (Schwarzwald), figurines, bath and body products and more.

The streets are lined with twinkling lights, 

…and evergreen decorations pop up everywhere. 

The little caramel-colored wood huts are super cute, complete with the bold stripe canopies.

Handmade confections line the shelves, and this stand was even making caramel candies in front of us, in large copper kettles.

German specialties, mostly gingerbread or lebkuchen, were the hot sellers. Other iced, decorated, sugar-topped and chocolate dunked types of cookies (kekse) were arranged in like colors and flavors.

Of course, there were enough chocolate (chokolade) Santas to feed all of Bavaria.

Tubs of colorful, foil-wrapped candies in contrasting colors shine bright, beckoning kids of all sorts to grab a few handfuls to take.

Ladybugs - strange yet cute.

Caramel and cheese corn are stacked high, displayed in the window giving the whole shop an orangey glow.

As you move past the Sweet Castle, you'll find rows of handmade ornaments. Here, precious and delicate glass creatures hang from floss like string, reflecting the sun through the colored glass and creating a dream-like aura. I liked the dragon dude the best. 

Slabs of santas hung a little precariously, especially considering of the infamous Chicago winds.

Little German flags line the stands, of course, adding a festive vibe.

Pretty handcut wooden ornaments line up in woven straw baskets, in various Christmasy shapes.

A manger meets the Menorah on the outskirts of Daley Plaza.

I loved this stand - even though these ornaments weren't shiny, the intricate patterns of the wood grain created an organic texture that I was diggin'.

The Ornament Haus - baubles galore in every color sparkled and glistened, creating a very holiday-like aura.

There were magentas, pinks and purples….

…silvers, champagnes and creams….

…ooh, and the infamous pickles.

Friendly psychedelic mushrooms reminded me of something from Alice in Wonderland.

I loved the feathers and elegant vibes of these bird ornaments.

Glitter drenched pinecones in every color and size were perhaps the most sparkly.

Dipped icicle spears are some of my favorites; a little edgy, yet certainly chic!

And there's more of the gingerbread! Around every corner. Frohe Weihnacht (Merry Christmas) was the common saying.

And the big tree - I captured it in bokeh. 

In the other Ornament Haus, (yes, there were many) featured these groovy mini Bug ornaments - super hippie. Love.

This was a cool idea; layer wire-wrapped glass ornaments on spiral white branches for a Winter Wonderland decoration. The contrasting lime and bright magenta here make for a modern palette.

There were a select few booths selling merchandise from outside Germany. Some had handcrafted woven sweaters from Nepal, ornaments from Poland and Canada, and more. This stand had super cool star paper lights. Totally gypsy/bohemian/star child = yes.

Alas! The cuckoo clocks. These are intense! All handcrafted from wood in the Black Forest. Boss.

Here's the Polish ornaments….

...and these curious little glass animals (less than 1" big!) from Canada. Which is your fav?

As we left Daley Plaza, we walked towards Macy's on State.

More Christmas cheer here, of course!

Ceilings like you'd see in Marrakech, right?

Umm… can I have this in my room?

The Walnut Room featured their annual decorated tree - this year, a very bubblegum pink scheme, with contrasting chrome decorations.

More bokeh, I love a dreamy vibe.

We walked back to the train, the adventure over.

One last photo that caught my eye; these grand golden doors, something that Midas would have touched. Kind of obsessed with the regality of these. Until next year!

Auf Wiedersehen!

All photos copyright Allison Beth Cooling - do NOT POST OR USE without linking to me and crediting me.