Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Guest Blogger JUNE Wiseman.....yes, I said JUNE!!!

Two of my favorite people on Planet Bead are Jill and June Wiseman, their banter on Facebook, from different computers in the same house, makes me smile, laugh and sometimes have fits of hysterical, hyperventilating, tear streaming giggle fits. They should be a sit-com.  They tell what its really like living and working full-time in the bead world but with a humor that just makes you happy you're in the same world.  As 'star' Jill gets more and more of the limelight (well deserved) I thought I'd shine a little spotlight on June.
So I'm happy to welcome....

June Wiseman

Birth of a Kit
I’m June Wiseman, the mother of Jill Wiseman, part of Jill Wiseman Designs, formerly Tapestry Beads. Most people know of Jill’s designs, but don’t know that I also design for the business. While Jill is our “front man” (front woman? front person? Front clown?), I generally work more behind the scenes.
A lot of people ask us how we come up with our ideas. Many designers have tried to answer this question. Usually their answers involve being inspired by architecture, nature, etc.  And to some extent, that’s true – sometimes you’ll see something and try to figure out how to represent it in beads. Being a simple girl, I tend to use less esoteric methods.

Design Technique 1: What if?
What if I used a size 15 bead instead of an 11? What if I used a twin bead here? That’s exactly how our Shell Game came about. Working a double spiral variation, I wondered what it would look like if I used bugles instead.

Shell Game has been one of our most popular kits in 2013.
Design Technique 2: A goal
Another way I design is to start with an idea of what I want to accomplish. For example, I knew I wanted to do some kind of a bracelet with flowers on it.  I decided to use netting for a base, because I knew I would be embellishing it, and I didn’t want the bracelet to get too heavy. After I finished the base, I pulled a bunch of beads, and started playing. I experimented until I came up with a flower that I thought would work. I made probably 10-12 variations before I was happy with it. Sometimes Jill thinks I’m nuts with trying to get it just right, but then I think she’s nuts, so we’re even. And besides, I’ve seen her do the same thing to get it right.
After I found a flower I was happy with, I made a bunch of them in related colors, then laid them out on the netted base. I decided I would need some leaves to fill in.  I made the leaves on the base first, then sewed the flowers on, using a crystal to add a pop and help secure the flowers on the base. The result was our Ramblin’ Roses.  We refer to the color below as “blurple”. It’s a technical term.

Design Technique 3: Start with what you love
I love spiral herringbone, and decided to make a lariat using it. Really, it was just an excuse to do herringbone and pretend I was working. I had a vague idea of incorporating flowers on it. After I finished the length of the lariat, I went back and added some leaves and little flowers. The leaves are fairly common, and I had also previously used them other bracelets. For the flowers, I just started experimenting again until I came up with a small bunch of color that I liked. For the ends, I did branching, again with my leaves, and experimented to get a slightly larger pop of color for the flowers.  

After I finished it, I wore it for a few days. We try to do this with all our designs, to see if they are really wearable. What I found was that the small flowers and leaves at the back of my neck got all tangled up in my hair. So I went back and ripped out the embellishment at the back. The result was Twining Vine.
I deliberately made Twining Vine without crystals to make it a little less flamboyant. (Jill said, "What? No crystals? Are you nuts?") Sometimes, particularly during the daytime, not everyone wants flashy and blingy. So then, of course, people asked for me to make a more flashy and blingy Twining Vine. Our good friend DollyAhles said she thought black, gold, and pink would be pretty. Jill didn’t think so. I ignored Jill and made Sparkling Twining Vine. I used Swarovski crystals, and made the branching longer. It turned out great and really is a head-turner. Thanks, Dolly!

Making the Actual Kit
After a project is designed, photos are taken, and the instructions are written. Supplies are ordered – Jill does the ordering and whines about it all along the way. We get seed bead amounts in kilos and half-kilos. If the Feds monitored her e-mail, they’d think she was a drug dealer. 
Our bead room was converted from a bedroom. We have shelves and shelves of seed beads in plastic storage containers.  We have a revolving rack for Swarovski and firepolish crystals. And we have a large seed bead stash for designing. 

When we’ve received the supplies, we start makingthekits. Before a big show, we spend weeks and weeks makingthekits. This is when I start whining.

We generally make between 15-20 kits for a new design initially. Take Ramblin’ Roses as an example. There are 7 colors of size 11 seed beads in the kit, plus crystals, snaps, Fireline, and needles. To make 20 kits in 2 colors, we’ll use 520 plastic bags. Of those, 440 will have labels printed and put on them. We calculate the amount of seed beads for each color and weigh them out.  When all the contents are weighed or counted and bagged, we put them in a larger baggie to keep them all together.

Instructions and kit covers are done on a color laser printer, and we go through reams and reams of paper. A cover, the instructions, and the baggie with the kit contents are put in a 6 x 9 inch baggie, and the kit is ready to go out the door.  It can get tedious when you’re making lots of kits in lots of different colorways.

What I hope you take from this blog is that giving birth to a design is easier than giving birth to a child. If you want to design, try asking “what if” and then experiment. Start with what you love. You may just come up with something fabulous. Oh, and the other thing you should know? Makingthekits isn’t always fun. And Jill whines.


  1. I so enjoyed this blog from June. Especially the part about 'whining' children. I have some of those. But I also love her storage ideas. Yay!!

  2. "What if?" is my favorite creative prompt! :) Wonderful post, June.

  3. I was smiling the whole I read this! My take-away....there's no one way to design so do what works for you. :)

  4. Thank you so much, June, for blogging! I also love the June and Jill show on facebook! You two are so fun! I think they should add "makingthekits" to the dictionary, lol! I love the lariats. :)

  5. fun and great blog, and I would watch the June and Jill sitcom if they were to get it on the t.v whats the possibility of getting that happening ?

  6. Now we know where Jill gets it!! very funny and informative. We don't often think about your end of the business.

  7. Interesting read and good to know what you're getting into if someone were thinking of making kits and tutorials. Often, the end user doesn't know what the process is.

  8. You know you have my admiration on the kit making. I still have those two dozen still waiting to be finished. I always manage to miss ordering something and I can guarantee the thing I missed is always on back order. Then I loose momentum.

  9. What fun! Thanks for the interesting read.