Art Elements Monthly Theme: Nests

Welcome to my blog post for the Art Elements Blog Theme for Nests (March 2018).

I think about nests in a few ways:

My nature brain thinks of the place where critters can safely rear their offspring.

My mother brain swirls about trying to figure out how to balance my life with kids and making art – nurturing both.

And my creative brain likes to have little collected items around in cubby nests to comfort and inspire me.

Little cubbies with objects from friends and loved ones…

In 2007 I lost my mom to Leukemia when I was 6 months pregnant with my daughter. I never thought I would go through losing my mom like that, and becoming a parent without my mom there with me. After Chloe was born, and I got my feet under me, it was time to look upon my creativity. I was super frustrated. So I grabbed some clay and a soft rubber tipped tool and just started making spirals.

Marsha Neal Studio Spiral Clay Texture Plate

Turned out this was a beginning of a whole new line for me. Some of the first pieces I made reminded me of nests. And since I was struggling with my “mom” nest and my “creativity” nest, I though of bird nests.

I asked my friend Nikki Thornburg to make me some glass birds with the wire coming out of the bottom so I could epoxy them into my little nest forms so I could put these into small house plants to help inspiration grow for anyone who happened to glimpse them.

Small side note: My mom is the person that introduced Nikki and me at a bead show we were both selling at. She was super excited to see all of her beautiful glass beads, she had me go over and look and meet this delightful lady. To this day she is one of my best bead family friends ever (a sister really)!

Bird Nests – Glass Beads made by Nikki Thornburg.

And I started making beads from these texture plates. Small beads, donut beads and lots of other fun things.

Marsha Neal Studio Texture Plates and Reverse Glazed Pieces

I do enjoy rolling out clay and just squishing it. It is quite therapeutic. Having this spiral texture gives the glaze a place to puddle in the final piece. Using my thumbs and hands I was able to form the flattened forms into these curved nest bead forms.

Nest forms and flattened spiral beads.

I am still working out ideas on how to suspend these nests forms. I was having fun just putting beads in the middle and waxed linen with knots – but there will be more (thinking of wire forms).

Marsha Neal Studio Nest Beads

Another thing I like to do is make these little footed bird nests. I usually make beads that are cone shaped – and I can expand them to make them hollow or spiral and squish the end and stick them to the bottom of the nest. Some people ask what they are supposed to hold. Thinking about this I often say tiny objects. But if you really think about it, they can contain big ideas and imagination.

Little footed nest forms.

Thanks to Cathy for picking out this theme for us to create work around. Check out these other artists that are participating in this months Art Elements “Nest” theme (make sure to see about the upcoming April theme tomorrow on the Art Elements Blog).

Guest Participants-










AE team members-








Marsha (you are Here)


Humble Beads – Bead Table Wednesday – Stacked Earrings

My friend Heather Powers, the artist behind hosts a weekly Bead Table Wednesday live video post through her Facebook page almost every Wednesday.

This week she created a pair of earrings with my textured disc beads, her polymer clay beads, Irish Waxed linen, and Vintaj ear wires. If you have some time, check out her videos because she has some wonderful design ideas and tips for techniques.

When she let me know she would be using some of my textured discs in her video, and posting kits on her website, I thought it would be a good idea to do an Etsy shop update myself (it has been far too long).

Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop Updated with Textured Disc Beads.

In Heathers video I loved that she gave 2 ways to make these earrings – with and without a bead on top. And when you watch her techniques, you may pick up a few things to put in your creative bank.

Make sure to like her Humble Beads FB page and check on Wednesdays at 1pm EST for her live videos.

And check out her Humble Beads website where you can pick up some of Heathers wonderful beads and for links to past Bead Table Wednesday Videos.

Bead Show Now – Bead Shop Now – Online Bead Show Now – Share Where You Shop via Social Media

Help spread the word where your local bead shows are by using #BeadShowNow

I am a big fan of shopping in person for handmade beads, strands and tubes of beads, lapidary items, tools and findings. If I can support a brick and mortar store or a bead show vendor so they can cover their costs, I will!

It used to be really easy to open a bead magazine and see ads for upcoming shows about 10 years ago. With the influx of social media and internet shopping I find that I am buying magazines less, and wanting to find out where shows are, but often experience: Darn! I just missed that show.

As a bead show vendor and a patron of bead shows and shops, I thought it would be great for people to use social media to help us figure out where we can find each other. Why not give it a try?!

Help promote brick and mortar bead shops by posting photos via Social media and use #BeadShopNow

Bead Shows and Bead Shops where you can physically go and shop are the main focus of these posts #BeadShowNow and #BeadShopNow

STEP 1: Go to a bead show or a bead shop and take photos of cool beads (you may want to ask the shop owner or bead show vendor if it is ok, and what their social media handle is).

STEP 2: Log into your social media platform and post your photos, making sure to tag the shop or vendor with their social media handle, use location for where the show or shop is, and make sure to use the #BeadShowNow or #BeadShopNow hashtags.

An example of what you would write attached to your photos may be:

Check out the awesome @MarshaNealStudio beads being sold at the #InnovativeBeadsExpo in Edison, NJ #BeadShowNow this weekend!

The @Name is the vendor/bead shop social media handle.

The #BeadShowNow is the subject you want to file this under (as of March 2018 Instagram shows up to 10 hashtags in your original post only).

If you are a vendor or bead shop owner, please DO post your own photos showing off your fabulous beads! And if you are lucky enough to have a customer come in and show off their beautiful finished piece with your beads, ask to grab a photo, get their social media handle and use #BeadShowAndTell or #BeadShopAndTell

If you have made something with beads from a bead show and want to show them off, please use the hashtag #BeadShowAndTell or #BeadShopAndTell to give us a peek and tag the artist/vendor/shop to help support their efforts!

If you want to promote your Online Bead Show Now use #OnlineBeadShowNow

For those of you selling through the internet or social media (Facebook Groups, Websites, Instagram, etc) use #OnlineBeadShowNow so you can post pictures of what you have and where you are going to be selling.

Please try to keep the hashtags clean so people can actually find what they are looking for and it does not become a complete mess and pointless to use.

If you want to create your own images or use these to help distinguish your post, please take a screen shot here or via Instagram. Change them however you want or make your own.

I used the Word Swag App to create these images and thanks to my friend Diane Hawkey for helping me with the #BeadShowAndTell hashtag (because Bead Show Bling – is just not where I wanted it to go…).

2018 Bead Shows

I LOVE BEAD SHOWS!!! Don’t you?!

Shopping at a Bead Show is the perfect time to hang out and shop with your friends that are into beads as much as you are (leave anyone at home that does not like to walk all day bending over looking at beads – they will thank you for it and it will gain you sanity).

If you go alone, you will be able to experience the bliss of shopping for exactly what you want all day!


I sell my beads in person at few of the larger bead shows every year. You can find my friend Darlene of D7 Studio selling some of my pieces at her beads show tables here in the Northeast US.

Here are the 2018 shows I have lined up so far!

April Spring 2018 Innovative Beads Expo at the Expo Center in Oaks, PA 

Classes & Shopping.

Shopping Friday & Saturday, April 7 & 8, 2018: 10am-6pm.

Sunday, April 9, 2018 10am-5pm.

April 2018 Spring Innovative Beads Expo Show Info

Go to the Innovative Beads Expo website and register early to avoid lines and use their coupon code: SIBEEC18 to get 50% off your weekend show pass. If you are taking a class (register online) you get FREE expo entrance all weekend!

You can also save this image, print it at home and bring it in for 50% off show admission:

April 6-8, 2018 Spring Innovative Beads Expo Show Coupon


Marsha Neal Studio New Chocolate Stoneware Beads right out of the kiln.

June 2018 Bead and Button Show at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, WI 

Classes & Shopping

Tuesday, June 5: Moonlight Madness (Hyatt Hotel Ballroom) 9-11pm

Preview Night Thursday, June 7: Registered Attendees (Convention Center) 4-8pm

Public Show Hours: Friday, June 8: 10am-7pm. Saturday, June 9: 10am-6pm. Sunday, June 10: 10am-4pm.


August 2018 Bead Fest Philadelphia at the Expo Center in Oaks, PA 

Classes & Shopping

Shopping* Friday-Sun. August 17-19, 2018.

*Show details will follow when the bead show website is updated.


Ceramic Art Bead Market Artist Showcase July 27 & 28, 2017

It has been quite a while since I’ve done an online Facebook Group show (maybe a year?). So it is about time to get my photos updated and new beads ready to find their homes!

You have to join the Ceramic Art Bead Market FB Group in order to bid on any of the pieces I am going to list in the next two days. I usually do only BIN (buy it now) listings, and some MTO (Made To Order). When a bead is listed, the first person to write BIN gets that listing. If you are really wanting a similar piece, just write MTO in the comments – or take a screen shot and send me a FB message to see if I have more or can make another close to it. I have had people even request for me to make them a focal bead that goes with a set of earrings, and if I can do it – I will because I love to make beads!

Here are some photos of my recent work, most of which will be posted in this group.

New Wearable Spoon Pendants.

Each one has a spiral on the back.

My ceramic disc beads are perfect for accents for bracelets too!

Some ideas for making earrings out of my ceramic bead pairs:

Marsha Neal Studio Ceramic Beads with Nikki Thornburg Bead Studio handmade glass headpins.

Marsha Neal Studio Ceramic Textured Disc Beads with Sari Ribbon, seed beads and Sue Kennedy Glass Headpins.

I plan on stocking up again for Bead Fest Philadelphia, where you can meet me in person and buy my work from me.

Close up of my glaze and texture on the sides of my large disc and donut beads.



Ceramic Artist. Garden and Nature Enthusiast.

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