National Beading Week

Here in the UK the Beadworker’s Guild’s National Beading Week will begin tomorrow (25th July).  There are lots of activities all over the country, at Bead Groups and in shops, but as I am a bit constrained by work and it bring the school holidays, I’m joining the beading community remotely in a few different ways.  Firstly, I’m taking part in Jean Power’s Secret Bead Along – I’ve completed my prep work which you can see at the top of this post with my beads all ready, and a bit of day 1 (a bit early but I couldn’t wait, photos tomorrow).  As you can see I have chosen very subtle colours.

Anyway, you can read all about it on Jean’s site or read my blog post containing the details here.  I’ll be popping a quick blog post out every day to show progress, and you can follow lots of other beader’s work on the Secret Beadalong Facebook group which Jean has set up.  Over 4000 beaders worldwide have signed up for this, which is absolutely amazing – Jean has done an amazing thing and it’s really very exciting and inspiring taking part.  For me the lovely thing is knowing that so many other beaders will be working on the same piece at the same time.  That includes that my little sister Susie Hoad, who I taught to beadweave a few years ago and got hooked on Jean’s work.  She is now a designer and teacher in her own right, and we plan to finish the last day’s beading together next Saturday, which will be just lovely.  Being Susie she is doing two colourways  (but she is a teacher so I guess she has nothing to do now school has broken up – or could it be that indecisiveness runs in the family?).

Secondly I’m going to kick off a project for this blog to celebrate the awesome range of beadweaving going on around the world – ‘Beading Beaded Beads’.  I’m going to be coming back to one of my original reasons for blogging – to show, review & comment on tutorials and patterns by other designers (as well as writing about my own original work).  I’ve put together a range of beaded beads, some from books & tutorials I already own, some from free tutorials, and some of my own designs, and the idea is that over the coming months I will focus on beading them.  I’ll be working from my stash, so I’m going with two colourways (as even my stash won’t accommodate the range of beads required to complete the various designs in one colour scheme) – bright fuchsia, lime, scarlet and orange, and fuchsia (again), indigo, cobalt and a bit of silver and gunmetal.  Hopefully I will end up with two very spectacular necklaces.  You can see the initial cut of designs on a Pinterest Board here, if you have any suggestions (or designs you’d like me to road test) then comment here or on Facebook and I’ll give them a try too.

I started beading earlier this week, and was hoping to have the first beaded bead to show off for the start of National Beading Week, but sadly the first beaded bead did not go well.  Out of fairness to the designer I’m going to have another go before I post about it………….probably just me being tired and being a bit of a tight beader.

Completion

I’m not great at finishing things – as well as the usual UFO box of failed projects I even have a box full of nearly finished projects. Brooches needing brooch pins, pendants needing only a jump ring, and of course tutorial pieces needing writing up.
Seeing so much bead embroidery in the Battle of the Beadsmith reminded me that about 3 years ago I had a go at it, and had an almost finished piece cluttering up my beading cupboard. So I girded my loins, dug out my bead embroidery book (Jamie Cloud Eakin’s dimensional Bead Embroidery) and worked out how to finish it. And finish it I have.

I’m quite pleased with it, but made a couple of errors which mean it will be staying with me rather than going into the shop………….

  • I made a booboo when I was cutting out the backing, forgetting the remnants of a sticky label.  Which doesn’t look great.
  • I looked at the big roll of heavy interfacing in my sewing drawer and said ‘ I can use that, not this ridiculously expensive beading stiffener’.  This might have worked for a flat piece, but didn’t work for a bracelet as the interfacing has folded slightly, so I don’t have a smooth curve.

On the bright side, the faux suede upholstery fabric I used (I started this so long ago I hadn’t heard of ultrasuede) does seem to be fine – it’s nice to work with and hasn’t frayed at all.  Since it’s one of a large wad of samples I bought at a fabric sale I’m quite pleased since I now have a huge range of colours of backing to choose from.

image

So here it is, my first completed bead embroidery piece – beads from my stash, a polaris clasp from Stitch N Craft and backing from my overstuffed fabric drawer.  I’ve enjoyed the process more than I thought I would – I have always perhaps slightly looked down on bead embroidery, feeling it doesn’t have the engineering and construction challenges of the 3D beadweaving I’m more used to, but it does give an opportunity to paint with beads, and really make the most of the finishes and colours.  Since finishing this I’ve made two more pieces, more about them soon (once they make it out of the nearly finished box!).