Secret Beadalong – Days 4 & 5

So day 4 was not such a good day for me. I lost my nerve as regards my colour scheme, and switched in my etched rainbow coppers in place of my matte dark metal. Because they are etched they are a bit smaller, so the netting surrounding the superduos was a bit thready.

So I unpicked that and tried again with my antique copper highlight beads.

They looked much better, but when I got to the rope on day 5 I realised that gave me way too much copper in comparison with the other beaded beads.

So I ripped out the central section (just a few steps worth) and switched in the correct dark grey beads, which has toned it down nicely. Without some copper I think this bead would have been too different from the rope to wear alone, whereas now it has a connection.

So onto the rope, which should take up days 5-7 (although I've only spent one evening in it thanks to all the indecisiveness around day 4). It's lovely. Pay attention to the instructions, they are very clear so I have no excuse, but I messed up the first couple of inches by getting the 8s to sit vertically rather than horizontally. Not only is this very fiddly to do, and much slower, it gives you a very inflexible rope with far too much thread showing. Once I twigged I was able to switch to the correct orientation and now it's beading up more easily, and has a nice curve. I'm definitely thinking of making some bangles using this rope – the maximum curvature feels like it would be spot on for a rigid bangle, it's easy and relaxing to bead a whole armful, and it looks great.

So I have a few more hours ahead of beading the rope, and need to dig out a clasp. I had been planning to use one of the Anna Bronze clasps I've just bought, but I can see now that the finished piece will work well with one, two, three or even none of the beaded beads, so I need to ensure that the clasp doesn't stop me sliding them on and off, so may simply have to obey Jean and get a S clasp.


Secret Beadalong 2017 – Day 3

There is something very lovely about RAW done in bicones.  Partly because they are so expensive that doing a sheet of them is rather wanton, but mainly because they fit together so beautifully in their squares.  So I really enjoyed day 3, beading it really slowly and relishing the extravagant luxury of forming such beauty into a lovely net of sparkles.  Yummy.


Above you can see it with the fat form of days 1&2 and anunembellished tube ready for day 4.



Secret Beadalong 2017 – Prep work and Day 1

As you know once again I’m taking part in Jean Power’s Secret Beadalong for the Beadworker’s Guild’s National Beading Week – you can read about the beads I’ve chosen and find links to last year’s here.  I finished my prep work just in time, and here’s my first day’s beading.  After some self doubt around colour choice (the prep work was all in a lovely but for me rather restrained matte pewter), I’m feeling much happier now I’ve moved onto adding in some copper.


My sister Susie (from BeadingBySusie), with me this week and also beadingalong, has stuck to a more characteristic bright palette.   Our colour choices for joint projects are often similarly bright – she’s usually on the blue/turquoise side, with me on the red/fuchsia, but always both bright, so this is really highlighting my departure from the norm.



Secret Beadalong 2017 – Picking Beads

So things have been a bit quiet around here lately as I have spent much of my beading time working on a couple of competitions.  For a blog that aims to show my working process, competition pieces are a bit useless as I have to keep them hidden away, and then by the time I can show them to you the moment has passed.  But they are both done now, with one out in the world (more about that soon) and another about to be, so I can move on and start to focus on this year’s Jean Power Secret Beadalong.

So for those of you who are new to this, for the last couple of years the wonderful Jean Power has put together a ‘Secret Beadalong’ – a pattern which is beaded over a series of days which span the UK Beadworker’s Guild’s National Beading Week.  I’ve done both years and loved them, and thousands of other beaders across the globe have also participated.  You can read about the previous years starting here (2015) and here (2016), or have a look at the piccies on the Facebook Group Jean set up for us to share our progress, and of course learn more on Jean’s website.

This year the requirements list rather usefully including suggestions for which beads should be a contrast, compliment and so on.  This is really helpful as of course we don’t know what we will be making, so can’t use images etc of the finished piece to look at the juxtaposition of the different beads when picking colours (something I’m a little bit obsessive about), but there’s quite a few beads to juggle into the mix so I made a sheet to help me (which I share here with Jean’s support!).  Please feel free to use it yourself, or even make your own like Sam Wescott did.


And then I got picking – part of me wanted to make a really bright piece, with lots of yellow (as I have a lovely new navy dress with a dark yellow band around the hem).  The other part of me wanted to make something more neutral and versatile, that I could wear with lots of different outfits.

The brights went well, although I had trouble sourcing the right quantity of Cherry Red Neon Superduos, and got a bit stuck on the bicones as crystals don’t always tend to work as well in a multicoloured scheme.

The metallics also progressed well but seemed a bit dull until I remembered that I might be able to work in my favourite etched beads, and then things went ‘pop’.  Working in a mix of crystals (rose gold and some neutral opals with lovely 2x AB coatings) brought some pale blues from the AB in, and some new etched rainbow copper beads pick that up as well.


So the beads I have picked (and where I’ve got them from) are:

A – Vintage Copper SuperDuo (Old Bicycle Shop and Robin’s Beads)

B – Pastel Light Grey SuperDuo (Robin’s Beads)

Main – Etched Crystal Rainbow Copper Czech seeds (Bead Stampede)

Highlight – Coated Crystal Vintage Copper (Stitch N Craft)

Contrast – Miyuki 2002 Matte Metallic Silver Grey (The Half Moon Bead Shop)

Bicones – Swarovski Light Grey Opal AB2, Air Blue Opal AB2, Sand Opal AB2 and Rose Gold (Gemstone Boutique)

So now I’m onto the prep work and I’ll share that with you shortly.




Those of you that follow me on Facebook or Instagram will know that recently I’ve been playing with Pebeo paints and Liberty fabrics to make my own cabochons.  It’s been an interesting diversion, and it’s still got a way to run as I hone the processes and get used to the paints.  It’s quite satisfying to be able to sit down and play with colours so quickly, never quite knowing how they will turn out but not having had to commit too much time.  I’ve had to try lots of different processes and materials, and source a whole new set of supplies, and now I’m getting good results I’m even beginning to use the finished cabs in my beadwork.

Anyway, once I’m happy with the process I’ll share it here so you can play too, and hopefully I’ll also make some of the cabs available in one of my shops (perhaps with some instructions for bezelling?).   But in the meantime here are some pictures of my experiments so far.


Materials Packs

I’ve just realised I forgot to update you here about the addition of a new set of Materials Packs  for my Baroque Tape Measures.  As I said in my previous post, the plan is to stick with a set of colourways going forward, rather than building each pack individually, as this allows me to hold more of each one in stock.  I’ll vary the sets over time, but for now these are the colourways:


Tequila Sunrise – my current favourite Yellow Opal rivolis, with my always favourite 407FR light red opaque matte rainbow seeds, and silver and orange to make a fun cocktail.


Fuchsia and Bronze – the original and I still think the best!  The garnet AB rounds are a favourite, and this time I’ve included some lovely Halo coated fire-polisheds.


Red and Gold – a splendiforous luxurious colourway, for VIP measurements.  Lots of Swarovski Light Siam, one of their most intense colours.  This would work well with the red colourway in my Space Needle Case.


Turquoise, Silver & Scarlet – more Light Siam, this time mixed with opaque turquoise and silver for a Mediterranean feel.  This is a variant on one I made for myself a while back, shown below, but with some adjustments to balance the red and turquoise more effectively (it had too much turquoise on the edge and red in the middle, so I’ve swapped the rounds and fire-polisheds over for the pack).


DSC_0398Vitrail, Lime & Silver – Medium Vitrail rivolis and shiny rounds, with a silver base and lime and turquoise highlights to pick out some of the colours in the rivoli.  I really love the opaque lime fire-polisheds with a half Vitrail coating in this.


Fuchsia and Dark Plum – born initially of a bronze bead shortage, this grew into a lovely dark, intense colour way.

Sadly, because I’ve been so slow posting, the Fuchsia and Bronze has sold out, and the Fuchsia and Dark Plum I replaced it with has also sold out.  I hope to have one or both of them back in stock soon, but in the meantime this week I’ve listed the new Vitrail sets (which may not appear that often as the rivolis are more expensive and the other beads can be harder to source).  Anything I have is available in my Etsy shop here, or by clicking on the pictures (in the case of those still available), in my Folksy shop.   Do let me know if you have any ideas for colour ways you’d like me to make I the future.