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Green Squidy

Thank you to all of the beaders who purchased the limited edition Blue Squidy component packs. Sadly they are now all gone and it looks like I can’t get the cabs again, so they’re even more unique than promised!

Fret not though, for now we have new Green and everso slightly bigger Squidy – gorgeous dyed agate cabs (once again you can select your own cab from the list), a new colourway of lovely Hope Jacare hand dyed silk ribbons, and superlush lime lacquer Swarovski chaton eyes, with matching goldwork wires and backings, so he’ll be even livelier than my sample (which has blue zircon eyes). These cabs are a teeny bit wider round the middle than the original cabs (although they claim to be the same size) so you’ll also get a revised paper template so you don’t run out of space for the beads!

Green Component Pack

I had two cabs from the blue batch left which were probably not bought because they’re a bit paler than the rest so didn’t work as well with the strong blues. I’ve now paired them with new ribbons in softer colours, using a different set for each cab so these two colourways are genuinely unique and can’t be repeated. One makes the most of the lovely soft heather colours which Clare at Hope Jacre is so good at, and the other has mossier blues and greens with hints of peach and lilac. Yummy – please buy them before I’m tempted to steal them for myself!

As with the previous component packs these just include the hard to find elements – you’ll need to add your own beads. Have a look here to see the exact requirements for beads, you’re sure to have them in your stash already, and you only need a tiny quantity of each, and can mix and match as you please. You will also need to purchase the tutorial. If you’re after the wires needed, then you’ll be happy to know I now also sell these in my Etsy shop too!

Goldwork embroidery

The eagle eyed among you may have spotted that I’m now selling Goldwork wires in my Etsy shop. I have a variety of colours of 1mm smooth purl, 1mm and 1.25mm pearl purl and some new and very pretty 1.5mm spiral purl. They’re all lovely quality enamelled copper wires from India, where they’re used in beautiful embroidered fabrics, and I use them myself in my bead embroidery work by employing a mix of goldwork and bead embroidery techniques, mainly (but not always) working on hard felt. Here are some examples:

I’ve also put together some 20g mixed bargain packs which are ideal for having a play with these wires . They contain a mix of different complimentary colours and textures/types of smooth, check, spiral and cut purl, so you’ll be able to work them into a range of goldwork techniques and styles, and hopefully are very good value tasters. If you purchase one then please add ‘BLOG’ to the ‘comments to seller’ section when you checkout on Etsy and I’ll throw in a free length of pearl purl for you to say ‘thank you’ for reading my blog.

Where Corals Lie

This trio of boxes were inspired by a beautiful poem by Richard Garnett, set to song by Elgar in his song cycle ‘Sea Pictures’. They were my entry in the Previous Winners category of this year’s Beadworker’s Guild Annual Challenge. The theme this year was ‘Fantasy’ and I’m happy to say that they won their class.

When I get some time I’ll tell you more about how I made them, and hopefully show some better pictures (these were taken in a tearing hurry one morning just before lockdown as I rushed to get them packed and sent before it became impossible) but for now here is the artist’s statement I submitted with the work to the judges, along with the text of the poem. To really understand though how as a singer Elgar‘s wonderful song inspired me to bead them, I’d recommend listening to it here.

A rose gold ship in the shallows betwixt shore and deep is joined by almost invisible sirens, whilst alongside a whale comes up from the depths to greet her ethereal friends, and the coral filled shallows are dotted with hidden holes for a mermaid’s treasures.

Techniques – bead embroidery, peyote, goldwork embroidery.

Materials – Miyuki and Czech beads; Swarovski crystals and pearls; vintage, new & hand cut sequins; goldwork wires; found coral; acrylic rods; hard felt; bentwood boxes.

Where Corals Lie – Richard Garnett

The deeps have music soft and low

When winds awake the airy spry,

It lures me, lures me on to go

And see the land where corals lie.

The land, the land, where corals lie.

By mount and mead, by lawn and rill,

When night is deep, and moon is high,

That music seeks and finds me still,

And tells me where the corals lie.

And tells me where the corals lie.

Yes, press my eyelids close, ’tis well,

Yes, press my eyelids close, ’tis well,

But far the rapid fancies fly

To rolling worlds of wave and shell,

And all the land where corals lie.

Thy lips are like a sunset glow,

Thy smile is like a morning sky,

Yet leave me, leave me, let me go

And see the land where corals lie.

The land, the land, where corals lie.

Shrinking

I have a new addiction.  Don’t worry, it’s still bead related, I haven’t lost the plot.

A few months back Marcia DeCoster and other American beaders started sharing pictures of work they were doing with shrink plastic – specifically with Shrinkets, and this work was quite interesting.  Quite interesting because the Shrinkets brand is run by the lovely Julie Isaacs Haymaker, and she’s a shrink genius.  She’s a master of decoration and techniques, and on top of that has developed a series of moulds which can be used to shape the shrink whilst it’s hot – curving, doming, fluting and generally making what to me had been a flat medium more enticing. 

I watched this from afar, not quite able to justify the cost of shipping Julie’s mould sets from the US to the UK, and then a lovely thing happened.  Super bead emporium Stitch n Craft starting selling them – well it was fate, I had to have some.  I bought moulds and pre-cuts, joined Julie’s Shrinkets Facebook group and started reading and playing.

Initially I stuck to the methods I saw most in the group – coloured pencil ‘doodles’.  Then I started using more naturalistic techniques, shading and blending.  Each batch was different, but great fun to do.

Some point after batch 2 I realised I wasn’t going to be able to afford to only use Julie’s pre-cuts (plus Stitch and Craft kept selling out), so I bought a little Sizzix Sidekick die cutter, and scoured the internet for interesting Thinlits dies.  It’s quite tricky to get ones which are under the  6cm Sidekick plate size, but still big enough to be worth drawing on and shrinking, but I’ve got a decent selection now, so you can see more shapes from Batch 3 onwards.  And I bought more coloured pencils – you need a good quality wax based pencil and I’m getting on really well with a set from Faber Castell, and like a true shrink pro and stationary addict I made a sample sheet on paper and on shrink (also with test holes and measurements so I can get the sizing right):

Then came a much needed break away for our summer holidays – not the holidays we had planned, but under the current circumstances still lovely.  Coming back fresh, and finally getting the boys back to school and getting a little time to myself, I started trying some new techniques – helped by other group members who share so freely their knowledge.  I tried more abstract designs, worked with circles instead of flowers, made rings and little cups.


I had some acrylic inks, and had used them to create a mottled plain base colour which I then embellished after shrinking with embossing powders.  Then wondered if I could be more ‘painterly’ – grabbed a brush and painted, cut and shrank an abstract batch:

I played with some cheap alcohol inks – making blotchy designs and then augmenting them with pen and pencil doodles using a technique shared in the group by Kim van Antwerp (who sells amazing Shrinkets components here).

And that’s where I am now, and I think where I will stay for a bit.  I’ve made a lot of shrunk beads, and learnt a lot, but finally this week I got to the point where I wanted to bead something with them.  I bought an amazing petri resin cabochon from Designer Cabochons, and it arrived just as I shrank the first alcohol ink batch.  So I did another batch specifically to match the cab, then made them all into a bead embroidered pendant, and I love it. 

If you’d like to learn more about working with Shrinkets, please do look at Julie’s amazing website, or join the Facebook group here. And do ask me about the techniques and materials I’ve used in the comments.

Secret Beadalong Day 8

With just a few days left of International Beading week as well as looking after my Etsy shop with a lovely 20% discount on all tutorials, I’m as usual doing Jean Power’s Secret Beadalong – Day 8 joins the pairs of rivolis together but leaves some mysterious gaps? One more day to go and I’m starting to have an idea of where we’re going but still not sure!

If you’d like to join in it’s not too late – pop over to Jean’s website and sign up! If you just want to watch then you can see what we are all up to on her Secret Beadalong Facebook page.

Secret Beadalong Day 7

As usual for International Beading Week I’m doing Jean Power’s Secret Beadalong – Day 7 completes the skirt on the lovely Bermuda Blue dome crystal and adds a long strap. Lots and lots of herringbone in 15s…….

If you’d like to join in it’s not too late – pop over to Jean’s website and sign up! If you just want to watch then you can see what we are all up to on her Secret Beadalong Facebook page.

Secret Beadalong Day 6

As usual for International Beading Week I’m doing Jean Power’s Secret Beadalong – Day 6 is quite a substantial bead, adding a skirt to the domed stone’s bezel. I’m working in the stripes I used in the bezel so there is a lot of bead swapping but I love how it looks.

If you’d like to join in it’s not too late – pop over to Jean’s website and sign up! If you just want to watch then you can see what we are all up to on her Secret Beadalong Facebook page.

Secret Beadalong Day 5

As usual for International Beading Week I’m doing Jean Power’s Secret Beadalong – Day 5 is adding some bicones to one of the rivolis we bezelled in the prep work as we did on Days 2 & 3 with pearls (you can see my prep work and colour choices in my previous post here), but as I said yesterday I’m playing with 4mm fire polished beads instead. The image today looks very like yesterday – the crystals have the same base Royal Red lacquer but yesterday’s one also has the additional DeLite coating, which gives it blue flashes which are only just visible in the photo. In real life it’s a really strong, visible finish though so they look really different.

If you’d like to join in it’s not too late – pop over to Jean’s website and sign up! If you just want to watch then you can see what we are all up to on her Secret Beadalong Facebook page.

Secret Beadalong Day 4

As usual for International Beading Week I’m doing Jean Power’s Secret Beadalong – Day 4 is adding some bicones to one of the rivolis we bezelled in the prep work as we did on Days 2 & 3 with pearls (you can see my prep work and colour choices in my previous post here). I don’t have any bicones which I want to use for this so I’m experimenting with using 4mm Fire Polished in a red lacquer finish and so far so good! They actually sit slightly better than the pearls as they are slightly narrower than they are long rather than being a perfect round.

If you’d like to join in it’s not too late – pop over to Jean’s website and sign up! If you just want to watch then you can see what we are all up to on her Secret Beadalong Facebook page.

Secret Beadalong Day 3

As usual for International Beading Week I’m doing Jean Power’s Secret Beadalong – Day 3 is adding some pearls to one of the rivolis we bezelled in the prep work as we did on Day 2(you can see my prep work and colour choices in my previous post here). It’s going along very nicely as you can see – here it is with my rope from Day 1 (plus some extra work on that on Days 2 & 3).

If you’d like to join in it’s not too late – pop over to Jean’s website and sign up! If you just want to watch then you can see what we are all up to on her Secret Beadalong Facebook page.