And so to Bath for a belated birthday mini break sans enfants. Main reason (other than loveliness of Queensberry Hotel and Bath in general) was of course the Kaffe Fassett exhibition up at the American Museum, and it was as expected completely fab. I particularly loved the use of giant blown up photos of his work on some kind of vinyl as flooring, which coupled with his work and the intense wall colours made it a very immersive experience. It is so difficult to describe his use of colour in particular adequately to those who haven’t seen his work, so here is a link to a video about the exhibition on the American Museum site and some of my snaps instead so you can experience some more chromomania. Apologies for quality of photography, my iPhone seems to find his exuberant use of reds in particularly quite hard work. Wimp.
My quilting mother and I have both loved and been heavily influenced by Kaffe’s work since he came to prominence in my teens, and although beading has largely replaced patchwork, tapestry and knitting for me, I still find him incredibly inspiring. As well as two huge Persian Poppies shawls I knitted at Uni, posters, insane cardis, scarves and hats using his wools for Rowan, and various other pieces designed by him including a divine lobster needlepont, Mum’s vivid patchwork pieces scattered round the house are a daily reminder of his influence on us. So the exhibition has wound me up nicely, and on my return home the colours will be out in force for both textiles and beading …….. I’m wondering if I can do a Jean Power faux cro rope tribute to some of his early knitting designs, and how about something ridiculous with those neon pink spikes that have just arrived?
Whilst in Bath my tolerant husband also allowed me to amble round the Fashion Museum which was as always fascinating, and we had some stunning food – very interesting tasting menu and wines at the Olive Tree (below the hotel), Sushi at our old favourite Yen Sushi (behind the Assembly Rooms) and a wonderful fishy experience at Blunos. Yummy.
Boy 2 and I popped up to Tate Britain yesterday to look at the incredible Late Turner exhibition. The paintings and sketches were as ever extraordinary, and in one room my eye was caught by a description which talked about criticism of Turner’s apparent ‘chromomania’. As I stood surrounded by glorious paintings I almost laughed – what was a narrow minded criticism then seems like a huge compliment now. If you are in London, go see, and rejoice in the exquisite use of colour. And if you do go, pop along to see the earlier Turners and enjoy Olafur Eliasson’s fascinating colour studies – very interesting. I will of course be using ‘chromomania’ as my new beading watchword………
Since I had the pliers out yesterday I finally got round to adding a clasp to a Sabine Lippert piece I finished beading a while back. It’s a Baroque Dimensional Bracelet and instructions are available for download from her website, and the simplicity and repetition made it a really lovely piece to make – but of course as with all Sabine’s pieces it looks absolutely amazing. It curves beautifully – both around the wrist and across the width of the piece, making it seem lovely and fat and chunky. Very pleased with this one.
Fire polished beads 4mm Matte purple iris (from Etsy More Beads4U)
Fire polished beads 3mm Purple iris (from Robins Beads)
3.4mm drop beads Miyuki 401FR Black Matte AB (from Stitch N Craft)
Size 11 & Size 15 seed beads Miyuki 401FR Black Matte AB (from Stitch N Craft)
Silver magnetic clasp, jump rings.
The Miyuki Black Matte AB are a current favourite as they are a kind of navy blue base, and I’ve not been able to find another good match for navy. For some reason I am wearing a lot of navy at the moment and it is certainly easier to work with than straight black.
- I did 30 repeats as per the instructions, and it fits very nicely. The finished beadwork measures 20cm (without the clasps) although do bear in mind I am quite a tense beader.
- On that note, relax, relax, relax your tension, particularly for the base layer. For me that means beading in a way which felt baggy, floppy and downright messy, but you need plenty of give in order to add the embellishing layers. This is common with embellished RAW pieces.
- Otherwise as usual Sabine tells you everything you need to know……..
Another good relaxing project, like the Faux Cro, I’m definitely going to make another one of these when I have assembled enough Fire Polished beads (it does use quite a lot). Perhaps this time I’ll go a bit wilder with the colours (I’m thinking some sort of outrageous red, pink and orange with lime highlights again). Or perhaps something bright but wearable instead.
And I’ve got the pattern for Sabine’s Tweed bracelet to do as well yummy yummy. Sabine has also put together some beautiful kits, and one day I will definitely treat myself……..
A quick comment about ordering from abroad before I get told off for listing MoreBeads4U: I usually try to stick with local suppliers – although sadly I don’t have any ‘normal’ bead shops selling teeny beads locally, I use UK mail order shops where possible (mainly Stitch N Craft and Robins Beads). However wonderful they are though, it isn’t possible for them to stock absolutely everything I need, and I have now found (through Etsy) a super supplier in Latvia for Czech beads (links above) – reasonable and prompt postage, and pretty much every colour and size of fire-polished beads I could want, competitively priced. So while I continue to use and support my lovely UK suppliers when they sell the colours and shapes I need, and will always look here first, I do sometimes have to go elsewhere. I don’t take this lightly, as shops like Stitch N Craft are so wonderful for the beading community – their class programme is probably the best in the world, they are very supportive of the Beadworkers Guild and bead groups and their range is absolutely wonderful. So their website will always be the first one I go to so that I can support them in return.
Of course one day I will open my own bead shop, sell everything I want and consequently go bankrupt in a year. But it will be fun.
For several years I have been eying up the photos on Jean Power’s website of her ‘faux bead crochet’ bangles. Now I love the appearance of bead crochet, but I’ve had several goes at doing it which have always ended in tangles, uneven work and tears. I’m sure it’s lovely and quick once you are expert, but for me it is incredibly slow, and combined with the absolute tedium of threading all the beads on before you even start I feel it’s not for me. However it does make the most beautiful beaded ropes, so a fake version using beadweaving techniques I’m familiar with seemed worth a try. Staring at Jean’s photos repeatedly over many years sadly did not reveal her secret, and though Jean has been teaching it as a workshop I’ve never been able to go. So when her recent newsletter announced she’d released a tutorial I grabbed one straight away (the joys of instant downloads). Reading through revealed I had been a numpty, as her solution is elegantly simple, but there is much in the tutorial that I would never have worked out even after years of playing, particularly the joins, so it was well worth the money to skip the experimentation and go straight to a very refined solution. All I need now Jean is to work out how to split the rope into two or three so I can do branches please?
Anyway I’ve made so many bangles lately that I thought I would instead make something more like a lariat, but I ran out of beads (poor planning) so I’ve made a short rope with increases at either end to form frilly cones (a la CGB 1 although using Jean’s stitch with increases, not their technique as it didn’t really work for me). I then threaded a wire through the middle so the piece can be sculpted into a choker, bracelet, whatever. The simplicity of the design and technique made it a very relaxing, stress busting kind of piece to make, so I think I will be using this technique again soon.
- 20g of red striped frosted crystal size 8 seed beads – mine were from Beadworks
- 1g of opaque scarlet miyuki size 8 seed beads – 407 from the Bead Merchant
- Red miyuki KO thread
- 65cm 1mm silver plated wire
- Read the instructions all the way through. Jean explains the theory as well as giving step by step instructions so you will be better equipped to improvise and add your own touches, as well as to complete the projects she details.
- If you are not used to the basic stitch Jean uses, do a flat square sample first so you can get your technique (particularly tension) sorted.
- Use big beads. There are some extremely beautiful bead crochet works out there using teeny weeny beads, and this technique will undoubtedly work extremely well for those, but you need to practise first. I would definitely heed Jean’s advice and start with 8s.
- Make sure you have enough beads as this lovely speedy technique will munch them up quite quickly – 20g made a 5 around rope (probably the thinnest you can do with size 8s) 70com long. So I’d reckon at just under 30g for a 1m rope which would make a versatile long necklace or lariat, and you should get a bangle out of the standard 6g tube of 8s. You can always do a sample of say 10cm and then weigh it to estimate.
- The slightly more organic appearance of crochet or faux crochet with 8s means this is a really good way to use up those beautiful but sadly wonky and uneven seed beads you bought all those years ago before you discovered the easy uniformity of Japanese beads. And you can also use the beads you bought for kumihimo but couldn’t use because the holes were too small for the bigger working thread (although you can use thicker threads for this technique and make a feature of them if you want, just like bead crochet).
- Wiring the piece allows me to sculpt it each time I wear it – it would look very nice with the wire poking out and drops or rizos dangling from jump rings attached to a loop at the end
In theory you can use this technique for any bead crochet type piece – there are some amazing patterned ropes out there and I can’t wait to try. Have a look at my Faux Cro Pinterest board for some ideas if you’re interested.
I’d also like to try working round a core of cord or tubing so that I can tie on and bead over some feature beads, and I will have to find some quiet time and work out how to split the rope so I can do branching designs.
I’ve had my electronic copy of Contemporary Geometric Beadwork 2 for a few weeks now, and with the bigger boy at school at last I felt I had the time and energy to have a go at another piece. One of the loveliest pieces in book 1 was the Fortuneteller, and with lots of lovely examples in book 2 I felt inspired. It’s gone together very nicely (they really are deceptively simple designs in the end) and I’m really rather pleased with it.
I used a variety of shades of red, orange, salmon and peach delicas, including two of the newish luminous colours. In natural light the finished piece is very bright, but the yellow tones of artificial light do quieten it a bit. Apologies for the failure to take photos in progress, but I don’t get much chance to get at my beads in daylight……
29g of delicas in around 15 different shades of salmon, red, orange, peach, yellow and pink, including luminous, mattes, metallics and transparents. 24 Miyuki drops (various colours, taken from a mix).
Tips & variations
I made their ‘small’ which is only just large enough. However I do expect it to stretch a bit in wear so I’d say this should be perfect. Their small is six repeats of the zigged band with 10 units on each side of the zig. My knuckles measure 21cm round.
I had a little trouble following the instructions towards the end so I ended up simply adding a drop to what I felt was roughly the right place, and zipping 3 beads only Jean Power style, which gave about the same look, avoided making it any smaller and seems fine to me.
Next time I will vary slightly and add drops to the modified raw band (at the decreases) to match the other points.
I didn’t add drops in the final round (after zipping) as I felt the three already there were sufficient.
I used some transparent frosted lime beads for the raw band and edges. If I was making again I think an opaque bead would work better here (although I would still use transparent beads for some rows in the main fabric), or even a metallic. Alternatively I might use two colours in the RAW – one for the horizontal, one for the vertical beads, as that would more closely mirror my colour use in the rest of the piece and allow the band to blend more.
Another one I think, in more subtle colours (probably soft grey metallics and blues). I am also wondering what this would look like in seed beads?
This is so very helpful – if we all did this Pinterest would be an even more useful place! Thank you Westcott jewellery.
Despite the fantasy novel title, this post is about something pragmatic and useful – finding and crediting original designers of jewelry on the internet!
We’ve all experienced the annoyance of finding a picture of a beautiful piece of jewelry and having no idea where it comes from. This is frustrating both for the beader looking to buy a pattern and for the designer whose work is floating around the internet without credit. Luckily, there is an easy way to solve this!
I have noticed that Pinterest in particular tends to have a lot of dead pins (pictures without sources or designer credit), so I’m going to use Pinterest in my example. This method will work just as well for any situation where you need to find the original source of a photo, though.
So, let’s say you are scrolling around Pinterest and you see a bracelet that you just love.
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I was scratching my head as to what to make to wear to a big wedding recently, and having dug around found some crystals in the right colours to bezel. And I bezelled away night after night until I had a lovely collection, but the day before the wedding bought a different dress, so I am left with fifty odd marea, crystal, sunflower and sapphire stones with gold bezels.
So, what shall I do with them dear readers?
I love Sabine Lippert‘s work – the techniques she uses are incredibly clever but often simple to bead, and the results are wonderfully exuberant, beadtastic pieces. When she created her Rizo beads a while back I bought a copy of her Curizo design so that I could use them in the way she’d intended, and I fell in love with it. So much that I made another, and then when I needed to put something together in a hurry for a wedding this weekend, another. They’re quick to bead – 3-4 hours for me, and use my current bead binge favourite chatons. And I love them, and other people love them (although the smallest boy sadly loves them so much that he bust the chain on the white one last week).
Turquoise – Opaque turquoise rizos, opaque olive 3mm fire polished, crystal AB Swarovski chatons and 3mm bicones, silver duracoat miyuki seeds.
White – Opaque matte white rizos, opaque lime 3mm fire polished, sunflower Swarovski chatons and 3mm bicones, silver duracoat miyuki seeds.
Grey and Opal – Brown Iris Matte rizos, silver 3mm fire polished, white opal Swarovski chatons, white opal czech small teardrop beads.
I don’t have many tips for this one, it’s really very lovely to bead and works perfectly. I quite like to thread the chain or cord through the whole finished piece (as I did with the white and lime version), although that then leaves you with quite a short piece. For the grey and opal version and the original turquoise I’ve added a loop – the former needs to go with a specific dress with quite a low neckline, so long was the only option.
If you’d like some matching earrings like my turquoise ones, simply complete the flower shape and capture the chaton, then add a loop to hang.
For the final version, in the step where you would add fire polished beads and crystals I simply used fire polished, and then in the final joins I put Czech drops where the fire polished would have been. I did this because I didn’t have any 3mm bicones in the right colour (and have bought far too many beads lately so didn’t want to buy any more). On reflection the drops don’t really go with the rizos I used, and the cube shape is more visible (the others look more like a ball which is easier to wear), so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this variation.
Some lovely Heliotrope chatons have just arrived from the States, and I’ve got some fab neon Rizos (Robin’s Beads), and neon fire polished beads (More Beads 4 U – Etsy) – quite a flambouyant Curizo this time.
The nice people at Folksy have made me their featured shop this week. This means items on their front page (scattered about at the top, and then lots at the bottom), Facebook mentions and articles in the Folksy Blog. All rather lovely. Plus the Facebook mentions have stirred the interest of other beaders including my idol Jean Power, so I’ve even sold some tutorials. More lovely people – thank you all.