A productive few days tidying up unfinished work and trying out ideas.
The bangle is a play on a Cellini spiral using some bigger beads – over 4cm at its’ widest it is good and chunky and fun. It took rather a long time to finish, largely because I kept running out of the larger beads. One important job (as well as photographing it properly and listing for the shop) is going to be to work out how many I actually used to avoid that problem next time. I have a plan for something even bigger in a rainbow of opaques, a bit like the Bright Star. Once the beads are selected the spiral stitch is very repetitive and restful, a nice change from more complex and creative work, so could be a good one for our next holiday.
The earrings are an exaggerated version of a basic brick stitch triangle with fringing – but again they are big and bold, scaled up to 12cm long. This gave me space for lots of different shades and makes me think of a firebird. I’ll try these again as well, like the spiral they are simple enough to be relaxing to make, but unlike it they take hours rather than months to complete. I think a dig around in my crystal stash could give some interesting additions as well. If only I didn’t have a small person who grabs everything he sees (glasses, hair, jewellery), then I could actually wear them……..
And finally I had another go at my ‘Saturday afternoon necklace’. Nearly right this time so I’ll tell you all about that soon. And I finished something else at the weekend but I honestly can’t remember what. I’ll blame the hot weather and the four teeth the baby is cutting for the epic memory failure.
The lovely people at Folksy mailed me today to let me know that they’d featured one of the pieces from my Folksy Shop on their Facebook page, and that it had generated lots of interest. It was the lovely Jean Power designed collar I laboured over for so long last year, and is a very stunning piece and much deserving of all the attention (although the credit really needs to go to Jean for the design). I’ve only sold one piece since I put the shop together 3 years ago, but their single photo post generated over 600 views for the item which needless to say is a very very significant uplift. No buyers, but I’ve never been convinced I want to sell it anyway……….
Even more scarily they have asked me to be a featured shop later next month. This is very exciting, but also pretty terrifying. I’m going to have to knuckle down to get the shop ready to make the most of this opportunity, which means getting as many completed items listed as possible, ordering more packaging, and sorting through all those nearly finished pieces to see what might work. Plus I need to put together stuff for the feature itself, and actually think about why I bead in the first place……scary.
But first I must must get that Stitch N Craft challenge piece finished and post the whole set off as the deadline is starting to loom and having worked so hard I can’t bear to miss out on entering. If number 2 child could finish cutting his third and most painful tooth I would be really grateful.
Last year as part of the Stitch ‘N’ Craft Chatelaine Challenge I made a tape measure cover, and I was so pleased with it that I’ve now written it up as my very first tutorial. My lovely sister Susie has tested it out, and my lovely husband David has helped me to make the file small enough, so it’s now available as an instant download through Etsy. I hope shortly to get some kits listed as well.
Well my quick and easy necklace didn’t turn out to be quite so quick in the end. I pressed out the pleats in the shibori ribbon a bit as planned, but it still didn’t look right just simply knotted and draped. So I decided to add a clasp, which meant end caps as well:
The ring is an adaptation of Sabine Lippert’s Bling Ring, and the end caps and toggle bar I made up myself using embellished RAW. I’ve left one end unfinished for now so that Mummy can choose the final length herself. It’s all packed up in a nice box with the beads I’ll need to complete it plus needle and thread in a little bag, so I can get it finished when she is ready to decide.
She seems to like it, and also enjoyed her traditional annual birthday day out with the family at Kew Gardens, and then tea, cake, and finally fizz chez nous. The new Barefoot Walk at Kew was particularly fun, especially when number one son got stuck in calf deep mud – such a lovely experience that I couldn’t be cross when he then fell over.
As usual I was stuck for a birthday present for my mother, and as usual had left it a bit late (under a week). But then inspiration struck on Tuesday as I remembered that Stitch ‘n’ Craft have started selling lovely Shibori Ribbon. Made by Shibori Girl, I’ve wanted to buy some for a while, but have held back as it’s not cheap. However, I thought a yard of it would make a lovely necklace if I made a big beaded bead to thread on it, and it didn’t seem quite so expensive if it meant I could get a whole necklace from only a few hours work.
The colours that were very obviously Mummy’s thing were sadly out of stock, so I gambled on ‘Fallen Apple’, ordered on Tuesday morning and it was with me by Wednesday lunchtime – and it’s perfect for her. Some scrabbling around in my too large book collection turned up ‘Amphora’ in Marcia DeCoster’s Beaded Opulence, and I got started. I’ve made one before, which you can see below top left (reds and black).
My first attempt this time failed – the tension of the RAW base was much too tight (it seems to need to be very loose for this piece, presumably because of the shape and embellishment), and the colours I had chosen (coppers and lime) were much too brash. You can see that one in the middle below, half done and then hacked about a bit to get at the beads. Fortunately the second attempt (bottom right), using much more subtle beads has turned out perfectly, and was all done in just a few hours. I tweaked the design a bit, substituting copper 3mm pearls and matte copper 3mm fire polished beads for the 3mm bicones (Mummy is not really a crystal person), and using drop beads as the central few embellishments to add texture. I’m very pleased, although the ribbon is looking a little thin, so I will experiment with pressing the pleats a little tonight to widen it out. Hopefully Mummy will like it when we give it to her tomorrow.
The substitutions worked well. However if you want to substitute drops in where I did then you will need to use 11s rather than 15s to surround them (as although the top of the drop is over 3mm, the base is much smaller).
Marcia works with lovely subtle base colours – so it may be best to stick with these if you’re using one of her designs. She then uses several highlight colours in the upper layers, but I also found that using just one worked.
You can’t really see the fire-polished beads from the centre of layer 1 as there are two layers above – so don’t flap too much about having the perfect ones – use some OK ones and save the nicer finishes for something where they will be seen properly. A darker colour than the rest of your base beads actually seems to enhance the design.
Good and quick – I’d say around 2 hours if you’re familiar with the design or an embellised RAW fanatic.
Not the weather (although it does seem to have been and gone already), but the summer element of my Stitch ‘n’ Craft Challenge entry. It’s taken longer than I had hoped, and as has happened with previous elements has rather taken over my beading time, so I am relieved to get it done. I have so many other projects stacked up in my head, and so little time to do them (not helped by the baby coming down with chicken pox). Stitch ‘n’ Craft is my favourite bead shop – great beads, light speed service and lovely people. I first entered the challenge last year, largely to force myself to do some wholly original work, rather than just using other ‘ patterns and ideas, and it gave me a lot of confidence. I’ve even produced one of the elements as a tutorial (hopefully available for sale soon, once dearest husband teaches me how to make the file smaller). New ideas blossom out of the stretching work, but the trouble is there’s no time to work on them. I’ve taken to keeping a notebook (as recommended by all proper beaders), so I hope that I don’t loose those ideas.
This year’s challenge features four pieces, one for each season. Each season has a set palette, and must incorporate elements provided, so is a real push creatively. All of the seasons have included elements I’d never normally choose to work with, and colour palettes that I’m not used to – I think the latter has been the greatest challenge as I’m somewhat of a creature of habit where colour is concerned, but I’ve come to enjoy some of the new palettes, and can’t wait to work some more in the winter scheme in particular which was completely new to me (and caused much bead buying). The pastel shades of summer have been surprisingly uncomfortable as well, and with lots of green in Spring too I’ve been stretched (I love lime green – Miyuki Zest Duracoats are the best beads ever, but I rarely work with other shades).
Anyway, Summer and Winter are complete, Autumn is beaded and just needs making up, and then I must dash through Spring if I’m to finish by the end of July. So I need healthier children soon………
I was trying to be decisive last night, so I sharpened my scissors and snipped all of the nasty thread ends off the pendant I finished a few days ago. Except that I snipped off the start thread without weaving it in, so it could all unravel any second (especially with a three bead start in size 15 delicas). Rude words were uttered.
Even worse, because I only started snipping so I could remove it from my board prior to working on something else, I had put away the thread so had an excuse to procrastinate about sorting out my mistake. So another UFO went back into my workbag. Naughty girl.
I found some wonderfully wierd rondelles in my local bead shop. They’re rondelles, but have a strange matt rubbery coating, rather like ‘soft touch’. The colours are very vivid, and they make a lovely change from conventional crystals. I’m using them for a bangle I’ve made before – Jean Power’s Affinity Bangle, but having made a couple of samples I can’t quite decide which size of seed beads to use. She suggests 11s and 8s, so I started with those in a matte black using the fuschia rondelles. But they seem a bit small, so I’ve also tried 8s and 6s in copper with the lime rondelles. But they seem too big. It could well be that the colours and finishes are affecting the appearance – the matte black beads shrinking away and the coppers shining and seeming larger than life, but the trouble with beading is that it takes so long to complete a piece that you don’t want to spend time until you’re happy. Dearest husband thinks stick with the black, which is good as I have the beads already (always helps), but the 8s and 6s will make a gloriously chunky piece (very Suzanne Golden). Ah well, I need to knuckle down and get on with ‘Spring’ so I shall put them aside for now and get on.
A lovely surprise as I left the house earlier – the postman with Jean Power’s second Geometric Beadwork book. Her’s were the first project tutorials I bought when I started beading, and I’m still using many of them quite a few years later. The new book builds on the first and on those tutorials, but also includes some interesting variations – added fire polished or tilas for example. Even better, those and some others use size 10 rather than 11 delicas, so will be nice and quick to work up. Although I may need to do a little cheeky shopping………
I’m normally quite a together, decisive kind of person, but there is something about beading which makes me dither. Sometimes I spend longer looking through my stash (or thinking about buying yet more beads) than I do on a finished piece, so this blog is an attempt to get over that. I’m going to try to dive into my work, to document my ideas and decisions, and just damm well get on with it.
This will undoubtedly be thwarted pretty much immediately by a number of things. The first – two small boys. One aged 4 years (hereafter known as boy number 1) and one aged 6 months (boy number 2). Boy number 2 is the reason I’m on maternity leave for a while longer, boy number 1 is the reason I won’t get anything done ever again. He currently has chicken pox, which on the positive side has given me the time to get this blog going (as we should actually be abroad on holiday at the moment, not sitting on the sofa trying not to scratch). The second is a fear of waste – I can’t bear to use beads or spend time on something which won’t be perfect. There is always a ‘what if’ – what if I used that colour I don’t have so need to buy so must wait for it to arrive, what if I use an inelegant thread path, what if I can’t repeat things, what if it all unravels and falls apart aargh. So I will have to grit my teeth and get over it. Or maybe just re-organise my stash again, that always makes me feel better.
However, I should admit now that things haven’t started well – it took me a month to choose a blog name. It was only when I realised that I was dithering that inspiration struck and the name was born.