A Handmade Christmas

Handmade items make wonderful presents – beautiful and/or unusual things, often unique.  Most Christmases I have a rush of blood to the head and decide to make presents, and most Christmases I’m still working on Christmas Eve to finish them.  So this year I decided to let other makers do the work for me – partly to support them, and mainly because they were making lush stuff.

So here’s what I bought (stupidly I didn’t take pictures, but in most cases you can follow the links to have a nose):

  • A while back I’d spotted Layla Amber’s lovely shop on Etsy.  She makes gorgeous laser cut wooden jewellery, and as December approached I bought myself a lovely Christmassy  Winter Robin necklace and robin earrings, which I wore lots.
  • They were so nice I bought some more earrings as my office Secret Santa gift, and a Winter Robin Brooch for my Aunt.
  • I’ve also been Folksy stalking Sue Trevor – she makes gorgeous machine embroidered badges, bowls, mirrors, decorations and generally lovely objects.  I used to do some machine embroidery, and would like to come back to it one day (obviously with added beads!), so I’d be watching Sue’s work with interest, and when she listed some lovely decorations I couldn’t resist.  So my sister-in-law has a lovely autumn coloured apple for her Dorset cottage, and my Mummy now has a fabulous bird watching from a small window in Tudor Cottage.  I suspect Mummy will also be inspired by Sue’s work – as a quilter she’s done some similar work in the past, and Sue’s use of hand-dyed and other interesting fabrics is right up Mummy’s street.  Again I got quite carried away, so my mother-in-law has a great badge, and as I bought a couple of ‘spares’ I have both a bigger badge , a pocket mirror and best of all a supercool peas in a pod brooch:


  • Slightly less ‘handmade’ but no less appropriate as presents were some mugs from We Are Paper Plane on Etsy – a fun graphic design team.  It’s the bigger boy’s teacher’s first year teaching so we thought she wouldn’t have too many ‘best teacher’ type presents yet, so she got a named mug.  Daddy is famous for his jokes, and definitely needs some new ones – this should help.  And our wonderful childminder is quite keen on prosecco, so this mug should give her an adequately sized vessel to put it in!
  • And finally for my beady little sister, something for her to handmake – a very un-Christmassy Boneyard Bauble from Spellbound Beads.  Jean Power was making one at bead group a while back, so I grabbed one for Susie at the Big Bead Fair.   The skeleton in particular is brilliant, and picked up a little kit for some tiny spider earrings to make for myself as well, for which they have a free pattern.

And now the really good bit – I suggested to my husband that if he or anyone else is ever stuck for presents, he could just look at what I favourite on Etsy or Folksy and he embraced the idea with gusto!  So I now have a wonderful collection of beautiful items:

  • From Kate Ramsey Felt, a completely wonderful scarf in my colours, along with a cuff and a keyring.  These are just so gorgeous, and as a bonus they smell gorgeous, presumably because of the soaps used in the felting process.  I’ve been watching Kate’s work for many years, having had a dalliance with wet and needle felting a while back (which I now feel the need to revive).
  • From another Kate at Kate’s Little Store a lovely rocket – space is a big favourite in our house and it’s nice for me to be able to join in.



So all in all, a lovely handmade Christmas – everything arrived promptly and beautifully packaged, and was a real pleasure to give or receive.  Thank you to everyone who helped!


Crimson Frog Fish

Having been reminded of her gorgeous work in the recent Stitch and Craft  brochure, I googled Kinga Nichols to see if she offers kits or tutorials for those of us unable to get to classes.  She does, but her Etsy shop is a bit empty as she’s just been away – this is probably just as well given that I have far too many beads already, the pound is low, and postage from the States is horribly expensive.  However, further googling turned up her new video tutorial for Interweave.  I’ve used free video tutorials in the past to help with things like knitting and sewing, but never for beading, and to be honest, never paid for.  But it’s something I’d maybe like to try doing myself one day, and I’d just bought a fantastic eye cabochon from WingSmith and some red bead foundation from Jencel at the Big Bead Show, so it felt like the beady universe was saying ‘go on go on’,  so I splashed out the rather steep $19.99 and had a go.

We made a fish.  She is rather lovely, and ugly at the same time, and I really enjoyed making her.  I have learnt about glues, fabrics etc, drawn and cut out my base (the tutorial claims to be focussed on working with pre-cut foundation, but to be fair other than the fact that we are using one, it’s not about that, it’s really about making a lovely beaded fish).  I’ve at last sorted out my back stitch (which I’d never got to like previously), and I’ve added a bezel to the glued on eye, seeded on some Swarovski lochrosen (glass sequins), drops and best of all added some lentils to cover a huge space in no time at all!

The video is well structured, with good, clear explanations of the key stitches and techniques.  There is possibly a little too much of watching Kinga do back stitch, but one can always fast forward.  It’s certainly possible to watch and bead, and then just pause when you need to catch up, which works well so long as you have a device/PC next to your beading area (in my case this consists of an iPad on the arm of the sofa).  It’s certainly been the best bead embroidery technically that I’ve done, and I think Kinga deserves full credit for that.  The next test will be to see whether I can appy this to some designs of my own.

I enjoyed making the pink and red one so much that I’ve made a second fish in pink, green and purple – this time the correct size (I scaled the first up as the eye I had was huge), and I see more of these plus some other Kinga style bead embroidery in my future…….

Hints & Tips

  • Interweave sell this as either a single video ‘download’ (there is a second project available as well) or as a pair of projects on DVD.  The downloads are $19.99 each (so $39.98 the pair), the DVD pair $34.99.  I don’t know who does their accounting, but that feels like a rip off.  The downloads should cost significantly less to sell, and yet are more because you can’t buy the pair.  With the pound low this works out as at least twice what I would normally pay for a tutorial, and more than the price of a book for a single project.  If you are based in the US and can buy the DVD set then that will be a reasonable deal – otherwise for UK based beaders I’m not sure I can recommend based on price.  As I write it is reduced to $15.99, so if you live somewhere with a favourable dollar exchange rate, it may be worth a buy!
  • If you are using an iPad or iPhone, they are not even downloads – you are effectively buying access to stream the video, not to save it on your device.  Yes, I will when I have time download it onto my PC, but I’ll want to watch it on my iPad or iPhone so will have to get dear husband to transfer it on.  This is governed by the way that Apple run downloads onto iPads and iPhones, and is not something Interweave alone can change, but a more substantial warning before purchase would have been appreciated.
  • There’s a PDF included with a template of the fish to trace, which is great, but no materials list.  You have to work out as you go along what beads you will need, and for me, that was quite annoying – I like to pull together the right beads (or roughly the right beads) before I start, so that I know I can bead all of the way through without having to go hunt out or even buy additional beads.  A written tutorial or magazine project would always contain a list, so why not a digital download.  Even just talking through the materials required at the beginning of the film would have helped………hopefully though my list in the Recipe below will be of some use!
  • Coloured bead foundation is a must here – going back to the lack of materials list you’re going to be pretty disappointed as you can’t start without it.  Coincidentally I’d bought some red and pink Nicole’s Bead Backing from Jencel at the Big Bead Show, so was kitted up ready to go.  It’s the first time I’ve worked with it, rather than using white Lacey’s Stiff Stuff or Beadsmith Bead Backing and it was really, really liberating.  Using a backing that compliments or even contrasts with your beads, which you’re happy to show through makes everything easier, and means you can use larger beads with ease without having to fuss filling in the tiny gaps with seeds, spoiling the effect and multiplying the work! I’ve invested in some more colours now, and I feel that having a good backing colour will make me more confident and bold with my beads.
  • I didn’t really want to make a big, heavy cuff, and didn’t have the right materials to do that anyway – instead I had a look at the other fish pieces Kinga has done and spotted that sometimes she puts a hole in the upper fin and uses that to thread a cord through, making a pendant.  This was relatively easy to do, although I’m slightly worried about the strength of the loop – will it distort in use?  Another time I’m going to cut a piece of plastic (from some washed veg packaging or similar) to sit between the foundation and backing to provide additional strength.  I may even consider doing this for the whole piece as with so many heavy beads on it does feel like it could do with some extra stiffening.
  • I didn’t have the petals Kinga used for the scales – instead I used some lentils I’ve been sitting on for a while, and I think they also work really well.  As they are smaller than the petals I decided not to add seed bead stalks, as the holes are reasonably inconspicuous.  That meant I had to work from the tail inwards to get the layering of the scales right (Kinga is able to work the other way as her petals sit further off the foundation with their beaded stalks, so can be pushed aside).
  • Big eyes are better – the second fish I made has an eye closer to the outline provided (15mm), and I don’t think she is as fun as the first one, which has a much larger eye (25mm) in proportion to the rest of the piece.  If you’re working using the template, I would use a 20mm eye.
  • Dragon eyes (with a vertical slit for a pupil) don’t look as nice as ‘normal’ eyes.  Don’t know why, they just don’t look as friendly.
  • They’re pretty big and daring, even for me to wear.  They may take a turn on the Christmas tree this year………..



Creative Bead Embroidery 1 with Kinga Nichols: Working with Precut Foundations Video Download

Coloured beading foundation to tone with your main colours.  I used Nicole’s Bead Backing in red (red & pink fish) and fuchsia (pink & purple fish).

Backing – tone, contrast, compliment, whatever – I used Ultrasuede in fuchsia as it’s easy to work with and I had some, although Kinga suggests leather instead as it is more durable.

Glass eye cabochon – I used a 25mm from Wingsmith for the red/pink, and a 15mm from Kookeli for the purple/pink.  Next time I’ll use a 20mm (see Hints & Tips).

Seed Beads:
  • Size 11 in at least three colours (an outline colour, a main colour for the backstitched circles and one of the fin stripes, and a third colour to give some contrast round the eyes – you could work with more than two colours in this area).  I used Duracoat Zest 4205 as the outline and Silver Lined Fuchsia 1436 as the main for both, with Silver Lined Vermillion 1010 for the red/pink fish and Silver Lined Purple 1446 for the purple/pink.  All Miyuki of course.
  • Size 15s – just a few to close the eye bezel and for attaching the lochrosen – Duracoat Zest 4205 for both fish.
  • Size 11 delicas in a contrast to form the stripes on the fins.  I used Silver Lined Frosted Orange 682 for the red/pink fish, and Galvanised Dark Magenta 463 for the purple/pink.
Feature Beads:
  • For the belly, Swarovski Lochrosen in 4mm (Fuchsia & Light Siam) for the pink/red fish, and O-beads and Tri-beads in Magic Orchid for the pink/purple.  Kinga uses the Swarovski in two sizes, which would be lovely, but I don’t have them and they seem to be very difficult to get hold of at the moment.  Probably a Strictly Come Dancing induced shortage.  The O and Tri beads worked very well though, and are more economical.  If you’re using a ‘magic’ coating, make sure the coated side sits at the back, so that the transparent side sticks up giving you the sparkle.
  • Next along the belly, some 3.4mm Miyuki drops – ideally transparent, with optional colour lining rather than a frosted or opaque – they’ll look like glossy bubbles.  I used red lined topaz for the pink/red and a pink/green mix for the purple/pink.
  • And finally, some larger, flattish beads for the scales – Kinga uses Petals, but I didn’t have any so I tried Lentils and they worked well – Etched Crystal Full Marea for the red/pink, and Magic Orchid for the purple/pink.  Again make sure you use the beads the right way up to get the best from the coating.

All in all not the best value, but well explained and demonstrated, and a fantastic, enjoyable project which I plan to repeat. A lot.


Space Needle Case Tutorial

So I’ve finally finished a new tutorial.  It’s been a long time in coming – it’s the needle case from the Chatelaine I made for a Stitch n Craft challenge several years ago, and whilst my Baroque Tape Measure Surround has been available for a while now, it’s taken ages to get this one done.  That’s not because it’s tricky, or complicated, more because I’ve not until recently managed a really concentrated period of work to get it done, so I’ve ended up reworking more than I really needed to.  Anyway, I’m really happy that it’s done (and all of that rework has simplified some of the stitch paths and dealt with some tension pitfalls), so here it is:


It uses those standard wooden needle cases you can get for making peyote tubular wraps, but has a twist – it uses RAW to cover the case, so it shows through the finished piece, so must be coloured to match (or contrast), and then the ends and opening are built out to form a very solid surround for a 14mm rivoli.  The finished embellished sections with their pointed rivolis reminded me both of flying saucers, and of the Space Needle in Seattle – hence the name.  As part of my Chatelaine it formed one of the more substantial elements alongside my Baroque Tape Measure.

It’s really an intermediate level piece – there are full instructions for completing every step, including the basic RAW sections, and none are particularly tricky, so in theory a relative beginner could follow it, but I would say that you’d need to be confident of an even, controlled tension, and be able to handle beadwork that is fighting back a bit, so if you’re a beginner maybe work on some more basic RAW projects before you buy this one?  It’s not going anywhere anytime soon……

It’s available for instant download from Etsy (EU buyers note VAT will be added on top of the selling price)  or from Payhip (where I can absorb the VAT in the selling price).  Or if you don’t mind waiting until I’m awake/have a spare moment, then you can purchase through Folksy and I’ll email the PDF to you.

And Ive been super organised, so materials packs containing all of  the beads and crystals you need, plus a pre-coloured needle case are now available for UK buyers from my Etsy and Folksy shops.  You can choose between a long or a short needle case to suit the types of needles you use, and there are four colourways, available in either length.  If you’re not based in the UK, all of the details of the beads used in those colourways are in the tutorials, so you should be able to recreate without too much trouble (and save yourself the exhorbitant international postage from the UK).




Goldhawk Road

I know this blog is supposed to be about beadwork, but at the moment I also have the dressmaking bug.  This year’s Great British Sewing Bee inspired me to lug out the machine for me, rather than curtains, cushions or children’s fancy dress.  I bought a copy of the lovely Japanese book (Yoshiko Tskiori’s Stylish Dress Book) a while back and have made a couple of tunics already, which I’ll tell you about at some point, but I needed some fabric which I can’t source locally, and as I’ve not yet settled into ordering dress fabric online I popped up to Goldhawk Road for the first time ever this week to seek some out.

Despite having been a Dress Fabrics and Haberdashery Department Manager in my early career I’ve never been to Goldhawk Road before – I used to visit Berwick Street regularly to check out the competition, but never ventured to west London.  So I girded my sewist loins and boarded the tube for Shepherd’s Bush, trotted across the green and arrived in a strange fabric shoppers nivarna.  In between the takeaways, Tesco Metros, betting shops and vape shops, for the 200 yards between the corner of Shepherd’s Bush Green and Goldhawk Road tube there are just fabric shops.  That’s it.  Each one different but the same – the same Aladdin’s caves of fabrics, spilling out onto the floor, rolls stacked every which way, but with a huge variety of fabrics in each individual shop.  And no two ranges the same in any two shops – always different colours, textures, prices, qualities.  Mind boggling.

In the end I spent about 2 hours there, going from shop to shop, trying to remember what was where, and work out what I actually wanted to buy.  Going with a plan of some kind would definitely have been a good idea – my vague ‘stuff for a tunic or dress but not summer fabrics’ was helpful, but as you will see from my purchases, hard to stick to – everyone else seemed to have something specific in mind.  I missed out on a couple of fabrics because I clean forgot which shop they were in (I can still visualise the stack of rolls of Liberty cord, but couldn’t find the right shop when I had decided to buy), and found the whole experience slightly overwhelming, with rolls everywhere, patchy pricing meaning you had to actually talk to people (not my favourite thing in shops), and just the sheer variety on offer was extraordinary, and much better than expected.  I loved it, got some fantastic bargains (and some marvellous not so bargains), and will be going back (but not until I’ve made up everything I bought – I do have some self control you know).

Anyway, to give you some idea of the kind of things that are available, here are my somewhat random purchases.  I’d love to tell you which shops they came from, but I really can’t be sure!


Lovely rough woven silk, medium weight.  Not on my list, but it spoke to me while I was buying the muslin, screaming ‘ask him how much I am, I am so lush’.  £12 pm – this was intended for a winter weight tunic dress, but may be too nice (and probably dry clean only, I forgot to check), so may be a collarless coat instead when I get a bit better/more confident.


Suiting weight polyester blend, this one will be a tunic dress for work.  I’m thinking slightly A line (Stylish Dress Book F) but with fancy sleeves (SDB top B but without the wrist elastic so kind of bell shaped). £12 pm.


Muslin in vivid magenta (what else) – very narrow, but only £2 pm so I bought lots!  Tunic shirty thing – SDB G, J or W depending on how clever/stylish I feel.  But not until the spring since this is definitely summer wearing stuff.  Will be quite exciting to make a garment for under £10!


Cheapo giant check gingham.  I’ve wanted some of this for ages, it’s a bit stiff but hopefully will wash to soft.  Probably a simple square tunic (would look nice as a SBD E but I don’t have the courage to try and sort out patterns and pleats with a cheap, probably slightly warped fabric).  £2.50 pm!


Lovely Italian viscose jersey – not the cheapest on offer, but definitely the best quality.  This is going to be a SDB tunic Q, but longer.  It may have to wait until I can get some fusible seam binding though as I am still a bit scared of knits and this will help.  I wouldn’t want any bagging around my bust after all. £12pm.


And then this was the really naughty one.  The one that broke all the rules (price and season).  But I don’t care because it is completely and utterly gorgeous, even the smallest snotty boy is fascinated by it.  It’s a German digitally printed cotton voile (but quite a heavy one, just one step off a lawn really).  It will need lining, and careful thought about use of pattern (the repeat is about a metre), and will be completely outrageous and totally, totally lush.  A very brightly coloured, parrot like, Hiawathaesque delight.   A dress I think, but only once I’m really, really competent!  £20 pm.  Oops.

So there you have it – a fun, overwhelming afternoon adding to my dressmaking stash.  And not a dinosaur costume in sight.





Fantasy Workshop shopping

Last week the Stitch and Craft workshop schedule for next year came out, and it got me really salivating.  Utter lushness, in the lovely Dorset countryside.  Bookings open on Thursday, and some workshops will go incredibly quickly because they are incredible designs from internationally renowned beaders.  Plus they are at the SnC Studio which in itself is a beader’s paradise, and frankly worth coming up with any excuse to visit (including ‘but I really need to learn how to make this so I have to go there’).  I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to any classes, family and work being what they are, but I’ve indulged myself with a little fantasy workshop selecting – perhaps one of you could go instead?

So, first to some of my beady friends, starting with the fabulous Jean Power.  I think I’d go for her ‘Iskra Box’, or possibly the ‘Tetra Star’, as I’ve seen elements of these in development and thought they were amazing.  Jean’s a great teacher, and really fun to bead with – we’d have a ball.

My new beady friend, Shona Bevan is teaching a few pieces – I loved her ‘CRAW Donut’ when I saw her wearing it a couple of months ago – it’s put together with such confidence and elegance, and yet it’s so daringly simple in terms of colour.  Then again, she was wearing one of her ‘Borgia Pendants’ last week and that was completely lovely.  Plus she is a scream in person so again we’d have a fab day.

When I met Sian Nolan for the first time on the Stitch and Craft stand at the Big Bead Show, she was I think wearing her ‘Flowers in the Snow’ – I couldn’t stop staring at it so I’d love to learn how to make one.  The use of I’m guessing lentils round the edges is inspired, and I have just the ones in my stash already…….

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Sabine Lippert – from her I’d go for either ‘Night and Day’ or ‘Charming’.  Laura McCabe is coming over, and although she’s not teaching her more avant garde pieces, I think her ‘Modern Medieval Bracelet’ would give a good insight into some of her techniques.

I’ve made a few of Heather Kingsley Heath’s designs, and really enjoyed them – her ‘Samarkand’ includes fabric which really intrigues me, but then again her ‘Bumble Bee’ is adorable.  And ‘Serpentine’ looks lovely……

I’ve been trying to up skill my bead embroidery lately, and luckily my newest obsession (kicked off by the arrival of this very brochure) is the bead embroidery of Kinga Nichols.  I’ve just splashed out on her Interweave video featuring a fantastic fish (and started beading it), so I wouldn’t pick that class even though it really appeals – instead I think I’d love to learn how she achieves such lovely textures and shapes in her abstract pieces, so would go for the ‘Bees Knees’ pendant – very wearable as well.

Looking at some of the other classes, ‘Nuts & Bolts’ by Heather Collin (taught by Lynn Firth) caught my eye.  It looks like an intriguing construction with an opportunity to play with colour, which is obviously a plus for me, and very wearable.  Then the lovely Lynn is also teaching some of her own pieces as well…….  There’s a bead crochet class with Gillian Lamb which might be a good idea (I really cannot get the hang of it on my own), and then there are classes from the incredibly elegant Maggie Meister, and exploration class using Hubble Stitch with Melanie de Miguel, and oh the list goes on, so it’s just as well I don’t have to choose.  If you can though, do, and you will definitely have a lovely time.


Perl Art

I’ve been playing recently with a new App for iPad called Perl Art. I prefer diagrams to photos in my tutorials, and up until now I’ve been using some free software called Inkscape. It’s a generic vector diagramming program, and although I’ve got the hang of it now, after a bit of reading around I thought it might be worth giving Perl Art a try. I loved the idea of something formulated specifically for beaders, and of working on the iPad so I don’t have to fight for access to our home laptop. Well, after some initial hiccups I’ve been really pleased with it – I would say at the moment it won’t replace Inkscape for me, but I will be using it for simple designs, and enjoying it.

I thought some of you might be interested in how I’ve got on and why I’m saying that I like it, but can’t use it for everything, so I’ve jotted down some pros & cons:


  • Available on the iPad.  I love my iPad a lot.
  • Optimised for touch, and I believe you can use a mouse with an iPad if you find touch tricky.  If I had an iPad Pro with a stylus it would be extra brill, but let’s face it they are horribly expensive.
  • Perl Art is a specialist application just for beaders – nothing else cluttering things up, and a lot less to learn than Inkscape or similar.
  • Nice simple user interface.
  • Key bead types available ready rendered, accurately sized/shaped.  I have to build each bead myself in Inkscape, guessing at the rough size in comparison to other beads, select a rough colour and then add a custom colour gradation to make them look 3D.  This takes a while, and there is no way my Inkscape rivolis, bicones and fire polished beads look like these Perl Art ones:


  • There are a good range of bead sizes and types – add on packs (some free, some pay) available.  More about this in the Cons though.
  • The developers use manufacturer’s colours, sizes and other specifications, so you’re getting an accurate digital rendering of real beads – realistic enough to look good, but not so realistic that they clutter up the diagrams.
  • Lovely responsive development team – always respond to queries and comments quickly and seem very keen to collect and act on feedback.  Lysann Lamontagne, the creator is a beader herself, and her tech team seem very good (Alexandre has been very helpful!).
  • Fantastic grid function – click on a bead and select a couple of settings and Perl Art will draw you a grid of beads in Peyote (1 or 2 drop), RAW, This is really, really useful – one comment would be that they haven’t counted the rows out quite right on Peyote – I would say that a row is one way either right to left or left to right, they say a row is both ways – right to left and then back to right again, so you can effectively only add what I would call 2 rows at a time. But it is super easy to delete the unwanted beads so it’s not really a problem, just slightly confusing initially.   In the example below I was able to very quickly make the peyote sections, and then simply delete the beads either end of the shorter rows to get the required shape.  Much, much quicker than manually creating a grid. So if you’re doing flat peyote or flat RAW pieces this will beat Inkscape hands down, and I’m looking forward to using it for that!



  • Only available on iPad – not iPhone (although this would be fiddly on the small screen), and not as far as I know on other platforms.
  • You can’t build your own beads – so if the bead type you want isn’t on there, or in one of the extension packs, and you can’t use a similar bead type instead, then you are stuck. That said, I’ve asked for 8mm Swarovski chatons via the feedback function and they’ve said they’re all coded up ready now and will be in the next pack, which is super service.
  • I’m still struggling slightly with getting a thread path that I’m happy with – in Inkscape I can adjust quite carefully, so it’s easy to show complex thread paths which go back on themselves, or round and round, and I can also add arrows intermittently along the thread, rather than just at the end.
  • I also can’t quite seem to get the thread to hug the centres of the beads in the way I’d like, but to some extent I think I can live with this if I stick to simple designs.
  • I like to highlight the beads being added in that step – in Inkscape I do this by increasing the width of their outline (see Inkscape example below), and I’ve seen other beaders use coloured outlines. There is no option to do this in Perl Art at the moment (as far as I can see), this would be top of my list for enhancement requests.step12
  • And finally, and my second enhancement request, there is no option to fade out layers of beads – in Inkscape I can use the layers function to make previous layers of beads more transparent so that they fade on the page, and allow the beader to gauge the location of the old layers but focus on the current one (see above). Additionally I can fade individual beads at say the edge of an area to give a 3D impression, although this is less important.  For single or maybe two layered pieces this lack of control won’t be a problem, but for complex multilayered pieces, and anything truly 3D I will need to stick to Inkscape.

In the end I think Perl Art is largely aimed at amateur beaders looking to share their designs, rather than pros, which makes sense in terms of the functionality they’ve included.  I’d obviously be very pleased if they are able to build more functionality in over time, particularly adding the option to highlight beads added in a step, and to fade out previous layers, but even without it for now I still think this is a splendid effort and I would definitely recommend it for simpler designs.   I used it to chart my Hollow Dodecahedron, and it only took a couple of hours – for a first attempt that’s pretty good, and probably much faster than Inkscape.


I bought it using an offer from Beads Direct, making it £17.99, which although it feels expensive for an app compares very well with some of the bead charting software currently available (which is no use to me anyway since I don’t really go for charted work) – I’m not sure if the offer is still on, but just in case the link is here.  When I clicked through the link from the Perl Art website  to the App Store it showed as £17.99 anyway.

So if you fancy having a go at drawing up your designs, or already do and want to try a new way, I’d recommend giving Perl Art a try.


Some more Materials Packs

As well as the new spiky packs I’ve managed to create some new colour-ways for my Baroque Tape Measure, and resurrect some previous ones.

The new ones are:

Medium Vitrail

Medium Vitrail



Ruby & Gold

Ruby & Gold

Caribbean Sunshine

Caribbean Sunshine

And the resurrections are:

Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise

Ruby & Old Gold

Ruby & Old Gold

Scarlet, Silver & Gunmetal

Scarlet, Silver & Gunmetal

As usual they are available in my Folksy shop (click on the pictures) or my Etsy shop (here for the new colours, here for my completely favourite Tequila Sunrise, or here for the Scarlet or Ruby).  And finally, the tutorial itself is available for instant download via Etsy here (VAT will be added if you are in the EU), via PayHip here (no VAT), or if you don’t mind waiting for me to e-mail via Folksy here (no VAT).