Selling on Folksy

Did you know that I actually sell some of my finished beadwork and embroideries?

I have a little shop on the UK site Folksy with earrings, a couple of necklaces and some of my embroidered mini hoops – you can view it here. The range is deliberately small to keep it fresh and current, but I also run commissioned work through Folksy, so if you see something you like there or on my social media do feel free to contact me and request custom colours etc.

Folksy is a bit like Etsy but much smaller. They’re deliberately fussier about handmade only and it’s a sensible, easy to browse size as it is just for UK makers (although I can of course still ship worldwide from there). Best of all it has a small, caring, supportive and innovative management team and has a wonderful community of friendly makers which I love. That community take an active interest in promoting the site, spotting non-handmade shops and supporting other sellers with advice and help through the forums and Facebook group. The management team support makers with advice and help, and consult about improvements – Doug the IT guy is legend, and Camilla and her colleagues are experienced makers themselves who constantly feed us useful advice about selling and running our handmade businesses. They actively curate really lovely gift guides, themes of the day and highlight interesting pieces, and run a fascinating blog with ‘makers of the week’ (I was one back in 2014 – read the posts here – very out of date but fun to look back at where I came from).

I’ve been selling there for more years than I care to mention and it’s a lovely place to sell and shop for beautiful handmade items. I’ll probably always have my Etsy shop for supplies and tutorials but it’s very hard to be seen as a maker rather than a supplier there as it’s simply so huge and geographically diverse, so I find Folksy suits me really well for finished items.

Pop over and have a look at my works there using the link below, and do take time to browse some of the other lovely shops too. I’ve listed a few of my favourites below:

https://folksy.com/shops/somanybeads

Susie West – stunning ‘travel posters’ – we have three of these already and are trying to collect one for everywhere we have lived (we have a little way to go!).

Claire Gent – amazing aluminium and silver jewellery. I’ve lusted after Claire’s work for years!

Holme & Moss – I’ve got one of their classic hairbands in my basket at the moment.

Eynonymous – I have a beautiful yellow silk hairband from Eddie which I wear a lot – she designs and prints beautiful textiles.

Clare Lloyd – modern polymer clay and silver jewellery.

Tanith Rouse – eye-catching contemporary coloured aluminium jewellery.

Jenny Newall – gorgeous stained glass birds and super cute egg earrings.

Sue Trevor – contemporary machine embroidery and fabric sculptures – I’ve bought lots of Sue’s work as gifts for the textile lovers in my family.

The Whimsical Marbler – lovely marbled papers, some in great bright colours for a more modern take.

Clare Buchanan – really eye-catching bright wovens.

Working with Colour

I’m often told ‘your colours are marvellous’ or words to that effect, and that’s lovely to hear as colour is incredibly important to me and I do work hard at it! I do have some specific methods I use to really get my colours to work whilst focussing on my designs, and I thought you’d like to hear a bit about my main one.

I’m sure many of you will have noticed that over the last few years you’ll see a run of pieces working through a similar colour theme being posted in sequence and may have wondered what I’m up to. This is a deliberate working method for me now – I focus on a set of colours for several months at a time, work them out, play with different combinations of finish, different juxtapositions, and get really comfortable with them. This saves time pulling and tidying beads, and allows me to focus on new designs without the endless distraction of playing with new colours and rooting around in drawers and drawers of beads.

This has become a standard working method for me of late and it started a while back when I used to pull sets of beads to take on holiday or for a large creative project. I pull a range of beads, threads, sequins, crystals, focals and basic supplies such as threads, findings and backing/foundation in a new set of colours. So for the seed beads that means a set of anything from three to many more colours in as many sizes as I have, plus corresponding delicas, then as standard I usually dig out whatever I have in 3mm and 4mm rounds, fire polisheds and bicones which gives me a really versatile working base. I’ll always add a complimentary metallic colour with matching findings, and then it’s time to rifle through my crystals, feature beads and growing collection of sequins. I’ll add drops (very useful) and then chuck in whatever I have in the right colours in shaped beads. If I have shrinkets or cabochons already made I’ll pull those out too or I’ll make more as I need them.

I’ll usually do some bead embroidery in one of these runs, but will grab foundation and backing as I need it, but I’ll get out the right shades of beading thread so I’m never tempted to use something less than ideal. These days I usually work with purls as well, so I’ll add smooth, pearl and textured purls, and if I’m also thinking of a hand embroidered piece, some linen, silk, tulle or organza and of course, stranded cottons, perles and treasured texture packs and hand dyed threads.

I can end up with anything from a small A5 box or bag to a big stack of A4 boxes, depending on how deep I want to go and how indecisive I’m feeling. So right now, I’ve deliberately picked a smaller set to work with, just beads, purls to complement a set of rainbow coated steel findings I want to work with. So far that’s just turned up one piece using a cab and set of shrink pieces I forgot I had made, but I’ve only been at it for a week. I’m already slightly off track as I didn’t use the rainbow findings yet but I’m quite happy nonetheless as can amble along trying out some ideas I have floating around without needing to root around for beads constantly. And when this is worked through, I’ll tidy them away and pull a new set.

My previous set was a box of beads the same size (A5) plus a similar size box of purls, findings and sequins and a bag of threads and fabrics – that lasted several months and resulted in these beaded pieces:

That set was inspired by a lovely yarn pack from Wild Floss Embroidery – ‘Sherbert Pastel’ colours on a dark teal base. I did an embroidered piece first, adding hand dyed threads from Hope Jacare and beads in similar colours, so once I’d completed the embroidery hoop I had a set of beads ready to go and had got the hang of how to use these colours – which aren’t my usual combo at all. As well as some pieces for myself (including the big embroidery hoop) some of the earrings are now available for sale in my Folksy Shop.

Looking back you’ll be able to see some other series of works which came about in a similar way – first some works which started with my big Egyptian piece for a Beadworker’s Guild Challenge a few years back and spawned several pieces:

And then my very long (over 6 month) pastel based marine inspired pieces – again coming from a winning Beadworker’s Guild Challenge piece ‘Where Corals Lie’.

Back to Nature

I’m please to be able to introduce ‘Back to Nature’, my entry in the ‘Previous Winner’s class of the Beadworkers Guild Annual Challenge 2020/21, and very happy to say that once again, I won.

The theme this year was ‘Save the Planet – Bead it Don’t Bin It’ and this was my Artist’s statement (which we send with our entries and is the only context we can supply to the judges):

‘Inspired by the layers and structure of soil profiles, this box explores the idea of nature taking over again, burying mankind’s waste and rubbish under layers of soil, moss and lichens.  Salvaged circuit boards surrounded by the digital bytes of beadwoven delicas, are slowly being covered by layers of soil –  beads, threads, pearls, reclaimed watch parts and recycled sequins. On the surface, embroidered and beaded mosses are cut through by Kintsugi repairs of bent and damaged scraps of leftover goldwork wires.  Bursting down into the soil below,  the gold brings new life and destroys what we’ve left behind. ‘ 

That’s the ‘public’ face of the piece, in reality it’s simply a really lovely embroidered fully hand made box, made by me over several months using only items from my stash, waste from my shop and household computer and packaging waste, and just about every technique I knew, could learn or could make up. I’ll try and get a blog post together in the next couple of days to tell you a little more here about how it came about.

Sunstar – Liberty Print

I was checking through my materials pack stock the other day and I remembered I had a spare Sunstar in yellow put aside for myself. The grey weather made me yearn for something cheerful and as it’s a lovely evening’s worth of beading (OK I do bead quite quickly and I’ve made a lot of these previously), I thought I’d curl up and make it.

Here it is – definitely cheerful!

Sunstar in Yellow Liberty Print

I still have some of these packs left, and some in different Liberty Print colourways in my Etsy Shop, and if you’d like to make your own with or without a pack the tutorial is here. If you’re not ready for florals yet this year, then I also have versions using my own hand painted cabochons and etched daggers here.

As with my packs I’ve used a combined brooch and pendant bail so I’ll be able to wear this as a brooch on more structured garments, or add a silk string to wear as a pendant and take my own bit of sunshine along with me. The bails are from the lovely Stitch N Craft beads – they’re included in my packs or you can of course buy direct from them. I use them on most big or heavy pendant pieces now as they actually give the firmest mount for a bail as well as the versatility of the brooch option.

I enjoyed making this so much I might steal another pack – I try to do as many colourways as I can mainly because I love putting the combinations together, but that does mean I’ve not always actually beaded every colourway (just spent ages trying different combinations of beads, backings and cabs). Which shall I pick…..?

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.

Jelly

Last summer I made a series of sea creatures – beginning with a bead embroidered pink and yellow jellyfish done as a stitch and material sampler. She was a bit big and slightly clumsy, so she was called Big Jelly.

The next piece was Squidy, who mixes bead embroidery, bead weaving and goldwork embroidery techniques. I published Squidy as a tutorial last year, and also sell component packs for him (which include Hope Jacare‘s lovely ribbons and the other non-beady elements). You can read about him here.

Finally I made Jelly, a simplified piece using just one goldwork and a few bead embroidery stitches – simplified because I knew she was going to go off to the Beadworkers Guild as a journal tutorial. So that meant I had to keep her under wraps for quite a long time!

Last week the Journal was published and here she is. She looks lovely on the cover, particularly in her second colourway of blues and fuchsia, and it’s great to make a contribution to the Guild and to one of the most popular beadworking publications.

If you’re interested in the Journal it forms part of the membership benefits of joining the Guild, and is available internationally.

If you’re already a member and wanting to try making Jelly, then I have the Pearl Purl available in my Etsy shop, and Clare at Hope Jacare has just listed yet more beautiful ribbons, net tape and other hand dyed loveliness. Have fun!

Squidy

Squidy is my younger son’s favourite cuddly toy – the one he needs at night and takes with him on long car journeys, so when an oval cabochon and some rumpled hand dyed silk ribbons came together to make a squid pendant, what on earth else could I possibly call it?

Squidy uses a variety of bead embroidery, beadweaving and goldwork embroidery techniques, including back stitch, bezelling using circular peyote, seeding, right angle weave bezelling, goldwork and beaded edging to make a statement pendant, brooch or even a beautiful ornament. I’ve written him up as a detailed tutorial because frankly he seemed too much fun not to share, and it’s now available in my Etsy shop.

He’s not horrifically tricky if you’re patient, he’d suit intermediate bead weavers or bead embroiderers, or experienced embroiderers looking to learn some beadweaving techniques. Everything is stepped out in the tutorial, and there is a full techniques section with hints and tips which should set you up well to try out some of these techniques on your own designs.

The materials are probably slightly tricky to get hold of, so I’ve put together some component packs – you can select your own individual cabochon, and the packs also include the goldwork wires, hand dyed ribbons (from HopeJacre designs), Swarovski chatons, beading foundation (Nicole’s Bead Backing), and Ultrasuede. These packs don’t include beads as you need such tiny quantities it’s not worth me weighing them and packing them up – you can just add them in from your own stash and make a unique piece. They’re available in my Etsy shop (which has 10% off until the end of December 2019).

I really enjoyed making Squidy, and he now also has some other sea creature friends which I can’t tell you about just yet – I’m working my way through lots of lovely ribbons to make as many tentacled creatures as I can and it’s really, really fun!

Ra, Roth & Khepri

I’m somewhat ashamed to see how little I’ve posted over the last year or so, and I’m determined to change that, so be prepared for a flurry of posts as I catch up and tell you about what I’ve been up to.

First I need to tell you about my entry for this year’s Beadworker’s Guild Annual Challenge.  The theme was ‘Jewels of the Nile’ – we were lucky enough to visit Egypt some years back, and Dr Indecisive Beader and I have always both been fascinated by all things Egyptological.   I think my addiction stemmed initially from a desire to be Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s ‘Death on the Nile’ (one of my favourite authors), and my more recent discovery of Elizabeth Peter’s ‘Amelia Peabody’ series has maintained my fascination long after the trip, so having said I’d have a year off after my win last year with Great Dixter, I immediately changed my mind as that theme was too ‘me’ to resist.

As usual this piece went through many aborted starts, abandoned designs and lots of iterations, many of which will reappear as new pieces over the next few months.   In the end I focused on using my own cabs (poured specifically for this piece), lots of different bead embroidery and beadweaving techniques (including goldwork and three different beaded ropes) and a very wide assortment of new and vintage beads to make a classic, component based collar.  I was really happy with the finished result – it’s quite eyecatching!

So here it is – Ra, Roth and Khepri (Sun, Moon & Scarab)

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The wide collar section shows the day – Ra as the hot noon sun, with Khepri the scarab pushing the warm, coral setting sun and the cool, jade rising sun, connected by blue sky.

The strung blue sky continues into the counterweighting night section, with added ropes of golden stars supporting a deep hung pendant, showing the full and crescent moons of Roth on a goldwork barque.  

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Either Ra or Roth can be worn at the front, to suit your outfit (Roth looks amazing hanging above a backless dress).

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Materials – custom handpainted cabochons (by me); Swarovski, Preciosa & vintage crystals; vintage cup chain; Miyuki beads; Czech shaped beads; felt, ultrasuede; goldwork purls, leather, handmade gold hook clasps.

Techniques – bead embroidery, goldwork embroidery, peyote, netting, stringing, CRAW, DCRAW, DRAW.

Sadly no prize for me this year (but I’ve brought home a prize for the last two years, and hadn’t even entered prior to that so I really can’t complain) – you can see all of the amazing entries on the guild site here if you’re interested.  But I have a lovely piece, have worked out how to include goldwork techniques in bead embroidery, and have lots and lots of leftover components to make even more loveliness, including this necklace which is nearly done, so I’m going to count it as a personal win at least!

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