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Beadworker’s Guild Challenge 2018 – Indian Summer

Last year I finally managed to enter a Beadworker’s Guild Annual Challenge, and was lucky enough to win in my category of ‘professional’ with my Pineapple Rick Rack Fascinator ‘ Fascinating Carmen’. As soon as I heard the topic for this year was to be ‘Indian Summer’ I knew I needed to enter again – although now I have to be in the ‘Previous Winners’ category so that was even more daunting than being with the Pros.

I started work in late autumn last year, and knowing that I wanted to make something inspired by a late summer English ‘hot border’, pulled beads in Fuchsia, Orange, Purple and Bronze.

 

And boy do I have a lot of beads in that set – it felt like I’d been collecting treasures for years with this challenge in mind. I then started to bead, beginning with my favourite etched sliperit Czech beads, working through an idea for beading concentric circles to form a dahlia, working towards a huge set of flowers, and also working on some large beaded beads.

But then I discovered the wonderful work of Anna Bronze, a Russian artist working with lost wax castings to form beautiful natural forms. She had a beautiful range of seed pods and spices which played perfectly to the late summer theme, so I took a deep breath and ordered some (hand made work of this quality understandably does not come cheap). And when they arrived that of course threw the whole plan up in the air. The dark bronze was very striking, but didn’t work at all with the etched beads. It needed something deeper and richer, and I needed to get some crystals into play. And then I thought of the ‘Diva’ necklace I’d loved making earlier in the year, and started playing with putting together a collection of bezelled cabochons with the castings in a similar way.

On the huge tray of pulled beads I had some amazing ‘Crystal Astral Pink’ Swarovski stones which I’ve been hoarding forever, and looked amazing against the bronze. They also looked great with some lunasoft fuchsia cabochons, but that gave me a little too much pink, so I knocked up some cabochons of my own using orange Pebeo Prisme to balance them out. With the largest Astral Pink stone in the centre I was starting to get a bunch of stones that worked, but for a necklace I like to reflect the shape of the ‘decolletage’, so I needed something to basically point downwards into the chest! After a couple of failed attempts to make a marquise shaped cab myself I turned to Designer Cabochons and found a lovely dark marmalade agate drusy cab, and I had my set.

So I bezelled away, using bead embroidery for the pieces which would sit flat against the backing, with a backstich starter continuing into a peyote bezel, some with some picot or similar embellishments. For the large Swarovski stone which would sit in the centre I wanted a beadwoven bezel so that it could sit up above everything else, giving dimensional interest, so I used netting, and featured some lovely dyed agate faceted beads I’ve been hoarding forever, along with sparkly crystals.  And I also beaded some similar bezels around some rivolis to form more ‘flowers’, and a different variant for some chatons – again these would add height, textural interest and of course sparkle.

As I beaded I checked the layout continually, taking pictures as I worked so I could assess (and remind myself of my plan later!).

Once I’d finished all the bezelling and finalised the layout I glued the flat backed bezels onto another piece of bead backing, and where needed, added more rows of bead embroidery. I added the bronze pieces, and then before adding the final bezelled rivolis and crystals, filled in all of the visible backing with seed beads, crystals and groups of fuchsia agate berries.

And then I beaded a simple spiral rope which was attached through the largest bronze piece on one side, and behind a rivoli on the other, and added a lovely Anna Bronze seed pod toggle clasp.

By the time I’d done all that the main piece was getting a little floppy – both from the weight of the pieces, and from the amount of stitching (as this will inevitably make the backing less rigid), so I added another slightly smaller layer of Nicole’s Bead backing before adding a fuchsia Ultrasuede backing fabric and beading round a simple ‘sunshine’ edge. I had planned to do a fancier edging but at this point I realised that I needed to stop and not overdo things!

So, the finished piece was ready, and I posted it off to the lovely Denise at the Guild, who runs the challenges. And this was my description ‘Inspired by the work of the late Christopher Lloyd I planted a ‘hot’ bed. Filled with dahlias, cannas, bananas and tropical beauties in hot and rich shades, and with bronzed foliage and interesting seed heads, it would look its very best in the balmy ‘Indian Summer’ of early autumn. Unfortunately the English weather combined with an appalling number of snails means the crucial dahlias keep drying out or getting eaten, so this piece represents how it looks in my imagination rather than in reality. It includes my own hand painted cabochons, wonderful Anna Bronze findings, Swarovski crystals and much more.’

That was several months ago, and although I knew the judging was last weekend, it was a lovely suprise to get a phone call from Denise on Sunday morning to say that I’d won their ‘Founder’s Award’ – which as well as £100 and a trophy conveys the honour of making the piece ‘which the Judges select for the quality and imaginative use of beading stitches to enhance the design of the piece’.  As per last year the necklace will now embark on a tour with the Guild, visiting shows around the country on the Guild’s stand, and hopefully generating some interest and new beaders.  Again as per last year I didn’t take any particularly good pictures before I posted the piece off as I thought it would be back soon, so until we see some professional images in the next Beadworker’s Guild Journal these are all I can share!  If you fancy a look at the other entries, they are available in here on the Guild site.

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Secret Beadalong – Days 4 & 5

So day 4 was not such a good day for me. I lost my nerve as regards my colour scheme, and switched in my etched rainbow coppers in place of my matte dark metal. Because they are etched they are a bit smaller, so the netting surrounding the superduos was a bit thready.

So I unpicked that and tried again with my antique copper highlight beads.

They looked much better, but when I got to the rope on day 5 I realised that gave me way too much copper in comparison with the other beaded beads.

So I ripped out the central section (just a few steps worth) and switched in the correct dark grey beads, which has toned it down nicely. Without some copper I think this bead would have been too different from the rope to wear alone, whereas now it has a connection.

So onto the rope, which should take up days 5-7 (although I've only spent one evening in it thanks to all the indecisiveness around day 4). It's lovely. Pay attention to the instructions, they are very clear so I have no excuse, but I messed up the first couple of inches by getting the 8s to sit vertically rather than horizontally. Not only is this very fiddly to do, and much slower, it gives you a very inflexible rope with far too much thread showing. Once I twigged I was able to switch to the correct orientation and now it's beading up more easily, and has a nice curve. I'm definitely thinking of making some bangles using this rope – the maximum curvature feels like it would be spot on for a rigid bangle, it's easy and relaxing to bead a whole armful, and it looks great.

So I have a few more hours ahead of beading the rope, and need to dig out a clasp. I had been planning to use one of the Anna Bronze clasps I've just bought, but I can see now that the finished piece will work well with one, two, three or even none of the beaded beads, so I need to ensure that the clasp doesn't stop me sliding them on and off, so may simply have to obey Jean and get a S clasp.

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Un-Started Objects

Early last year I wrote a post about my beady UFOs. None of the pieces in that post have really progressed (I have put a couple more humps on the Ootheca cuff, but that’s it).  Then I wrote a piece about the tutorials I was planning to publish – one (my Space Needle Case) is now out in the world, but the others haven’t really moved.  I’ve managed to recreate the CRAW ring, but I’m still not quite happy with how to write up the corner joins….  All in all my beady planning is looking like the opposite of Mastermind – no ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’ here.  On the other hand, I did get some work finished last year, published a new tutorial, and won a competition, so I won’t berate myself too much.

This year, rather than a series of pictures of lonely, unloved UFOs, a glance through my PDFs on my iPad has prompted a different kind of list – rather than UFOs I thought I’d share some USOs (Un-started objects).  As well as a huge stash of beads I’m afraid I have a large collection of tutorials lurking – I buy them because there is a discount offer, because I simply cannot fathom how something’s been done and I need to know now, because I want to support the artist, or just because I really want to make them.  Because I’m trying hard to focus on original work at the moment the unused ones are starting to accumulate, so I thought it might be interesting to give you a flavour of what has caught my eye (since it may be a while before they appear here as finished or even started beadwork).

So first (and I’ve had these for a while) a set of three from Barbara Briggs bought while I was very into Contemporary Geometric Beadwork.  How I ever thought I would have the time for such substantial pieces made almost entirely of delicas I can’t say, but they are quite amazing:

Fantasy Floral Cuff by Barbara Briggs (image by Barbara Briggs)

Fantasy Flora Cuff

Mermaid Cuff by Barbara Briggs (image by Barbara Briggs)

Mermaid Cuff

Barbara Briggs Dragon WrapFire Dragon Wrap

I’ve been a huge fan of Sabine Lippert for many years, and have completed lots of her pieces, which gives me an excuse for accumulating so many patterns (plus two books) – although I have to say until I wrote this list I didn’t realise quite how many.  Sabine has a sale on at the moment for some of these patterns, and even with the ridiculously low pound they are super value:

Sabine Lippert Tchacka Boom BangleTchacka Boom Bangles – a free pattern using her spiky button beads.

Sabine Lippert Wanna be a ButterflyWanna be a Butterfly – another freebie, this time using her Rizos.

Sabine Lippert TweedTweed – I’ve already beaded the related Baroque Dimensional which has a similar basis – I just need to get organised and pick fire-polished colours for this as I’ll need to do a bulk order as it needs 460 4mms!

Sabine Lippert TurbulenceTurbulence – looks like a lovely, smallish project.

Sabine Lippert - BoomerangBoomerang Bling – another one which needs some planning/shopping, and a fair amount of work, but looks like it will be amazing when finished.

Sabine Lippert Squaricals and PenticalsSquaricals & Penticals – I tried to start this on holiday last year but was a few beads short.  I should do this soon – it looks lovely to bead.

Sabine Lippert Go-Dimensional


Go Dimensional
– a classic Sabine blingy beaded bead – my Rivoli stash is much more substantial now so I should be able to do this without shopping!

From Cindy Holsclaw at Bead Origami (my sister is a big fan, and I love the way Cindy works) courtesy of a small special offer:

Bead Origami Teardrop BubblesTeardrop Bubble Beaded Bead – I love beaded beads and I love Czech teardrops, easy choice.

Bead Origami Supercoiled RopeSupercoiled Beaded Rope – how completely cool is this – I need to know how it is done, and hopefully a bit of a stash buster.

None of you will be surprised to discover some of the fabulous Jean Power’s work lurking in my collection.  As well as lots of tutorials and book projects from her which I’ve already beaded and some inevitable UFOs, I have two still to do:

Jean Power Star FlowerStar Flowers – this is quite new so I don’t feel too guilty about this one.  I have some of the giant acrylic stones already, so this should happen soon!

Jean Power Interlocking CrystalsInterlocking Crystals – this is a Jean classic which I’ve had for years.  I tried it with some cheap rivolis a while back, and it didn’t work because they were a different shape to Swarovski ones, which is fair enough.  I’ll need to take a deep breath before starting this one as the necklace takes over 40 rivolis.

Actually, apart from the huge glut of Sabine’s patterns, and the fact that I also have a pile of beading books and magazines, this list doesn’t look quite as bad as I had expected.  Hopefully I’ll get onto some of them soon – I have all my new cabochons to work with first though, so don’t hold your breath!

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More UFOs

Last week I was hunting for my wire box (which should have been labelled, but the small people like to take the labels off, presumably to make life more fun), when I happened upon the UFO box. This should really be called the failure box, since this is where I put things I’ve given up on (genuine UFOs which I intend to finish live in a different box in a different room, and I’ve already blogged about them and done nothing to them since).

Amongst a tangle of hopeless failures and technical disaster zones I found several viable pieces, which I think got thrown in there in a hurry when I was clearing my stuff out of the spare room before we had the smallest boy.  As he is nearly two and a half you can see it’s been a while since I looked in there, so it was a pleasant surprise to find so much usable work! There were also some lovely beads and a finished pair of earrings……..

In no particular order we have:

  • The black net base for a Racel Nelson Smith Ootheca cuff.

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  • Part of another Rachel Nelson Smith piece in lovely earth colours.
  • A finished black and white hollow cube – a sample with more zip beads on the corners than I now do, so an early point in the evolution of this series, but I now think rather fun.
  • Some lovely mushroom beads, and a pair of earrings made from them.
  • A couple of salvageable beaded beads – the giant pewter ones has issues at either end, but can be embellished to hide them, and the blue one was an attempt at using RAW which didn’t go well, but will be fine as an Anenome base.

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  • The teeny ones were going to be part of a big piece, but bored me.  They will now be a nice little pendant, hung as a trio.

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  • A khaki and copper attempt at a sea urchin design, which failed as an urchin but could make a rather nice hollow beaded bead.
  • A long piece of peyote with graduated delicas that simply needs zipping round a wire core to make a necklace.
  • Assorted beads, stones and bits and bobs.

I did find the wire in the end, but got distracted and haven’t used it yet. Tomorrow…….

 

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Beaded Bead 7

Wow, seven already.  This is a variant on Bead 2, using smaller 4mm pearls, size 8 seeds and colour lined crystal 3.4mm drops which look very silly and lovely.  I was actually intending to use lentils rather than the drops, which is why I deviated from my usual colour scheme but  they simply didn’t work.

Recipe

4mm cerise glass pearls (picked up randomly on my beady travels)

Miyuki 3.4mm drops Hot Pink Lined Crystal (colour 23)

Galvanised Zest duracoat Miyuki 4205 size 8 seeds

 

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Beaded Bead 4

And so to my stash of patterns.  I sat down just after I started this project and looked through my various beading books, bookmarking all of the beaded beads I thought would fit in.  And my, there are a lot.  And then I turned to my digital library of beading magazines, and remembered that Beadwork had done a series of Beaded Beads a couple of years back.  I tried some of them at the time, but didn’t have quite the right beads in my stash, and have had more success this time.  I’m not going to do the whole set of 5 (as this is a stash only project and I don’t think I’ve got all of the larger beads needed for some of them), but here’s the first one anyway.

Cluster Beaded Bead - Gwen Fisher - Beaded by Sarah Cryer Beadwork

Cluster Beaded Bead – Gwen Fisher – Beaded by Sarah Cryer Beadwork

It’s from the April/May 2012 Beadwork Magazine, and is by Gwen Fisher – Cluster Beaded Bead.  It’s a super one, goes together really nicely and quickly.  I don’t tend to have many 8mm rounds knocking around though, so I will need to order some more if I want to repeat this one.

Recipe

8mm rounds – Neon Purple (BeadsofBohemia)

3mm Fire polished – I substituted 3mm rounds, Neon Ocean Blue Matt (Robin’s Beads)

15 & 11 seeds – Miyuki 1051 Galvanised Silver

8 seeds – Miyuki 356 Purple lined Amethyst AB

Tips

None really, nice pattern, clear instructions.  I mainly worked off the illustrations rather than the written out steps, which is normal for me, but the steps seem clear if you’re more comfortable with those.

This has inspired and helped me with Beaded Bead 6, although I see now looking at the diagrams again that I used a significantly different thread path and set of steps for Bead 6, even though I thought I was doing something similar………..

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Beaded Bead 6

The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that this isn’t exactly running in order – that’s because some of the beaded beads are easier to blog about than others.  For example beads 4&5 are photographed, but I need to pull out the references and links needed to give the designers proper credit.  Bead 6 is one of mine so less digging needed.

Bead 6 is actually a set of samples which will hopefully evolve into a new tutorial – not quite there yet, as in samples 1 & 2 there’s a size 11 placement which annoys me, and the spikes in sample 3 are rather wobbly.  But I will persevere.

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Sample 1 was born of beading lots of different beaded beads, and getting one of the possible structures so stuck into my brain that I had to try it in spikes.  It uses 12 spikes, woven into a kind of a cube with trios at the corners.  At least I think it is – looking at the finished ones I’m no longer sure (best take some step by step photos of sample 4).

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Sample 2 uses gumdrops (they are often interchangeable with standard size spikes as they have the same size base – 7mm).  It switches to 11s from 15s in some places, but as you can see above still has 11s in the trios and they don’t sit right.

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And sample 3 is back to spikes to try and iron out some flaws in 1&2 by just using 15s.  Still not right though, the spikes are more wobbly than 1.  One more combination left to try I think……..

Anyway, no recipe yet or tips since you can’t try this one at home, but bear with me and it will emerge eventually as a tutorial.