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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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Secret Beadalong 2017 – Prep work and Day 1

As you know once again I’m taking part in Jean Power’s Secret Beadalong for the Beadworker’s Guild’s National Beading Week – you can read about the beads I’ve chosen and find links to last year’s here.  I finished my prep work just in time, and here’s my first day’s beading.  After some self doubt around colour choice (the prep work was all in a lovely but for me rather restrained matte pewter), I’m feeling much happier now I’ve moved onto adding in some copper.

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My sister Susie (from BeadingBySusie), with me this week and also beadingalong, has stuck to a more characteristic bright palette.   Our colour choices for joint projects are often similarly bright – she’s usually on the blue/turquoise side, with me on the red/fuchsia, but always both bright, so this is really highlighting my departure from the norm.

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Materials Packs

I’ve just realised I forgot to update you here about the addition of a new set of Materials Packs  for my Baroque Tape Measures.  As I said in my previous post, the plan is to stick with a set of colourways going forward, rather than building each pack individually, as this allows me to hold more of each one in stock.  I’ll vary the sets over time, but for now these are the colourways:

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Tequila Sunrise – my current favourite Yellow Opal rivolis, with my always favourite 407FR light red opaque matte rainbow seeds, and silver and orange to make a fun cocktail.

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Fuchsia and Bronze – the original and I still think the best!  The garnet AB rounds are a favourite, and this time I’ve included some lovely Halo coated fire-polisheds.

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Red and Gold – a splendiforous luxurious colourway, for VIP measurements.  Lots of Swarovski Light Siam, one of their most intense colours.  This would work well with the red colourway in my Space Needle Case.

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Turquoise, Silver & Scarlet – more Light Siam, this time mixed with opaque turquoise and silver for a Mediterranean feel.  This is a variant on one I made for myself a while back, shown below, but with some adjustments to balance the red and turquoise more effectively (it had too much turquoise on the edge and red in the middle, so I’ve swapped the rounds and fire-polisheds over for the pack).

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DSC_0398Vitrail, Lime & Silver – Medium Vitrail rivolis and shiny rounds, with a silver base and lime and turquoise highlights to pick out some of the colours in the rivoli.  I really love the opaque lime fire-polisheds with a half Vitrail coating in this.

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Fuchsia and Dark Plum – born initially of a bronze bead shortage, this grew into a lovely dark, intense colour way.

Sadly, because I’ve been so slow posting, the Fuchsia and Bronze has sold out, and the Fuchsia and Dark Plum I replaced it with has also sold out.  I hope to have one or both of them back in stock soon, but in the meantime this week I’ve listed the new Vitrail sets (which may not appear that often as the rivolis are more expensive and the other beads can be harder to source).  Anything I have is available in my Etsy shop here, or by clicking on the pictures (in the case of those still available), in my Folksy shop.   Do let me know if you have any ideas for colour ways you’d like me to make I the future.

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Diva – more adventures with bead embroidery

Apologies (yet again) for the quietness here and in my shops.  I’m working on two separate competition pieces at the moment, which means I can’t really post about them, but in between doing and re-doing them, I’ve finished another piece which this post is all about.  It’s a necklace I made for a concert – as a soloist I had an opportunity to make something with all of the enormous crystals I’ve been hoarding and dress up the plain black velvet dress the piece (Faure’s beautiful Requiem) required.  The concert went really well, and the necklace gave me an extra confidence boost.  Sadly I forgot to take pictures on the night but I have been taking them as I made it, so I thought it would be interesting to describe that process.

So – how did it come about?  I’d bezelled several modern and vintage crystals from my stash already using my usual MRAW into Peyote bezel, as I’d intended to use them for another piece, but it didn’t work out so they were sat in my workbag.  When the solo came up it seemed like the perfect chance to use them, so they were my starting point and set the initial colour scheme of silver, light matte pewter and etched vitrail with plain crystals.

Grouped together the bezelled crystals didn’t seem big enough to occupy the very deep V shaped neckline of the wrap style dress, so I had a root around and found a huge labradorite cabochon.  I mounted that on some grey Nicole’s Bead Backing, and cut a rough shape, adding wings at the top to join to the crystals. I bezelled using back stitch and then peyote, alternating bead and no bead on the final row for textural interest.  A back stitched row of tiny 2mm etched granite fire polished beads finished that part.

Next I had to decide how to put the piece together.  Because I was making for one very specific occasion, and one dress I wanted to use the shape of the dress to really enhance the piece.  So amid much laughter from my long suffering husband I cut a section out of a piece of A4 paper to leave room for my neck, then stuffed it into the front of the dress and drew the outline of the dress’s neckline onto the paper.  I also added a rough sketch of what I though the ideal shape would be – following the lines of the dress but giving a gap so that the piece would be nicely fitted and framed – giving me a probable outline and an idea of the space I would be working with in case that outline had to evolve.

Then on that paper I tried lots of different layouts, placing the bezelled stones in different combinations and positions until I settled on one.  

Next I needed to form a base – I’m not really used to bead embroidery, and had bezelled all of the crystals with a peyote band off an MRAW starter – only the labradorite cabochon was mounted on backing, and the backing was very small (poor planning on my part – I should have just worked on the full sheet and cut down later).  I had intended originally to link the stones with beads, but I had a change of heart and decided to back them instead, so I tacked an additional bit of backing onto the cab piece.  I kept it quite narrow (about a third of the finished width, rather than the full width) as I wanted the bezelled crystals to sit independently of any base, and to avoid the breastplate look so beloved of some bead embroiderers, as it’s just not to my taste.  This was almost certainly extra work compared to bezelling straight onto a backing, but it did allow me to avoid issues around the crystals not being flat backed, and I think the end result looks good.  So anyway, eventually the bezelled crystals were stitched in place onto the backing.  

Next I covered some of the backing and added some edge interest by stitching on some faceted drops – I had bought these a while back and they seemed to pick out the blues and purples in the labradorite.  Then things seemed to be getting a bit too flat, so I wanted to add some height – I beaded some herringbone rope which I nestled between the asymetric crystals (they were starting to look a bit like leaves) and then twisted and twined above the central stones – again using etched vitrail, with 8s in the central section and 11s either end to nestle into the gaps.  A couple of matte vitrail etched spikes filled in some more gaps and gave more textural interest, and a gorgeous waterlilly chaton with a rather risky minimal bezel broke up the rope a bit.

I used stacking (one large bead caught down and through with a smaller bead – in this case a mix of 8s and 6s caught with 11s) to fill in the remaining backing – again in the etched vitrail which looks absolutely amazing on the large 6 seeds, and then I was ready to think about a strap.  

I had originally intended to use silver chain because I had expected it to be covered by the dress, but a quick check showed this wasn’t going to be the case, so I felt something which continued the textures round, but was still quite delicate would be a good idea.  Another herringbone rope seemed called for, but I don’t have much luck with preserving a perfectly even tension on these, and with the etched beads this would be even more challenging.  So I went through my bead books and found a lovely delicate spiral rope in a Marcia DeCoster necklace – a bit of substituting gave me a central core of silver 11s, with an outer spiral of etched 11s surrounding either an etched 3mm or an etched 8.  I haven’t used spiral rope for years, but I actually really enjoyed it (after all the experimentation and fiddly bezelling earlier it was quite a relief to have something straightforward and repetitive).

While this was going on I backed the main piece – I wanted to secure the ropes to both the bezelled crystals and the backing first, and then I decided to order some grey rather than using the black ultrasuede I already had – I think it was worth the wait.  That then allowed me to edge – I had planned an extravagent fancy edge, but once I’d put the first brick stitch edge in place that felt like enough for now.

One last quick try on set the length for the rope, and I then followed Marcia’s example and used a simple loop and a rivoli I’d bezelled earlier to form a catch.

Rope complete, it was finally time to mount my favourite crystal – an unbacked vintage stone, which I’d given the barest of netted bezels, and wanted to use free of backing to display the capturing beads and the transparency.  I had hoped to link sides and base with crystals, but wasn’t happy with the visible threads, so I came back to the fire polished etched beads, and then off to seeds.  Then I tried the necklace on and found that the unbacked crystal was digging into the base of my throat slightly, which would have been a real distraction when singing, so I snipped the whole thing off again.

That would be why you’re always told to start new threads to do attachments – makes it much easier to simply change your mind!  That left me with a rather boring top edge to the central area, so another bezelled chaton attached at an angle broke that up nicely, and hey presto ‘Diva’ (what else could you call a necklace for a soprano) was complete.

In case you’re wondering about materials, this was made almost entirely from my stash so I’m a bit vague, but here’s what I know:

  • 2mm fire polished etched- Spoilt Rotten Beads
  • 3 & 4mm fire polished, all sizes of seed in etched vitrail – Bead Stampede
  • Miyuki seeds and delicas – Stitch N Craft
  • Vintage crystals (coloured leaves, round) – Old Bicycle Shop
  • Labradorite cabochon – Mark Varah Fossils
  • Nicole’s bead backing & Ultrasuede – Jencel
  • Crystal drops – My Vintage Charms & Creative Beadcraft
  • Asymmetric crystals – small – Swarovski shop in London many years ago – I didn’t have the skill to bezel such awkward shapes then so they’ve sat in my stash
  • Large asymmetric crystal – cheap local bead shop which has since closed!

 

It’s a good long list – I do seem to get around a bit!

Happy Beading!!

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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)

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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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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.