I don’t know about you, but I always feel like I don’t have enough time – enough time to work, clean, play with the boys, rest, relax, and above all, I don’t feel like I spend enough time beading in a productive way. When I’m at my day job, I start a task, move through it, maybe edit my outputs a bit, but generally I can just get on with it. And at home, I can just get on with things, albeit with the distractions of two small children to contend with.
But when I’m beading, even after years of practise, I still seem to spend more time unpicking than creating, and this bothers me. But why – as I unpick and redo endlessly surely I’m learning something, making my design repeatable for others (rather than bodging to make it work once), improving my own knowledge and technique? So why do I find it so frustrating? At this point I should say, if you’re reading this hoping for the answer to avoiding re-work, or learning from your mistakes, I don’t have it – I’m just putting the question out there for now.
Some things I do know though which can help with this:
If you bead tired you will mess up. I always bead tired as I only get to bead in the evenings once the boys are asleep and I’ve cleaned up, cooked dinner and faffed around for a bit deciding what to do. This could be why I always mess up.
Get a good light. Then you won’t get quite so tired.
Don’t bead in front of University Challenge – you will either get an embarrassing number of questions wrong, or mess up your beading.
Don’t expect every piece to turn into a repeatable unit – I made a lovely bezel base for a neon pink Lunasoft cab last weekend. I then used that base to make a ring using gorgeous daggers and another Lunasoft cab, and it went together like a dream. When I returned to the original pink cab ready to add some dinky spikes to my oh so clever bezel I realised that they wouldn’t fit. After an evening going backwards and forwards I finally finished with a pretty clever arrangement only to realise that the spikes are far too small for the cab. I have of course learnt from this experience, and will no doubt dig out a smaller cab but how annoying, and don’t I wish now I’d gone to bed an hour earlier?
Have a place to keep nearly finished pieces – the brooches waiting for a brooch back, the components looking for an inspired construction. Then when you have a quick 30 minutes you can batch finish several – yesterday I remembered where I had put the glue and completed two brooches, a bracelet and a ring! OK, I finished the actual beadwork on them ages ago, but the real sense of achievement kicks in once they are done (and not sitting at the back of your mind nagging you).
If you feel like you’re not getting stuff done, keep track. This morning I grabbed all of my recently finished pieces and .was very pleasantly surprised. OK many of them were started many months ago, but they are done now so I can move on.
If it’s not working, stop, go to bed. Yes it may be better to carry on straight away if you can see a possible solution, but then again it might not, so you may as well get some sleep and try again fresh tomorrow. Or indeed try again next month.
And finally, unpicking is OK. Beading is way too slow a process to put up with something you aren’t happy with, particularly in the big pieces. I started my latest CGB work with a MRAW band which then didn’t work as the piece started to fold, and really started to vex me. So I finished the outside of the piece, put it away for a bit and then when I felt strong enough, took a deep breath and unpicked the beginning. I then added a new inside which also then began to annoy me, so I put that away for a bit longer, got it out again yesterday, unpicked it again, tried something slightly different (and a lot less clever) and now at last the damm thing is finished. Third time lucky – hopefully the luck will hold out as it’s my entry for the Etsy Beadweaver’s Team October Challenge! You can see more pictures in the Etsy listing (click on the image below).
Of course the test of all this is going to be whether I can take my own advice. Reading it through again I’d have to say it seems unlikely……
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.
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.
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
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………..
Domestic commitments yesterday mean I am no longer working a day ahead! So here is day 4, just in time. This one was quite fiddly and took a while to complete, but I like the results. As a set they are looking rather splendid.
I have also done half of day 5, which went together more quickly, but want to check placement of the second half, so will wait for Jean to post her picture tomorrow……….and it is way past my bedtime anyway!
Here in the UK the Beadworker’s Guild’s National Beading Week will begin tomorrow (25th July). There are lots of activities all over the country, at Bead Groups and in shops, but as I am a bit constrained by work and it bring the school holidays, I’m joining the beading community remotely in a few different ways. Firstly, I’m taking part in Jean Power’s Secret Bead Along – I’ve completed my prep work which you can see at the top of this post with my beads all ready, and a bit of day 1 (a bit early but I couldn’t wait, photos tomorrow). As you can see I have chosen very subtle colours.
Anyway, you can read all about it on Jean’s site or read my blog post containing the details here. I’ll be popping a quick blog post out every day to show progress, and you can follow lots of other beader’s work on the Secret Beadalong Facebook group which Jean has set up. Over 4000 beaders worldwide have signed up for this, which is absolutely amazing – Jean has done an amazing thing and it’s really very exciting and inspiring taking part. For me the lovely thing is knowing that so many other beaders will be working on the same piece at the same time. That includes that my little sister Susie Hoad, who I taught to beadweave a few years ago and got hooked on Jean’s work. She is now a designer and teacher in her own right, and we plan to finish the last day’s beading together next Saturday, which will be just lovely. Being Susie she is doing two colourways (but she is a teacher so I guess she has nothing to do now school has broken up – or could it be that indecisiveness runs in the family?).
Secondly I’m going to kick off a project for this blog to celebrate the awesome range of beadweaving going on around the world – ‘Beading Beaded Beads’. I’m going to be coming back to one of my original reasons for blogging – to show, review & comment on tutorials and patterns by other designers (as well as writing about my own original work). I’ve put together a range of beaded beads, some from books & tutorials I already own, some from free tutorials, and some of my own designs, and the idea is that over the coming months I will focus on beading them. I’ll be working from my stash, so I’m going with two colourways (as even my stash won’t accommodate the range of beads required to complete the various designs in one colour scheme) – bright fuchsia, lime, scarlet and orange, and fuchsia (again), indigo, cobalt and a bit of silver and gunmetal. Hopefully I will end up with two very spectacular necklaces. You can see the initial cut of designs on a Pinterest Board here, if you have any suggestions (or designs you’d like me to road test) then comment here or on Facebook and I’ll give them a try too.
I started beading earlier this week, and was hoping to have the first beaded bead to show off for the start of National Beading Week, but sadly the first beaded bead did not go well. Out of fairness to the designer I’m going to have another go before I post about it………….probably just me being tired and being a bit of a tight beader.
The utterly fabulous Jean Power is holding a Secret Bead Along for National Beading Week. It’s £5 to participate, or if you either subscribe to her newsletter (recommended – always interesting, you hear first about new designs and usually get a discount code for patterns) or are a member of the Beadworker’s Guild its’ FREE. I have my instructions for the pre-work, and am currently faffing about what colours to use (normal for me I know, but worsened by not knowing what I’m actually working towards)! Hopefully my sister Susie Hoad will also be participating – we are off on holiday together towards the end of that week and it would be great fun to finish off together. I don’t get to bead with other beaders in person very often, so I love the idea that so many of us will all be beading together around the country (or perhaps the world), and even if we’re not in the same room it will be supercool to see what everyone produces.
Above is a picture of one of Jean’s designs (beaded my me) so you can see just how exciting her work is!
Normally I’m pleased when I sell something, but to be honest I felt quite sad this week when a lovely customer bought my favourite Heliotrope Cocktail Ring. When I made it I thought hard about listing it, as it is very me, but given that I never get to wear most of the things I make for myself (and I was on maternity leave at the time, so even less likely to wear it) I photographed and listed it on Folksy. The form is a simple one – three peyote circles – two forming exaggerated ring bands and the third bezelling a big vintage Swarovski flat back from Robin’s Beads. The colour of the crystal is totally fab (deep blue with turquoise and magenta highlights) and it’s a discontinued finish, so hard to get at all let alone a nice big one like this. Hopefully Robin’s Beads will have some more crystals left, as now it is gone I can’t help wanting another one for myself…….
Well my very first attempt at an Etsy Beadweavers Team Challenge was a success – the Nasturtium Ring came joint first! Even more amazing was realising that the two other winners are really very good, serious beaders – Chris Maj (Etsy Shop here) and Hannah Rosner (Etsy Shop here). So good, that they are both so busy with their Battle of the Beadsmith entries that they asked me to suggest the next challenge theme on my own. Yes, that’s right, real Battlers and me, corresponding and beading! What’s really lovely is that I’ve been feeling a bit stuck beading wise lately – I don’t really have enough time or energy to tackle as much new original work as I’d like, so to sit down and bead an entirely new piece in one weekend and be so pleased with it is great.
Anyway, I’ve chosen ‘Architecture’ as the next challenge theme – participants have until July 5th to list their pieces on Etsy, so keep an eye on the EBW blog to see what everyone comes up with. I have a feeling that it will produce a good wide ranging set of pieces, which will be very interesting. As for myself, I’ve been pinning away here but haven’t quite decided what to do yet – I do have some amazing beads which I ordered before I knew I’d won which look just like the ‘Gherkin’ (the Swiss Re Tower here in London), so maybe something London themed…….then again I also bought a darling little Eiffel Tower from the same seller so who knows?