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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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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)

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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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

Bruised

Bruised

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).

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Materials Packs for Great Balls of Spikes

I’ve been meaning to put together some Materials Packs for my Great Balls of Spikes Tutorial for ages, and on Saturday I had the time (well I had the energy to stay up late to make the time).  So here they are – I hadn’t realised quite how many Spikes & Gumdrops I’ve managed to collect whilst ‘meaning to do this’, so there is a nice variety of colours and finishes to suit all tastes.  I’ve really dug around in my stash to find some interesting finishes for the seeds and fire-polished beads, and am parting with some really nice ones which I’ve been hoarding.  My favourite is the Magic Orchid Spike colourway, because the spikes are gorgeous and really sing with the Zest, Fuchsia and Magic Orchid seeds and Magenta Metallic fire-polisheds, and quite frankly if someone doesn’t buy it soon it may mysteriously disappear.

Anyway, here they all are – if you click on each photo it should take you through to the correct listing in my Folksy shop.  If you’d rather use Etsy, then the brights (Magic Orchid, Cornflower, Frosted Crystal) are here, the darks (Matte Black, Jet Copper, Blue Iris) here, and the Gumdrops (Magic Blueberry, Jet Slipperit) here.

Magic Orchid Spikes

Magic Orchid Spikes

Magic Blueberry Gumdrops

Magic Blueberry Gumdrops

Cornflower Spikes

Cornflower Spikes

Dark Blue Iris Spikes

Dark Blue Iris Spikes

Jet Slipperit Gumdrops

Jet Slipperit Gumdrops

Matte Black & Crimson Spikes

Matte Black & Crimson Spikes

Jet & Copper Spikes

Jet & Copper Spikes

Matte Crystal, Scarlet & Silver Spikes

Matte Crystal, Scarlet & Silver Spikes

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).

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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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The Sting

I’ve been working really hard on a competition piece recently, and after a month’s solid discipline I fell of the wagon last week and wandered off into other beading.  I’m sure the break will be good for me, but none of the other beading really worked and that made me rather antsy.  When this happens, there are two options – have a night off beading, or do something which can’t fail.  I didn’t want a night off, so I turned to my stash of digital patterns to find something by a designer who never lets me down – Sabine Lippert.  Just before Christmas she had a pattern sale, so I had a little splurge on a few patterns, including her pendant ‘Sting’.  This looked like something which would be achievable in an evening or two, so I pulled some beads and got going.

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It was a good decision – as always with Sabine’s designs this piece went together very nicely.  It took around 3.5 hours – I’m used to Sabine’s designs so can usually work them up quite quickly, and I found this one pretty easy, with everything just slotting together perfectly for a contented evening’s beading.  It’s given me my beading mojo back, and with some child free time off the day job coming up, I feel refreshed and ready to get some of those long awaited tutorials finished and launched soon.

Recipe

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  • 15 seed – Miyuki Duracoat Cranberry 4211
  • 11 seed – Miyuki Matte Silver Grey 2012
  • SuperDuo – Jet Gunmetal Pearl
  • Delica – Miyuki Matte Pewter 321
  • 3mm Crystals – Swarovski Paparadscha AB2 (slightly hard to find colour in 3mm – I got mine at a show from Gemstone Boutique)
  • Spikes – Dark Bronze.  I have no idea where they came from!
  • 3mm Round – I didn’t have any in the right colour, so I used some Saturated Fuchsia firepolisheds from Robin’s Beads, which worked well.
  • 6mm Round – I used an orange FP, this can’t really be seen so you just need something that tones in.
  • 14mm Rivoli – Chinese (not as fine a finish as Swarovski or Preciosa, so they don’t work with a tighter bezel, but a fantastic colour which neither of them offer and worked for this project – from the Southampton Bead Shop)

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The ribbon (I know it needs a press, it’s been lurking in my stash for ages) was hand dyed by Stef Francis, a fantastic space dyer who I came across in my sewing days.

Tips

I usually find my tension too tight for Sabine’s pieces, because of the 3D embellishments and layering.  So I relaxed things a bit, but unfortunately I shouldn’t have done as this is one which requires stiff tension to create a solid rod of peyote, so it came out a bit floppy.  However, I have stuck a head pin down the middle and it’s fine!

Sabine does warn you about this in the blurb on her site, but not in the pattern.  Because I’d bought the pattern a while ago, I’d forgotten what the blurb said, but to be honest a beader of my experience should know that if you want to make a peyote tube rigid you’ve got to do some pretty solid stitching, and use a suitable thread – Sabine recommends Fireline explicitly in the materials list (which should have been another clue) but I’ve gone off it a bit, so I used KO which is clearly not going to give the same rigidity.  So entirely my fault, but a useful learning experience (just when you think you have things sussed…..), and it still looks fine.  If I make this design again, which I probably will, I might perhaps stick a cocktail stick down the middle for extra stiffness anyway (the head pin I used is after all flexible).

Sting - Sabine Lippert - beaded by Sarah Cryer

Colours

One of my resolutions this year is to include more neutral colours in my beadwork – I have a tendency to chuck colour at things, which sometimes gives me an amazing looking piece which is completely unwearable.  I try to avoid beading with black as it’s hard work, and anyway I wear a lot of navy blue rather than black, so I’ve been using a lot of 401FR and similar to give me a navy base.  I’m also getting really into pewter, and other matte, mid greys, as they work well with the etched beads I’m currently obsessed with, so for this piece I chose a selection of those tones for the base beads, and variations on a dark salmon pink for the main colour.  I toyed with a few different spikes (which you can see in the materials picture), but in the end the dark metallic chocolate worked best. This was going against my instincts, which were to pick out the fuschia and orange of the stone, and maybe chuck in some zest, but I think it’s worked well and given me a striking but wearable piece, proving that this is a good resolution!

Conclusion

A lovely piece, well worth buying and trying.  Rock hard tension and the correct thread would have helped keep the main shaft rigid, so always read the instructions.  I’m going to get back to my own work for now, but next time I need a break I’ve got Sabine’s Toggle Ring tutorial to try.