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Materials Packs for Sunstar

So I finally had time to put together some materials packs for my Sunstar brooch tutorial.  The tutorial uses basic bead embroidery to bezel a 30mm domed cabochon, and then add some amazing dagger beads to make a striking giant flower.  The finished piece was designed as a brooch, but also makes a stunning pendant, and the cunning brooch pin in these packs already has a bezel on so you can wear your finished piece as either a brooch or a pendant without any adjustments.

Three of the packs are based around my own hand painted cabochons, and also include amazing Czech etched beads – both seeds and daggers.  The etched daggers were the original inspiration for this design, so it’s been great picking the right colours for these packs, and it’s been even nicer getting to play with my Pebeo paints and custom make cabochons to compliment the daggers exactly.

Colourways are Vitrail dots (I mean how amazing are those dotty etched daggers, and though I say it myself the cabs are exquisite); Sliperit (etched Sliperit is my absolute favourite of these finishes, and I use it constantly so it seemed right to share), and Magic Apple (a partially transparent red and green finish, with metallics which was the first colourway I made this brooch in).

The fourth pack is based around some amazing matte canary yellow daggers, and my own hand made Liberty print cabochons, with this colourway guaranteed to bring sunshine into even the darkest day.  So you don’t feel left out of the etched bead side though, some of the seed beads in this set are etched too.

As well as the beads and cabochon, each materials pack contains Nicole’s Bead Backing as the embroidery foundation, Ultrasuede for the brooch backing, and the dual purpose brooch pin and pendant bail.  As with all of my packs, the tutorial needs to be purchased separately, and you will need to dig out your own beading needles, thread and some strong glue.  The tutorial and packs are available in my Etsy shop here.

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Monet’s Garden at Giverny

This year for the Stitch n Craft challenge the theme was ‘Anything Goes’ – so no theme, no packs, no requirements, just enter something you’ve worked on this year that you’re proud of.  So I beaded away at a particular thread of an idea, and was getting really pleased with it when I realised it didn’t really meet a key requirement to use some beads bought from them.  Yes the core of the work used their beads, but the flashy bits, the visible bits were all from elsewhere.  So this didn’t really feel to me like it was entering into the spirit of the competition, so although I ‘d already paid the entry fee I decided to pause for a little think.

Whilst I was thinking (OK procrastinating) the theme was announced for another competition that fit my nearly complete piece perfectly.  In every other way that competition seemed like a better fit for it, so I decided to enter something else at Stitch and Craft instead – another one of my big bead embroidered necklaces perhaps, using beads that were definitely from them and some of my own cabochons?

Digging around I found a set of experimental cabs that I made in the early days using the left over paint mess from a salad spinner painting session with the boys.  Surreal but true.  The drips and dribbles gave an acrylic pour effect, and I’d even tried mopping up the excess paint from the side of the spinner by blotting, giving a lovely blotchy effect which I’d then used to make a huge 50mm cab.

The large cab made me think of Monet’s waterlily paintings, particularly those in the Orangery in Paris, where if you stand close the beautiful paints form gorgeous abstract patterns.  In turn that made me think of water, with silvery bubbles and that got me to my base colour scheme of silver, etched vitrail and metallic mint green (Miyuki 4214 and 4214F), and I started my usual process of pulling out a big range of beads to kick start the design process.  A stash search unearthed some vitrail ridged back cabs from The Old Bicycle Shop, and a wonderful crumple backed oval Crystal Electra geode cabochon from Stitch n Craft themselves.  The colours though were still a bit subtle, and I needed to call on more of the contrasting colours in the cabs and crystals, so I added some pink – not my usual fuchsia though, but a more subtle Swarovski Crsytal Peony Pink (again from Stitch N Craft).  And finally I spent some of my Beadworker’s Guild Founder’s Award prize money on some gorgeous Anna Bronze findings, this time in an antique silver finish, but repeating some of the organic shapes I’d used in that piece.  Then I got stuck in, using what is becoming a standard process for these type of pieces.

First I did a rough layout and photographed it, then rather than bezelling onto a single backing I bezelled each of the flat backed hand made cabs onto a separate piece of backing.  I do this because I find that adding the bezel changes the shape, size and overall appearance of the cab, and usually means I want to alter the layout significantly (usually to add more space).  I used a simple backstitch/peyote bezel – quick and secure, adding a picot to some but not all.  If you want to learn how to do a basic back stitch/peyote bezel then take a look at my SunStar tutorial which takes you through this technique.

Then I did the beadwoven bezels for the crystals and other cabochons – biggest first, then using a variant of whatever bezel I came up with for that one (with less repeats, or smaller beads) on the smaller ones to give a sense of continuity, and a repeat of the method I used on my Great Dixter necklace for the chatons.

Then I looked at layout again, adding the metal pieces, and did my trick of deciding on a shape based on a specific neckline – in this case I’m really glad because the original layouts had been for quite a shallow ‘v’ which wouldn’t have been great in wear.  Then I was ready to start attaching the bead embroidered cabs to a fresh base, using both glue and stitching (these are big cabs so it’ important to be secure, particularly if there is any flex in the finished piece as this could break the glue bond on bending).

Then I checked the layout yet again, working out how I would attach the bead woven cabochons (which sit up above the base and bead embroidered cabs, and where and how to attach the metal pieces.  This showed me what space to leave free, and where I needed to cover the base with bead embroidery – which I then did using simple stack stitch, and supplemented with some lovely Backlit Spectrum and Etched Vitrail 2 hole cab beads (in my head these were the bubbles in the water).  Next the attachment points for the straps (I didn’t complete the whole strap, as I wanted to check the length with the finished centrepiece, but I chose the beads, got it started and reinforced it repeatedly), and then finally I was able to secure the metal pieces and crystals.

At this point it was becoming apparent that the 50mm cabochon was pretty heavy.  Inevitably the bead backing is weakened as well when you stitch into it, so it was time for some serious reinforcement, sandwiching, glueing and stitching on additional sheets of backing, and even some flexible plastic cocktail sticks.

Of course those are hidden by the beading above, and the ultrasuede behind, so once that was on I worked on the edging, adding a picot to the focal cab and a simple sunshine edge to the remainder.

The neck strap of backlit 2 hole cabs was completed with simple loop and a vitrail Czech button from Snoochy, and then the whole thing was posted off to Dorset.

You can see all of the entries here on the Stitch n Craft website – in the end I was beaten on the day by Chloe Menage’s gorgeous bead embroidered headpiece, which she’d made for her own wedding.  However that’s not really why I enter competitions – it’s to stretch and challenge myself to do something original and ‘me’, and  I’m still really very pleased with this piece.  It’s the third I’ve made using this process (the first was my ‘Diva’, the second ‘Great Dixter), and each time it gets a bit easier, and a bit more enjoyable.  It was the last Stitch N Craft Beady picnic (and probably the last challenge) as they’re closing the studio to focus on mail order only, so as I’ve enjoyed them so much over the years I was really glad to be able to enter again this year, and I’ve got a lovely necklace to show for it too.

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Sun Star Brooch

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally finished my Sun Star Brooch tutorial.  This is my first bead embroidery tutorial, and has evolved over a number of years from a bezelled RAW ring to it’s current huge embroidered flamboyant form, with a centrepiece hand painted cabochon.  It plays to my ongoing obsession with Czech etched beads, particularly the larger sized seeds and absolutely amazing daggers.

Sun Star Brooch – Sarah Cryer Beadwork – Magic Apple

It uses a variety of bead embroidery techniques, including back stitch, bezelling using circular peyote, seeding and edging to make a statement brooch or pendant, and would suit beginner bead embroiderers comfortable with a needle – it’s an ideal project for beadweavers or embroiders looking to try out bead embroidery as it covers key basic techniques which you can then go on to try out in your own designs.  If you already have some bead embroidery experience, then this makes a lovely quick project – I can do one in an evening (although to be fair I have had quite a lot of practice and am a bit naughty about letting the glue dry properly).

Sun Star Brooch – Sarah Cryer Beadwork – Magic Apple and Crystal Marea

The thirteen page tutorial contains a full materials list, with suggestions for colour schemes, and every step is fully illustrated with a detailed diagram showing thread paths etc, with photos to show you what you are aiming for.  And of course every step is also written out clearly for those of us who prefer written instructions.

It’s available now in my Etsy shop as an instant download, as are the cabochons (both hand painted and Liberty print) and I hope to complete some materials packs in the next couple of days.

Once you’ve mastered the basic brooch, there are possibilities for variations which I hope to explore here over the next few months, so watch this space.   I’ve already worked out that you can add extra rows of embroidery around a smaller central cab if you can’t find a 30mm one:

How completely gorgeous are those capri rose etched beads?

And the advent of 2 holed daggers opens up some new ideas……..

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Playing with bright colours

I’ve been a little short on beady mojo lately – I have some big pieces and tutorials that are nearly done, I keep having to restock my materials packs and I’m plenty busy, but because I’m procrastinating about some of those things I don’t feel I want to start any big new designs of my own.  But I do want to bead, and I want to bead really really bright.  So I dug out one of my favourite books, and knocked up a couple of pieces in very summery colours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book is Sabine Lippert’s Beaded Fantasies, and I’ve made my favourite ‘Granada’ brooch, and a necklace which is new to me called Art Deco Necklace.  Sabine is an incredible designer, and I’ve made tonnes of her pieces, and it’s been really nice to return to the first book of hers that I bought and bash out some simple, quick and very wearable projects.

Obviously I love making Granada, as I’ve made it at least twice before, and I really enjoyed Art Deco too.  Sabine’s patterns are always easy to work from, and although they are a bit condensed and harder to follow in the book than in her individual self-published tutorials (presumably because there is a lot less space in a book), the diagrams are good and I didn’t really have any problems.

And though I say it myself, I LOVE my colours!  All the beads were from my stash as these were spur of the moment projects, and I especially love the neon coral 6mm Swarovski Pearls, which I got on sale from Stitch n Craft, the Crystal Light Coral Swarovski Rivoli (also Stitch N Craft), the 3mm milky lime bicones from Robin’s Beads, and in the necklace, the neon red matte rounds from Creative BeadCraft (must buy more….).

And I’ve also used another excellent Stitch n Craft find, a brooch back with bail, which will enable me to wear the Granada as either a pendant or a brooch.

 

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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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In my Folksy Shop

A while back I decided to make life easier for myself by taking my faster moving items (tutorials and materials packs) out of my Folksy shop, basing them solely on Etsy.  That way I didn’t have to fret about the materials packs being sold in two places at once, or manually e-mailing out the tutorials.  This was particularly important because most of my customers are over in the States, and tend to buy things while I’m asleep!

But because my Etsy shop is busy, it’s kind of sucked up my attention, and I’ve rather neglected my Folksy shop.  This is a shame, because it’s got some lovely pieces in, and they deserve a good home!  And they could probably also do with some new friends from the legion of half finished or finished but undocumented works which are cluttering up my new storage (more on that another day).  So I’m going to be working on refreshing the shop over the next few months, and thought I would start by reminding myself (and you) about some of the lovely pieces in there, starting with my Egyptian Collar.

A few years ago (OK a lot of years ago since it was pre children and the oldest boy is nearly 8) we went to Egypt.  This was the result of a long obsession by both myself and Dr. Indecisive Beader with all things Egyptological, and it’s inspired quite a few pieces in the years following.  This necklace was inspired by the amazing collars we saw both for real and in various paintings.  And as a special offer it is currently reduced from £75 to £60.

Egyptian Collar £60

The collar forms part of my ‘minerals’ series – pieces focussed around a central stone. The stone in the collar is a lovely matte Chrysocolla, and it’s captured with Miyuki delicas, then joined onto a herringbone band, which uses changes in bead size to form a flat, circular collar which sits really nicely round the neck.

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More Cabochons

So I’ve been playing again on the cabochon front. A chance discovery during a session of poster paint salad spinner painting with my youngest (google it) led to a very painterly set using the run off which reminded me of Monet’s Water Lilies.

That led immediately to another set using the kid’s paints, doll’s cups, and basic acrylic dirty pour techniques.

And then another couple.

Because these are all made using water based paints I won’t be selling them as I’m concerned about their durability in wear (although I am making things for me with them!) but panic not, because I’ve moved onto doing mini pours with actual acrylic paints, which are waterproof when dry, so will (hopefully) lead to some saleable versions. I say lead to as this is a whole new technique, with a new set of challenges, particularly around colour selection, so I’ve got a way to go. It took a year to get the Pebeo method right, so it may be a while, but it’s fun trying.

As well as the different patterns formed the acrylics come in a wider range of colours than the Pebeo, and are of course mixable, so I can finally make cabs with some of the colours Pebeo don’t offer such as fuchsia, pure white, black, and lime . Which is good as I use a lot of fuchsia!

Anyway, watch this space and I’ll let you know how I get on, and if and when I have some ready for sale I’ll let you know. In the meantime I have some lovely Pebeo ones for sale in my Etsy shop, and hope to list some more over the next week or so. If you favourite my shop in Etsy you’ll see any updates or new products in your personal front page, or keep an eye on my Facebook page (I post all shop updates there but Facebook might not show them in your newsfeed, so it’s always a good idea to pop in every so often and see what I’ve been posting).