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.


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).



Boomerang Bling – Sabine Lippert

I wrote a while back about all the lovely patterns I have stored up which I was waiting to work on, and I’ve finally actually managed to make one. Sabine Lippert is a favourite of mine – I find her patterns really relaxing to bead, but I’ve not made many of her bigger pieces, largely because of the volumes of beads needed. As a stash lover I’m always a bit uncomfortable actually using my beads……. But as of recently I’m now able to buy some beads in wholesale packs, so when I bought a lovely big bag of 3mm matte sliperit fire polished beads, and a good sized pack of 3mm fuchsia preciosa bicones which worked beautifully together, the time was come to grab some etched sliperit 4mm fire polished and seeds out of my stash and make the lovely Boomerang Bling.

It’s a completely genius pattern – essentially CRAW or PRAW but with some clever twists and additions, but largely unebellished meaning the basic network and form really shines through, making a beautiful 3d fabric of beads. After the first few components I really got into the design, and was able to bead the remainder without constantly referring to the pattern, which was really relaxing.  And it’s woven in one continuous rope, which means less stopping and starting and minimises the end weaving in.   I made one tiny change, which isn’t noticeable – because I was using etched beads I didn’t have any 15s (which form the tip of each boomerang component), so I stuck with the 11s.  Which still look great – thank you Sabine!


Christmas Secret Beadalong 2017

Do you know I’ve done every one of Jean Power’s Summer Beadalongs, but never a Christmas one?  I’m not really sure why – it’s a very busy time of year for us, whereas in the summer I’m usually away with the family, with quiet evenings to work.  And I guess I’m also not a big kit buyer (all of the previous Christmas beadalongs have been kit only). So this year when Jean told me that she was releasing it as a pattern rather than kitting it, and that even better, it used standard delicas rather than the tiny 15 delicas and 15 seeds she featured in the previous year’s, I said ‘well I’ll do it then’. And do it I did. And I really enjoyed it.

I didn’t always manage to stick to the daily allocated beading – initially I got a bit ahead and then I had to have a big break and went from ahead, to right, to very behind, but it was an enjoyable process. The amount of beading was actually really just right for December – if I hadn’t had other pieces on the go (unplanned Christmas brooches, sudden ideas which just had to be tried, and several batches of cabochons), it would have been perfect. Each night’s work was under an hour for me, so had I not been distracted I could have made up for nights out and away from my beads comfortably.

But the pattern is lovely – very Jean, annoyingly clever, and the finished result is splendid. I went for a ‘change colour every row’ approach as that seems to be becoming my thing for peyote with delicas, and I love the finished effect, which used purples and fuchsias. It’s used up a few more beads from my stash, and meant I didn’t have to buy more to have enough of a single colour. The central crystal AB Swarovski crystal was also from my stash, as were the lovely fuchsia 2xAB bicones.  It’s now hanging from our desk light – it was far too lovely to send up into the loft when we took the tree down!

Jean has been making lots of these, and working on some variations using acrylic stones, different sized petals etc. I have a coral acrylic stone in my stash so I’m going to have a go at making a pendant sized one when I get some time – have a look at Jean’s various blog posts to see what she’s been up to and what that could look like. And if you fancy making one yourself then the pattern is still available here.


Materials Packs – Yay!

So I finally got my act together and made some Materials Packs using the lovely Hoechtmass Tape Measures that arrived about a month ago. They are very well made, and should last well, and their slightly recessed outer edge means the beads sit really nicely. The colours are absolutely stunning too – I got lots in the fantastic deep fuchsia (obviously) and then two each in some of the other colours. I’ve used the fuchsia in two of the new packs, and the red, jade & purple, but I’ve still got some pink, yellow & orange left to come up with some more combinations.  They are available here in my Etsy shop.

I’ve also been able to get hold of some fantastic Czech beads, including matte glittery, neon or ‘happy’ finish rounds, etched glittery, matte slipperit (my complete favourite) or metallic ice fire polisheds.

I should say though at this point that because the Hoechtmass Tape Measures are so very well made, they cost me several times as much as my usual tapes.  I’ve tried to absorb some of this, but I do need to charge slightly more for these packs – £22 instead of £20. I do still have packs using standard tape measures too in some lovely colourways here if you prefer.  Additionally the Hoechtmass Tapes have a smart metal end, rather than a plastic removable tab, so there is no need/option to add a beaded bead or tassel, so I don’t include additional beads for this.

So at the moment I have in stock the new Baroque Tape Measure Materials Packs ‘Plus’ with Hoechtmass Tape Measures  here in:

Silver & Fuchsia – this colourway goes with the Navy & Fuchsia Space Needle Materials Pack (currently out of stock in Long, but in stock in Short). It includes Etched fire polished and Matte Glittery beads plus all the usual Swarovski, Preciosa and Miyuki beads. I’ve made one of these as you can see from the picture to check that the etched beads don’t cause any fit problems, and to check the sizing on the new tape measures and it looks fantastic!

Crimson & Silver – this colourway goes with the Crimson & Silver Space Needle Materials Pack ((currently in stock in Long, and Short). It includes Metallic Ice fire polished and Matte Glittery beads plus all the usual Swarovski, Preciosa and Miyuki beads.

Fuchsia & Dark Golds – this colourway adds gold to my original Fuchsia & Bronze version for added sparkle. It includes my current favourite matte Slipperit fire polished and some completely stunning ‘Happy’ finish round beads. plus all the usual Swarovski, Preciosa and Miyuki beads.

Blackberry – Fuchsia, purple & plum combine for a bruised blackberry treat. Again this uses the matte Slipperit fire polished and ‘Happy’ finish round beads. plus all the usual Swarovski, Preciosa and Miyuki beads.

Jade & Silver – Emerald, silver, crystal & vivid blue for an oceanic mermaid like zinger.  This one uses blue neon rounds for added ‘glow in the dark’ fun, the etched fire polisheds again and the usual Swarovski, Preciosa and Miyuki beads.  And for once, unusually for me, no red or fuchsia…..


And finally, an update on my shops.  I’m starting to separate out my Etsy and Folksy shops, to make it easier to manage stocks on the packs and supplies side.  As previously my Etsy shop will have a limited range of my finished pieces, plus all of my Materials Packs, Cabochons and Tutorials for download.  My Folksy shop will have all of my available finished beadwork pieces, but nothing else, and I’ll continue to offer an alternative source for Tutorials through PayHip via the Tutorials page here on my blog.


Marie Antoinette

Every year the lovely team at Stitch and Craft in Dorset hold a ‘Challenge’ Competition.  I’ve entered four times now, and every year I’ve found the process both challenging and useful – it’s the best way I know to push myself, using their topics and materials to explore new techniques and styles, and try to produce the best work I can.  It’s produced some of my most successful designs (both the Baroque Tape Measure and Space Needle Case started life as elements of my first entry, a Beader’s Chatelaine) with several more from other challenges just waiting to be written up.  Sometimes it’s a bit painful, sometimes it’s fun, and often as with this year I end up with something quite unexpected.

So this year the theme was ‘Fit for a Queen’.  We were sent three packs across the course of the year, each containing a brief and some Swarovski Elements which needed to be used.  That’s always a challenge – I knew early on that I wanted to produce a set, so not knowing what colour the elements would be made things very tricky, and effectively meant that the bulk of my work wasn’t done until I’d had the third set at the beginning of this year.  As I was busy on my pineapple this wasn’t a problem!

My palette was etched and matte vitrail, silver, light siam and light siam AB, a smattering of fuchsia, and crystal and crystal AB.  I also used some hand dyed and rolled habutai silk cord,  some vintage French velvet ribbon, a lot of Nicole’s Bead Backing, some foam board, cocktail sticks, some crinkled metallic silk organza, a metal hairband and a fair amount of glue.  If that sounds a bit Blue Peter, then I think the pictures of the final piece probably explain the odd ingredients.

The cuff is an MRAW bezel around the supplied Crystal AB Navette with added bicone fringe, mounted on a peyote band which allows it to slide sideways so you can access the hidden catch.  The antique velvet is appropriately French, the gathers onto the catch hopefully make it look like a bow as Marie Antoinette wore bows on absolutely everything.

The necklace is a Riviere – a late 18th century style which she might have worn (although I can’t find any pictures of her wearing anything other than a simple ribbon choker).  The graduated stones are a mix of the supplied Light Siam and some Light Siam AB, with a 3d netted bezel which uses the same pattern and thread path for every size of bezel – just with different sizes of the different types of beads.  I’m quite please with this as it’s lovely to be able to use the same pattern for so many different sizes (running from 8mm to 18mm), so I hope to get it written up and published reasonably soon.  To tie in the ribbon/bow element I used rolled silk habutai cord in the same shade as the velvet of the cuff as a tie instead of a catch, adding vitrail spike beaded beads to the ends for a nice finish.  The pictures below show the evolution of the layout and design (it started as a very different piece!):

And then finally there is the tiara.  In all honesty it doesn’t seem that Marie Antoinette wore tiaras – they weren’t really in vogue until a little later, with aristocratic French ladies of her time wearing ribbons, brooches and jewels in their enormous, elaborate ‘pouffe’ hairstyles.  And of course they also wore funny little models – the most famous of which were ships – frigates in full sail worn to commemorate the victory of ‘La Belle Poule’ in battle.  Completely barking, and I really, really just had to bead one, and somehow make it into a tiara.  After some pondering and in response to a rapidly approaching deadline (and slight competition fatigue) I abandoned my original plan to bead weave one (honestly what was I thinking) and switched to bead embroidery as although the beading side is not quicker, once I’d designed and cut out the structure I would know it would work – beadweaving is way too hard to predict and design on this scale.  I’d noticed that the Nicole’s Bead Backing I’ve started using is quite stiff, and wondered if I could use it for a 3d structure – so I made the hull of a frigate out of card, fiddled a bit and then got going.

This was very much a ‘just get on with it’ experiment – my first 3d bead embroidered structure, with everything other than the flat stitching entirely new to me and completely made up.  But I think in the end it worked.  It’s probably safe to say that it’s not my most polished work (the wire on the masts is particularly cringeworthy) but it is beyond a doubt my most favourite beaded piece ever.  Many of you have asked if it will be available as a tutorial and I can safely say absolutely definitely not – the chances of being able to recreate it in such a way that anyone else could repeat it are nil, and I think it will remain as a unique example of what trying to beat beader’s block late at night after too much wine can do.  But I will be doing more bead embroidery in the future and in will definitely not be in any way flat.

In the end I didn’t win (I did win last year so I think it was a bit much to hope to repeat that with such a very different entry, that was so very very bonkers), and neither did my little sister Susie Hoad (who entered the same class – we need to stop entering the same competitions for the good of family harmony).  All of the entries and most especially the winners were quite amazing – the theme generated some stunning work of incredible variety, which you can see on Stitch and Craft’s Facebook page,  and  I really enjoyed taking part.  All three pieces were great learning experiences, and two out of the three are very wearable.  I’m still not sure whether I will ever wear the third………………so it will join my pineapple in some kind of suitable display, and make me smile.


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.