Beaded Bead 2

The first instalment of my new ‘Beading Beaded Beads’ project, in which I will bead lots of beaded beads and tell you all about it. Beaded Bead 1 was not good – I rather suspect this was my fault rather than the designer’s, so I’ll re-do it and tell you about it later.
Beaded Bead 2 is from a free tutorial by BeadTurtle.  It’s a nice simple tutorial using one of the standard techniques for building a dodecahedron – groups of 3 larger beads linked through groups of 5 smaller beads, and I’m sure some similar ones will appear later in this project.  She specifies size 10 seeds, but I don’t have any, and as this project is supposed to be a bit of a stash buster I had to use what I had already.  I’ve tried the tutorial before with size 11s and it didn’t work, so I went for size 8 seeds and tweaked the embellishment.

Recipe

30 6mm Opaque Turquoise rounds

<1g Seed beads size 8 Miyuki 1427 Silver lined dark violet

<1g Seed beads size 11 Miyuki 352 Fuchsia lined aqua lustre

Don’t worry too much about tension as the final embellishment of the seed bead groups of five tensions and stiffens the ball (up to that point it was alarmingly floppy).  Where she adds the yellow centre to the groups of size 10 seeds, I simply added an 11 between each of my 8s.

This was a lovely quick and comfortable project, and has given me a good base technique which I will use again and embellish.  Although I think these were my only 6mm rounds so there won’t be another one with rounds in this project – it would work equally well with any type of larger bead, and I’ve seen similar techniques applied to fire polisheds, crystals and even spikes.

For my next beaded bead I’m going to try an even simpler version, which omits the smaller groups of 5 and just goes for the triangles of larger beads – hopefully soon!  And then there is Beaded Bead 1 to try again………….

National Beading Week

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.

Success

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?

May the 4th be with you……

Ok, so it probably won’t still be May 4th by the time I post this, and to be honest I’m not really a big Star Wars fan.   I mean why does Yoda keep saying ‘you are wise young Jedi’ to Anekin – he’s clearly not even slightly wise, since he got his girlfriend pregnant and changed the fate of the universe – use contraception you twit?  That said, DH is a fan, I do like the concept of Star Wars day, and I have this awesome Icos pendant by Jean Power to tell you about which reminds me of the Death Star.

As usual it was a lovely design to work, there’s one tricky bit at the corners of the outer puffs, but once you’ve cracked that it goes together very nicely.  I would really really love to do one with crystals – it will look fab and be even quicker, but for now I’m really pleased with this one.  I don’t have anything to mount it from yet – I’m undecided as to whether to bead a loop.  Jean uses a wire loop on what I assume is a headpin, but since I didn’t plan ahead and put it in before I zipped up the final seam I will need to either come up with an alternative or unpick a bit.  I’m going to wear it with a purple tunic I live in at work during the winter, so I have a while to decide, now the weather has improved at last.

Recipe

Jean Power’s Icos pendant tutorial

10g of Miyuki delicas:

1005 Metallic Purple Gold Iridescent (C1 & C2)

463 Galvanised Dark Magenta (rows 1-3 of C3)

422 Galvanised Fuchsia (rows 4&5 of C3)

Tips

If I had been more organised I would have used a cheaper finish delica for the inner rows of the base triangle (Jean does point out that these rows won’t be visible and labels them C1, but I was away and only had the three colours with me).

What’s next

My next version might be in 15s – using 11s makes a nice bold pendant, with a finished diameter of 35mm, but using 15s will make something quite exquisite.  I will save that for some daylight beading though as teeny beads hurt my eyes – so perhaps first I will do a crystal version.  Jean still has some crystal sets, and Perles and Co have stock in a few colours (Swarovski seem to have discontinued this shape).  Alternatively I’m feeling quite bold at the moment and have some new yellow sandals, so perhaps I’ll get Jean’s yellow plastic stones and work up a vintage colourway…………

Finding friends

It’s an odd thing really, to group together with your competitors to engage in promotion – but one of the things I find so lovely about the beading world is how incredibly friendly and helpful other beaders are.  Maybe it’s because like many crafters and artists we tend to work alone, or maybe it’s because most people don’t really understand what we do so we are just really happy to find other people who do, but as a lone beader I have really benefitted from mentions by others, and have really enjoyed interacting albeit virtually with beaders from around the world.  The image above of my version of Jean Power’s ‘Geometric Stars’ got me noticed by Folksy and and led to me being featured shop there last year – and the support and beady friendship Jean’s given me since then has transferred into real sales as well as being a great boost to my confidence, and other beaders big and small have bought and shared and just generally been really nice.  In the so-called ‘real world’ – by which I guess I mean the world of big businesses (which I work in 3 days a week!), this degree of collaboration is almost unheard of – perhaps MDs are members of the same business association, or attend the same awards ceremonies, but they would never, ever recommend or highlight the work of a direct competitor, much less go out of their way to help & encourage them.  I should stress here that I don’t think of myself as in direct competition with Jean, she is a beading megastar and I a tiny size 15 charlotte minnow………

So it’s with a degree of joy in the way that my fellow beaders work together to promote the craft they love, regardless of commercial considerations, that I’ve applied to and been accepted by the Etsy Beadweavers Team.  They are a lovely group of beaders who quietly promote each other’s work through their blog, facebook and on Etsy itself.  They have strict criteria for joining, which I will have to keep on my toes to fulfill, but this enables them to be confident that members will contribute and enhance the group.  And they even have monthly challenges, where members make and list for sale items inspired by a theme, which are then promoted and voted on by the team and public, which will be a useful push to create some exciting, original work and is always very diverse and interesting.  I’ve missed the boat time wise for the next challenge which is a real blow as it is ‘inspired by Chihully’ – an all time favourite artist ever since he exhibited at Kew Gardens when I was living round the corner, but I can’t wait to see what my new ‘colleagues’ will come up with……..

So, if you’d like to see what they all get up to pop over to their blog, or search ‘EBW team‘ (for finished beadwork) or ‘EBW team tutorial‘ (for kits and tutorials) on Etsy.  Or even better ‘like’ the team’s Facebook page and you’ll be gently fed beautiful, unusual and downright fab pieces to wash away the annoyance of endless cat videos and adverts.

Adapting

I’ve been making another Fortuneteller, but this time with size 10 delicas.  I used my previous one as a template, measuring the various distances as I beaded along and at first it went well.  However, as it grew it became clear that the bigger beads meant that the thickness of the MRAW band made the inner layer significantly smaller than the original, and finishing the joins between the small horns was definitely going to make it unwearable by me at least.  So rather than hoping for a tiny handed customer, or giving it to one of the boys (boy 2 is very keen on bangles) I’ve made it into a rather splendid bowl and I like it.  Which is just as well…………

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Recipe

  • Size 10 delicas in three shades of red, one orange and silver, 26g in total.
  • Size 3.4 drop beads.

Tips

  • Unless you actually want to make a bowl, I’d suggest a starter MRAW band which contains six repeated ‘Vs’ with 9 units on each side of the V (not the 8 units I used).
  • To get the colour effect I used, start the MRAW band with the silver, using one of the reds as the fill bead.  Add a drop bead as one of the inner beads on any increases or decreases (you may want to miss them on the decreases – I chose to leave them in as I like the look of the drop nestling in the V.  Then change red/orange every row.  As you approach the horns, start adding the odd silver in, then more each row until you are just using silver.  I chose a random pattern, mirrored on each pair of horns, but kept it identical for each round so that the graduation was even across all the horns.  Then gently fade the reds back in, and finally as you approach the final tips work the silver back in again.
  • Size 10 delicas are still quite hard to get hold of in the UK.  Stitch n Craft are expanding their range gradually, and as usual offer probably the most competitive pricing (assuming you spend enough to qualify for free postage, which I never fail to do), although their colour range is still quite limited.  Charisma have a good range of colours, as do Fine Lines.
  • Finally, with this kind of work, especially with larger beads, you really can’t make any mistakes as they will be very obvious on the finished piece.  I made quite a few as I was very tired, and the lovely push pin and eraser combo I was sent by the lovely Jean Power with my copy of Geometric Beadwork 1 was worked quite hard.  I can’t remember having to break out this many beads for ages.

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Other than my general incompetence it worked really well with the size 10s, and in many ways it’s the best use of these for geometric beadwork that I’ve tried before.  I will have a go at an actual bangle once I’ve got all the other things on my beading list moving along.

Kissing Piggies

The boys have a picture book filled with photos of pigs.  Piggies sleeping, piggies leaping, piggies guzzling, piggies nuzzling, and piggies kissing.  So when I finished my new bezel, which surrounds a luna soft cabochon with facing pairs of two hole ‘Piggy’ beads, no other name would do.  The bezel came about because at the last Big Bead Show I found myself ambling around with nothing to buy – it’s more of a stringer’s fair than a beadweavers, and although there are some great teeny bead suppliers in between the big bead stands, I wasn’t really seeing anything new.  So I started looking at all of the new bead shapes which I had hitherto resisted – the two holes, the funny dragon scales, rullas & pellets, and I picked up a pack or two of each, (discovering along the way a new supplier, The Old Bicycle Shop, who I can heartily recommend for their interesting selection, £1 postage and quick delivery).  Then they sat in my stash for a few months whilst I dealt with going back to work, Christmas, and sickly children.

Kissing Piggies - Copper - Sarah Cryer Beadwork
Kissing Piggies – Copper – Sarah Cryer Beadwork

Finally a couple of weeks ago I dug out the piggies, some superduos and a lunasoft cab and made myself keep trying until I came up with a decent design.  I’m pleased with the finished design, it’s nice and simple and should be suitable for beginners who’ve tried a bit of RAW and peyote and have tension sorted.  That said, it took a fair few attempts and a good many failures to get to something that would work as a tutorial (or work at all), so banning myself from doing anything else until I had mastered it was definitely necessary!  I had the picture in my mind of the snuggling pairs from the beginning, so started from the outside and worked in – I can safely say that this does not work as a method, it was only once I gave up on that and designed a bezel that would have space for the piggies that things came together (although arguably without trying the outside in approach first I wouldn’t have known how much space to allow…..)

Eventually with the help of an MRAW starter (thank you again Contemporary Geometric Beadwork beaders – Jenny Sangster explains it very nicely on her blog)I mastered it, and it’s finished, written up & checked.  As usual I’ve stuck with diagrams rather than just photos (as I find it’s worth the time to draw the diagrams to ensure that everything is absolutely clear, and it helps me check my placements and thread paths as I draw them), and every step is also written out.

Kissing Piggies - Jet Azurro - Sarah Cryer Beadwork
Kissing Piggies – Jet Azurro – Sarah Cryer Beadwork

So anyhow, it’s available now as a tutorial – instant download from PayHip & Etsy, and e-mailed from Folksy, all at £6.  And in a fit of extraordinary organisation, I even have materials packs ready to rock and roll from Folksy and Etsy at £10 (UK only, sorry but I can’t get to the Post Office for overseas posting at the moment, and I think you’d find it uneconomic for a £10 pack anyway).  It beads up in around an hour, and uses nothing smaller than an 11 (and only three rows of them) so nice and relaxing.  Stick Sewing Bee on the telly and get beading!

Kissing Piggies - Sarah Cryer Beadwork
Kissing Piggies – Sarah Cryer Beadwork

Sparkly mistakes

Before Christmas I beaded another project from Beadwork Evolution – ‘Stars We Are’ earrings. I wore them a couple of times (sadly dangly earrings don’t get worn much when there is a toddler in the house), but it was only when I laid them out to photograph them at the weekend that I realised I’d messed up!

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Have you spotted it? To give you a clue it’s my old problem with hexagons versus pentagons…….

So I am pleased to report that this design can be adapted to form a five sided star at the base rather than six. Ideally though one should adapt both earrings, not just one!

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Recipe

  • Sabine Lippert’s Bead Evolution p102
  • Swarovski 3mm bicones in Light Siam; Fuchsia AB, Fuschia & Violet, Bonarski Bicones in Purple Metallic & Blue Metallic
  • Miyuki size 15 seeds in Black AB matte 401FR

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Tips

  • Sabine uses two colours of crystals.  I couldn’t choose just two, so I used six and ran from red with a contrasting centre of metallic blue, through pink to purple.  I like hers, and I like mine too.
  • Pay attention – the way the stars are joined and constructed is very elegant in it’s simplicity, but it took a few repeats to get the hang of it as it is not obvious.  And clearly check how many repeats you have put in each unit……..

Verdict

Really lovely, nice to make and fabulous to wear.  It took under an hour per earring, probably less for a second go, so I’m definitely going to make again in some other colours.  I’ve got some lovely opaque bicones which might make a less blingy version for the daytime as well.

 

 

Bubblelicious

When I started this blog I made a few rules for myself.  One of them was to try to use photos taken on my phone, so that I was just capturing the work I’d done without having to set up for ‘proper’ photography.  In my shops  all the photos have been taken ‘properly’ as I think it’s important for customers to get the best possible reproduction of what they are buying, and I want to be able to show levels of detail only possible with a macro lens.  When I take the ‘proper’ photos I use our digital SLR, macro lens and big sheets of white or black mounting board propped up in our front room window – the translucent window film which stops the neighbours seeing the mess inside gives a lovely diffuse natural light.  For the blog I want more spontaneity, and definitely don’t want to wait weeks for that elusive couple of hours with no little people.  When I take photos for the blog or Facebook it’s usually with my iPhone, against whatever plain background I can find and with the closest to natural light I can get – I’m after speed rather than fabulous quality, but so far I’ve been really impressed with the photos I’ve taken.  Last year I particularly enjoyed being able to shoot my Fortuneteller on the lovely slate tiles in our back garden,  with nasturtiums behind. However, in the depths of winter, I’ve really struggled – so although I finished my Bubble Ball before the New Year, I’ve only now had the time to get the big camera out and take some pictures for you.

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The Bubble is another piece from Sabine Lippert’s new book ‘Beadwork Evolution’ and it was the piece I wanted to make the most when the book arrived.  I only had the twelve chatons required in a couple of colours, and although I thought I had lots of drops, only one set matched, so I’ve ended up with a combination which makes the finished ball look quite different to Sabine’s.  Black, though versatile isn’t a favourite colour for beading, and it is tricky to photograph.  That said, I still love it, and the drops I used are just stunning and I think they really make the piece even though it’s not as bubbly as Sabine’s.

Recipe

  • Sabine Lippert’s Beadwork Evolution – page 133
  • Chatons & Bicones – Swarovski Fuchsia
  • Drops – Hybrid Jet Sliperit – from Beads of Bohemia via Etsy
  • Seeds – Black Miyuki
  • Fire polished – Black Czech

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Tips & Lessons learnt

  • Watch your tension – as usual with Sabine’s stuff you need to stay nice and loose.  Which is the opposite of my normal tension……….
  • It does turn into a bit of a needle bender towards the end so be prepared with a good light and some tweezers.  And perhaps don’t use your very best needles?
  • I kept forgetting to do step 4 again and again. Don’t do that.
  • Whilst the sliperit drops are incredible, I paired them with black beads as that seemed best.  And I normally avoid black beads like the plague – they hurt your eyes and a pig to photograph.  They also mean that a lot of the detail of the construction is lost and I think that’s a shame.
  • Because I couldn’t tell how much the Fire Polished beads in the core would be seen I opted for black there as well, and although the finished piece is very wearable it might pop a bit better with some contrast – perhaps a copper core or even perhaps a black core with copper seeds?
  • Sabine again matches the chaton and crystal colours – I think that works really well, but would like to see what happens to the shapes with an alternative (particularly if I used a lighter chaton colour than the crystals).
  • It took me about four hours to finish (including a lot of colour faffing) – I’d expect to be quicker next time, so would fit into a few evenings nicely.
  • For my next version Stitch N Craft have some of the drops in Crystal Sliperit, and as I also have some Piggy Beads in the same colour waiting to be used I think I might get some for another version, as the crystal will be more ‘bubbly’.  Not sure what colour chaton to use with them though, so can’t quite work through all the beads needed…….
  • Or I ought to really try it with the translucent drops Sabine used – I’ve done an order since I made this so I have some more ‘bubbly’ ones in my stash now.
  • Either way this seems to be very much like a design I’ll make lots of versions of, so you’ll be seeing it again soon!

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Tiles on a Ring Pendant

Well the book arrived two days ago and I got stuck straight in. Luckily I have a good stock of chatons, because this book is going to munch them up. For choice I would have made the Bubble Ball Pendant first because it’s my favourite, but I had the right beads for Tiles on a Ring so I dived in. It went together beautifully – Sabine’s designs are always so simple, whilst looking amazingly flamboyant. Around three hours in total, so an excellent weekend project.  It uses a RAW base with a 3D netted embellishment to form the cups and frames for the chatons, and I’d say it’s suitable for intermediates.

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Recipe

Sabine Lippert’s Beadwork Evolution p99
Seeds in 401FR Matte Black AB 11 and 15
Matte purple iris fire polished
Fuschia Swarovski bicones and chatons

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Tips
I got the colours wrong – the fire polished beads are too different in colours from the seeds, and because the seeds and the firepolisheds are next to each other rather than used together it makes the firepolished ring look a bit disconnected. A shiny finish might have worked, or blue iris to match the seeds. This is a shame as I’d chosen the combination to go with the Baroque Dimensional Bracelet I made a while back.

Use the same colour of bicones and chatons – that will give you lovely squares of bling, and you’ll loose those squares if you don’t match them.

As with all of Sabine’s pieces a relaxed tension really helps – I have to make the effort to remember this one!