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!

 

And another one……

Since I had the pliers out yesterday I finally got round to adding a clasp to a Sabine Lippert piece I finished beading a while back.  It’s a Baroque Dimensional Bracelet and  instructions are available for download from her website, and the simplicity and repetition made it a really lovely piece to make – but of course as with all Sabine’s pieces it looks absolutely amazing.  It curves beautifully – both around the wrist and across the width of the piece, making it seem lovely and fat and chunky.  Very pleased with this one.

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Recipe

Fire polished beads 4mm  Matte purple iris (from Etsy More Beads4U)

Fire polished beads 3mm Purple iris (from Robins Beads)

3.4mm drop beads Miyuki 401FR Black Matte AB (from Stitch N Craft)

Size 11 & Size 15 seed beads Miyuki 401FR Black Matte AB (from Stitch N Craft)

Fireline 6lb

Silver magnetic clasp, jump rings.

The Miyuki Black Matte AB are a current favourite as they are a kind of navy blue base, and I’ve not been able to find another good match for navy.  For some reason I am wearing a lot of navy at the moment and it is certainly easier to work with than straight black.

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Tips

  • I did 30 repeats as per the instructions, and it fits very nicely.  The finished beadwork measures 20cm (without the clasps) although do bear in mind I am quite a tense beader.
  • On that note, relax, relax, relax your tension, particularly for the base layer.  For me that means beading in a way which felt baggy, floppy and downright messy, but you need plenty of give in order to add the embellishing layers.  This is common with embellished RAW pieces.
  • Otherwise as usual Sabine tells you everything you need to know……..

Next steps

Another good relaxing project, like the Faux Cro, I’m definitely going to make another one of these when I have assembled enough Fire Polished beads (it does use quite a lot).  Perhaps this time I’ll go a bit wilder with the colours (I’m thinking some sort of outrageous red, pink and orange with lime highlights again).  Or perhaps something bright but wearable instead.

And I’ve got the pattern for Sabine’s Tweed bracelet to do as well yummy yummy.  Sabine has also put together some beautiful kits, and one day I will definitely treat myself……..

 

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A quick comment about ordering from abroad before I get told off for listing MoreBeads4U:    I usually try to stick with local suppliers – although sadly I don’t have any ‘normal’ bead shops selling teeny beads locally, I use UK mail order shops where possible (mainly Stitch N Craft and Robins Beads).  However wonderful they are though, it isn’t possible for them to stock absolutely everything I need, and I have now found (through Etsy) a super supplier in Latvia for Czech beads (links above) – reasonable and prompt postage, and pretty much every colour and size of fire-polished beads I could want, competitively priced.  So while I continue to use and support my lovely UK suppliers when they sell the colours and shapes I need, and will always look here first, I do sometimes have to go elsewhere.  I don’t take this lightly, as shops like Stitch N Craft are so wonderful for the beading community – their class programme is probably the best in the world, they are very supportive of the Beadworkers Guild and bead groups and their range is absolutely wonderful.  So their website will always be the first one I go to so that I can support them in return.

Of course one day I will open my own bead shop, sell everything I want and consequently go bankrupt in a year.  But it will be fun.

 

Faux cro rocks!

For several years I have been eying up the photos on Jean Power’s website of her ‘faux bead crochet’ bangles. Now I love the appearance of bead crochet, but I’ve had several goes at doing it which have always ended in tangles, uneven work and tears. I’m sure it’s lovely and quick once you are expert, but for me it is incredibly slow, and combined with the absolute tedium of threading all the beads on before you even start I feel it’s not for me. However it does make the most beautiful beaded ropes, so a fake version using beadweaving techniques I’m familiar with seemed worth a try. Staring at Jean’s photos repeatedly over many years sadly did not reveal her secret, and though Jean has been teaching it as a workshop I’ve never been able to go. So when her recent newsletter announced she’d released a tutorial I grabbed one straight away (the joys of instant downloads). Reading through revealed I had been a numpty, as her solution is elegantly simple, but there is much in the tutorial that I would never have worked out even after years of playing, particularly the joins, so it was well worth the money to skip the experimentation and go straight to a very refined solution. All I need now Jean is to work out how to split the rope into two or three so I can do branches please?

Anyway I’ve made so many bangles lately that I thought I would instead make something more like a lariat, but I ran out of beads (poor planning) so I’ve made a short rope with increases at either end to form frilly cones (a la CGB 1 although using Jean’s stitch with increases, not their technique as it didn’t really work for me).  I then threaded a wire through the middle so the piece can be sculpted into a choker, bracelet, whatever. The simplicity of the design and technique made it a very relaxing, stress busting kind of piece to make, so I think I will be using this technique again soon.

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Recipe

  • 20g of red striped frosted crystal size 8 seed beads – mine were from Beadworks
  • 1g of opaque scarlet miyuki size 8 seed beads – 407 from the Bead Merchant
  • Red miyuki KO thread
  • 65cm 1mm silver plated wire

Tips

  • Read the instructions all the way through. Jean explains the theory as well as giving step by step instructions so you will be better equipped to improvise and add your own touches, as well as to complete the projects she details.
  • If you are not used to the basic stitch Jean uses, do a flat square sample first so you can get your technique (particularly tension) sorted.
  • Use big beads. There are some extremely beautiful bead crochet works out there using teeny weeny beads, and this technique will undoubtedly work extremely well for those, but you need to practise first. I would definitely heed Jean’s advice and start with 8s.
  • Make sure you have enough beads as this lovely speedy technique will munch them up quite quickly – 20g made a 5 around rope (probably the thinnest you can do with size 8s) 70com long.  So I’d reckon at just under 30g for a 1m rope which would make a versatile long necklace or lariat, and you should get a bangle out of the standard 6g tube of 8s.   You can always do a sample of say 10cm and then weigh it to estimate.
  • The slightly more organic appearance of crochet or faux crochet with 8s means this is a really good way to use up those beautiful but sadly wonky and uneven seed beads you bought all those years ago before you discovered the easy uniformity of Japanese beads. And you can also use the beads you bought for kumihimo but couldn’t use because the holes were too small for the bigger working thread (although you can use thicker threads for this technique and make a feature of them if you want, just like bead crochet).
  • Wiring the piece allows me to sculpt it each time I wear it – it would look very nice with the wire poking out and drops or rizos dangling from jump rings attached to a loop at the end

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What’s next?
In theory you can use this technique for any bead crochet type piece – there are some amazing patterned ropes out there and I can’t wait to try.   Have a look at my Faux Cro Pinterest board for some ideas if you’re interested.

I’d also like to try working round a core of cord or tubing so that I can tie on and bead over some feature beads, and I will have to find some quiet time and work out how to split the rope so I can do branching designs.

Curizo

I love Sabine Lippert‘s work – the techniques she uses are incredibly clever but often simple to bead, and the results are wonderfully exuberant, beadtastic pieces.  When she created her Rizo beads a while back I bought a copy of her Curizo design so that I could use them in the way she’d intended, and I fell in love with it.  So much that I made another, and then when I needed to put something together in a hurry  for a wedding this weekend, another.  They’re quick to bead – 3-4 hours for me, and use my current bead binge favourite chatons.  And I love them, and other people love them (although the smallest boy sadly loves them so much that he bust the chain on the white one last week).

Recipe

Turquoise – Opaque turquoise rizos, opaque olive 3mm fire polished, crystal AB Swarovski chatons and 3mm bicones, silver duracoat miyuki seeds.

White – Opaque matte white rizos, opaque lime 3mm fire polished, sunflower Swarovski chatons and 3mm bicones, silver duracoat miyuki seeds.

Grey and Opal – Brown Iris Matte rizos, silver 3mm fire polished, white opal Swarovski chatons, white opal czech small teardrop beads.

Tips

I don’t have many tips for this one, it’s really very lovely to bead and works perfectly.  I quite like to thread the chain or cord through the whole finished piece (as I did with the white and lime version), although that then leaves you with quite a short piece.  For the grey and opal version and the original turquoise I’ve added a loop – the former needs to go with a specific dress with quite a low neckline, so long was the only option.

If you’d like some matching earrings like my turquoise ones, simply complete the flower shape and capture the chaton, then add a loop to hang.

Variations

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For the final version, in the step where you would add fire polished beads and crystals I simply used fire polished, and then in the final joins I put Czech drops where the fire polished would have been.  I did this because I didn’t have any 3mm bicones in the right colour (and have bought far too many beads lately so didn’t want to buy any more).  On reflection the drops don’t really go with the rizos I used, and the cube shape is more visible (the others look more like a ball which is easier to wear), so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this variation.

And next…..

Some lovely Heliotrope chatons have just arrived from the States, and I’ve got some fab neon Rizos (Robin’s Beads), and neon fire polished beads (More Beads 4 U – Etsy) – quite a flambouyant Curizo this time.

Completion

A productive few days tidying up unfinished work and trying out ideas.

The bangle is a play on a Cellini spiral using some bigger beads – over 4cm at its’ widest it is good and chunky and fun. It took rather a long time to finish, largely because I kept running out of the larger beads.  One important job (as well as photographing it properly and listing for the shop) is going to be to work out how many I actually used to avoid that problem next time.  I have a plan for something even bigger in a rainbow of opaques, a bit like the Bright Star.  Once the beads are selected the spiral stitch is very repetitive and restful, a nice change from more complex and creative work, so could be a good one for our next holiday.

The earrings are an exaggerated version of a basic brick stitch triangle with fringing – but again they are big and bold, scaled up to 12cm long.  This gave me space for lots of different shades and makes me think of a firebird.  I’ll try these again as well, like the spiral they are simple enough to be relaxing to make, but unlike it they take hours rather than months to complete.  I think a dig around in my crystal stash could give some interesting additions as well.  If only I didn’t have a small person who grabs everything he sees (glasses, hair, jewellery), then I could actually wear them……..

And finally I had another go at my ‘Saturday afternoon necklace’.  Nearly right this time so I’ll tell you all about that soon.  And I finished something else at the weekend but I honestly can’t remember what.  I’ll blame the hot weather and the four teeth the baby is cutting for the epic memory failure.

My first tutorial

Last year as part of the Stitch ‘N’ Craft Chatelaine Challenge I made a tape measure cover, and I was so pleased with it that I’ve now written it up as my very first tutorial.  My lovely sister Susie has tested it out, and my lovely husband David has helped me to make the file small enough, so it’s now available as an instant download through Etsy.  I hope shortly to get some kits listed as well.