International Beading Week

International Beading Week starts tomorrow (24th July) and runs until August 1st, and as a Guest Ambassador, member of the Beadworker’s Guild Social Media Team and all around IBW fan I’ve been busy getting ready.

As you know I’ve donated a chart which you can find on the IBW site or in my Free Charts section, and from 25th July until 1st August I will be offering 20% off all tutorials in my Etsy shop (no code needed, tutorials only, please note that this doesn’t start until tomorrow – 24th July).

I should say now that we’ll be taking a much needed holiday though for bulk of the week, so I’ll be closing my shops for everything other than those digital download tutorials (which run happily without me needing to post stuff), but fret not, the beads, cabochons, crystals and goldwork wires will be back on August 9th. During that time I will still be beading, as it’s time for Jean Power’s Secret Beadalong, so watch my social media to see how I’m getting on.

Whilst you’re there, why not join the IBW Facebook group, or have a look at the IBW Facebook Page and the lovely Beadworker’s Guild Instagram account and see what we’ve been working so hard on behind the scenes. This year we have a theme for International Beading Week (IBW) to celebrate the positive mental health impacts that beading has with the tagline: ‘HANGING IN THERE’. We will have daily prompts to help you get involved on social media and throughout the week we will be sharing tips, ideas, free patterns and beaders’ stories on our channels – and we would love to read your stories too!

Please help us spread the word about beading by tagging the Beadworkers Guild in all of your social media posts and use the hashtag #beadingweek.

International Beading Week

As part of the IBW social media team  for several years it’s lovely to be able to show my support as a designer as well by becoming an IBW Ambassador. Beading along with others is such a pleasure, whether it’s done in person or remotely, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results all of the events and activities the IBW/Beadworker’s Guild team work so hard behind the scenes to prepare for you every year.    This year’s International Beading Week runs from July 24th – August 1st, and as well as working away with my lovely colleagues on the Guild’s Social Media team I’ll of course be beading along with the wonderful annual Jean Power Summer Secret Beadalong.

As an Ambassador I’m proud to donate a design (or two or hopefully when I have time, three) to the event – here is the first one, a charted brick stitch and fringe piece which is available as a free PDF here. It’s also available via the IBW section of the Beadworker’s Guild website alongside many other wonderful free patterns from other Ambassadors and Beaders – have a look at the amazing selection.

This piece can be adapted to change the length, colours or overall use but at its’ core is the 12 colour spectrum of the IBW logo and a rainbow. The rainbow has come to mean a lot symbolically in the UK over the last year or so, so seemed an appropriate choice, although making curves out of things which want to run straight was a challenge – quite a few rejected versions here:

It’s also worth saying that this chart was created with Beadographer, which is a wonderful new chart/design tool. Prior to starting using this I’d never really got on with charted designs because I found the planning process inhibiting creatively. However I’m sure you can see from my recent work that Beadographer has allowed me to overcome that bias and I’m now embracing charting with the tool on my laptop (or even better on my iPad with an Apple Pencil) as an alternative way of creating with beads, so thank you to Leah and William for a super, very easy to use creative tool.

Back to Nature

I’m please to be able to introduce ‘Back to Nature’, my entry in the ‘Previous Winner’s class of the Beadworkers Guild Annual Challenge 2020/21, and very happy to say that once again, I won.

The theme this year was ‘Save the Planet – Bead it Don’t Bin It’ and this was my Artist’s statement (which we send with our entries and is the only context we can supply to the judges):

‘Inspired by the layers and structure of soil profiles, this box explores the idea of nature taking over again, burying mankind’s waste and rubbish under layers of soil, moss and lichens.  Salvaged circuit boards surrounded by the digital bytes of beadwoven delicas, are slowly being covered by layers of soil –  beads, threads, pearls, reclaimed watch parts and recycled sequins. On the surface, embroidered and beaded mosses are cut through by Kintsugi repairs of bent and damaged scraps of leftover goldwork wires.  Bursting down into the soil below,  the gold brings new life and destroys what we’ve left behind. ‘ 

That’s the ‘public’ face of the piece, in reality it’s simply a really lovely embroidered fully hand made box, made by me over several months using only items from my stash, waste from my shop and household computer and packaging waste, and just about every technique I knew, could learn or could make up. I’ll try and get a blog post together in the next couple of days to tell you a little more here about how it came about.

Johnson Solids Project

Last year the wonderful geometric beader Diane Fitzgerald began a community project called ‘The Johnson Solids Project’. It was a call to beaders internationally to join in making the 92 Johnson Solids out of flat peyote shapes.

Hexagons and triangles

Johnson Solids are three-dimensional shapes assembled from triangles,
squares, pentagons, hexagons, octagons and decagons. You can read more about them here. As beaders we’re used to working with their cousins, the Platonic solids, and sometimes also the Archimedean solids, but expanding into the Johnson solids gives us some great new shapes to work with.

I wasn’t quick enough off the mark to get in on Diane’s first series, so when Sylvia Fairhurst and Patricia Verrier started a UK version I applied as quickly as I could, and was able to choose number 48, a ‘ Gyroelongated pentagonal birotunda‘. I chose this one because I wanted to challenge myself with one of the larger solids, but fancied trying one which resembled a shape I might want to remake – this one is kind of an egg shape. It’s also made of just triangles and pentagons and they’re two nice simple shapes to make in peyote.

As with the original project the organisers specified that we should all use a set delica colour (22L) which is a bronze lustre for our increases -this gave me a bit of a challenge because it didn’t really work with my normal bright palettes, but I had a lot of creams and shell colours out to work on my sea pieces last year, so pulled a pale peach and a cream to use for the rest of each of the two shapes I’d need to make, which looked lovely next to the bronze and got making.

Triangles in progress….

We all used Diane’s standard flat shapes (which are available from her Etsy shop, or if you can get it they are all found in her seminal book, Shaped Beadwork). My shape needed 40 triangles and 12 pentagons, and I chose to assemble the net as I worked (so each piece was attached in place before the next was made) – this was largely because I hate having stacks of components with loose threads waiting to be attached together, and it also helped me to ensure that I added the correct extra join beads – it’s much easier to spot errors in those if you’re joining as you go. If I’d been making this for myself I’d also have formed the overall shape as I worked, but because we wanted to have a collection of images of the flat nets before assembly, I made the net, which was actually nice as it gives a lovely view of the structure of the shape.

Johnson Solid No.48 – Net

So here it is – I finished it in plenty of time and sent it off to Sylvia last summer – the deadline was January 2021 so hopefully soon we’ll see the UK results. The last picture Sylvia posted of the collection so far looked amazing, and the images of the full string Diane has made of the US/International version are incredible.

If you’d like to learn more about the project there is a public Facebook group here.

Jelly

Last summer I made a series of sea creatures – beginning with a bead embroidered pink and yellow jellyfish done as a stitch and material sampler. She was a bit big and slightly clumsy, so she was called Big Jelly.

The next piece was Squidy, who mixes bead embroidery, bead weaving and goldwork embroidery techniques. I published Squidy as a tutorial last year, and also sell component packs for him (which include Hope Jacare‘s lovely ribbons and the other non-beady elements). You can read about him here.

Finally I made Jelly, a simplified piece using just one goldwork and a few bead embroidery stitches – simplified because I knew she was going to go off to the Beadworkers Guild as a journal tutorial. So that meant I had to keep her under wraps for quite a long time!

Last week the Journal was published and here she is. She looks lovely on the cover, particularly in her second colourway of blues and fuchsia, and it’s great to make a contribution to the Guild and to one of the most popular beadworking publications.

If you’re interested in the Journal it forms part of the membership benefits of joining the Guild, and is available internationally.

If you’re already a member and wanting to try making Jelly, then I have the Pearl Purl available in my Etsy shop, and Clare at Hope Jacare has just listed yet more beautiful ribbons, net tape and other hand dyed loveliness. Have fun!

Squidy

Squidy is my younger son’s favourite cuddly toy – the one he needs at night and takes with him on long car journeys, so when an oval cabochon and some rumpled hand dyed silk ribbons came together to make a squid pendant, what on earth else could I possibly call it?

Squidy uses a variety of bead embroidery, beadweaving and goldwork embroidery techniques, including back stitch, bezelling using circular peyote, seeding, right angle weave bezelling, goldwork and beaded edging to make a statement pendant, brooch or even a beautiful ornament. I’ve written him up as a detailed tutorial because frankly he seemed too much fun not to share, and it’s now available in my Etsy shop.

He’s not horrifically tricky if you’re patient, he’d suit intermediate bead weavers or bead embroiderers, or experienced embroiderers looking to learn some beadweaving techniques. Everything is stepped out in the tutorial, and there is a full techniques section with hints and tips which should set you up well to try out some of these techniques on your own designs.

The materials are probably slightly tricky to get hold of, so I’ve put together some component packs – you can select your own individual cabochon, and the packs also include the goldwork wires, hand dyed ribbons (from HopeJacre designs), Swarovski chatons, beading foundation (Nicole’s Bead Backing), and Ultrasuede. These packs don’t include beads as you need such tiny quantities it’s not worth me weighing them and packing them up – you can just add them in from your own stash and make a unique piece. They’re available in my Etsy shop (which has 10% off until the end of December 2019).

I really enjoyed making Squidy, and he now also has some other sea creature friends which I can’t tell you about just yet – I’m working my way through lots of lovely ribbons to make as many tentacled creatures as I can and it’s really, really fun!

Heather Kingsley-Heath – Fantasie

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to spend a weekend with the Beadworker’s Guild for their Great British Bead Show. I had a wonderful time, finally getting to meet people I’ve known electronically for a while, and getting to know even more lovely beaders. I took two one day classes, the first with Jean Power, which I’ll post about shortly, and the second with Heather Kingsley Heath, in which I made her beautiful Fantasie pendant.

I’ve admired Heather’s work for a while and own several of her books and patterns, and this was a lovely chance to work with her in person. This is a great piece to bead, and I was especially pleased with my colour choices – the new Swarovski Crystal Delite finish in Burgundy, and the dark and light blue shades of Swarovski Iridescent Pearls. I matched them with my usual Miyuki Duracoat silver, some matte dark blue (2075) and my new favourite Fuchsia Luster (1465L). I chose the pearls to match the blue sparkles from the Delite finish, and I must say I’m really pleased with the combination.

Fantasie, Heather Kingsley Heather, beaded by Sarah Cryer

I finished the pendant quite quickly after the class, and couldn’t even wait long enough to finish the complimentary beaded chain to wear it, so it’s currently hanging from my usual hand dyed silk cord. I hope to make the chain one day, but for now I do find the cords easy to wear as I can adjust easily from my ideal longer length back to a shorter hang to accomodate my horrible work lanyard and ID badge! This is a common colour palette for me to wear, so it’s had lots of use already.

If you’d like to learn more about the Great British Bead Show and the Beadworker’s Guild you can visit our website. And to learn more about Heather’s beautiful and inspiring work, visit her ‘Heatherworks‘ sites. I bought some more patterns from her in class, so you can expect to see some more of her designs here soon!

Cellini Rick Rack Ninja Star

I’ve just published my Cellini Rick Rack Ninja Star (or Ninja Star for short) in my Etsy shop, and I thought you might be interested to hear about how it came about. This is an extract from the tutorial which you can buy here.

On holiday during Easter 2019, I took a set of seed beads in various sizes to work on my Cellini, and another set of delicas to join in with a CGB beadalong.  The CGB beadalong explored casting pods and spines, and as I beaded that I was also thinking about previous experiments with Cath’s diagonal Cellini, and pieces I’d made from Gwen Fisher’s tutorials.

It didn’t take long for me to wonder what would happen if I combined the two – so I took the bracelet I was making which had been cast off a CGB casting pod, and started to Cellini a strip with rick rack increases and decreases and corresponding Cellini reversals.  It worked, and started making nice shapes which seemed to have potential, so I cast off another from the Cellini strip – this time tubular rather than a strip. That made a pleasing shape which seemed to want to be a star, so I added a second layer, joined the points together, and the Cellini Rick Rack Ninja Star was born. Several versions later I’ve tweaked, un-tweaked and re-tweaked the method and thread path to make it efficient to bead, and here it is.

If you’d like to learn more about any of these techniques, and maybe experiment yourselves, then I’d recommend the following:

  • Jean Power’s book Geometric Beadwork, which covers Rick Racks in detail.  

jeanpower.com

  • Kate McKinnon and the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork movement’s books and blog, which use similar techniques, and will take you through new starting techniques.  If you’re already familiar with these you can find alternative start instructions for use with either casting pods or spines in this tutorial.

contemporarygeometricbeadwork

Cath Thomas’s work on Cellini Peyote, especially her Dimensional Cellini series, which also merges Rick Rack and Cellini, and which Cath kindly directed me to whilst I was finishing this design.

https://caththomasdesigns.indiemade.com/

  • Gwen Fisher’s mathematical Cellini explorations and tutorials.

Gwenbeads

  • And Cath’s Cellini Peyote Freaks Facebook group, where you’ll find lots of Cellini inspiration, materials and support (I should declare an interest as part of the admin team).  Simply search for ‘Cellini Peyote’ on Facebook.

Fresh cabochons

I’ve had a big push this weekend to finish, photograph and list all of the cabochons I have made, to clear space for the next batch.

They’re largely from three pouring sessions – the first working with reds and oranges, and for half of the batch, opaque salmon pink; and the second and third working with a cream base and trying a variety of different colours to complement the cream. These were poured quite recently to make a custom cab for an old school friend’s up-coming wedding. Her piece is under wraps for now, but I’ve begun another bridal piece with cabs from the batch, and you can see cabs from the brighter batch in some of my other finished work, such as my Autumn necklace.

All of the batches are available in my Etsy shop, grouped into listings based on the colours and techniques used. There is one set which is too perfectly matched to break up, and the rest are all available in singles as part of my 5 for 4 discount offer. Click on the images to go straight to the listings on Etsy.

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.