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.

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The Sting

I’ve been working really hard on a competition piece recently, and after a month’s solid discipline I fell of the wagon last week and wandered off into other beading.  I’m sure the break will be good for me, but none of the other beading really worked and that made me rather antsy.  When this happens, there are two options – have a night off beading, or do something which can’t fail.  I didn’t want a night off, so I turned to my stash of digital patterns to find something by a designer who never lets me down – Sabine Lippert.  Just before Christmas she had a pattern sale, so I had a little splurge on a few patterns, including her pendant ‘Sting’.  This looked like something which would be achievable in an evening or two, so I pulled some beads and got going.

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It was a good decision – as always with Sabine’s designs this piece went together very nicely.  It took around 3.5 hours – I’m used to Sabine’s designs so can usually work them up quite quickly, and I found this one pretty easy, with everything just slotting together perfectly for a contented evening’s beading.  It’s given me my beading mojo back, and with some child free time off the day job coming up, I feel refreshed and ready to get some of those long awaited tutorials finished and launched soon.

Recipe

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  • 15 seed – Miyuki Duracoat Cranberry 4211
  • 11 seed – Miyuki Matte Silver Grey 2012
  • SuperDuo – Jet Gunmetal Pearl
  • Delica – Miyuki Matte Pewter 321
  • 3mm Crystals – Swarovski Paparadscha AB2 (slightly hard to find colour in 3mm – I got mine at a show from Gemstone Boutique)
  • Spikes – Dark Bronze.  I have no idea where they came from!
  • 3mm Round – I didn’t have any in the right colour, so I used some Saturated Fuchsia firepolisheds from Robin’s Beads, which worked well.
  • 6mm Round – I used an orange FP, this can’t really be seen so you just need something that tones in.
  • 14mm Rivoli – Chinese (not as fine a finish as Swarovski or Preciosa, so they don’t work with a tighter bezel, but a fantastic colour which neither of them offer and worked for this project – from the Southampton Bead Shop)

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The ribbon (I know it needs a press, it’s been lurking in my stash for ages) was hand dyed by Stef Francis, a fantastic space dyer who I came across in my sewing days.

Tips

I usually find my tension too tight for Sabine’s pieces, because of the 3D embellishments and layering.  So I relaxed things a bit, but unfortunately I shouldn’t have done as this is one which requires stiff tension to create a solid rod of peyote, so it came out a bit floppy.  However, I have stuck a head pin down the middle and it’s fine!

Sabine does warn you about this in the blurb on her site, but not in the pattern.  Because I’d bought the pattern a while ago, I’d forgotten what the blurb said, but to be honest a beader of my experience should know that if you want to make a peyote tube rigid you’ve got to do some pretty solid stitching, and use a suitable thread – Sabine recommends Fireline explicitly in the materials list (which should have been another clue) but I’ve gone off it a bit, so I used KO which is clearly not going to give the same rigidity.  So entirely my fault, but a useful learning experience (just when you think you have things sussed…..), and it still looks fine.  If I make this design again, which I probably will, I might perhaps stick a cocktail stick down the middle for extra stiffness anyway (the head pin I used is after all flexible).

Sting - Sabine Lippert - beaded by Sarah Cryer

Colours

One of my resolutions this year is to include more neutral colours in my beadwork – I have a tendency to chuck colour at things, which sometimes gives me an amazing looking piece which is completely unwearable.  I try to avoid beading with black as it’s hard work, and anyway I wear a lot of navy blue rather than black, so I’ve been using a lot of 401FR and similar to give me a navy base.  I’m also getting really into pewter, and other matte, mid greys, as they work well with the etched beads I’m currently obsessed with, so for this piece I chose a selection of those tones for the base beads, and variations on a dark salmon pink for the main colour.  I toyed with a few different spikes (which you can see in the materials picture), but in the end the dark metallic chocolate worked best. This was going against my instincts, which were to pick out the fuschia and orange of the stone, and maybe chuck in some zest, but I think it’s worked well and given me a striking but wearable piece, proving that this is a good resolution!

Conclusion

A lovely piece, well worth buying and trying.  Rock hard tension and the correct thread would have helped keep the main shaft rigid, so always read the instructions.  I’m going to get back to my own work for now, but next time I need a break I’ve got Sabine’s Toggle Ring tutorial to try.

 

 

 

Wings……

I’ve finished my latest Contemporary Geometric Beadwork influenced piece – a large pointy bangle.  The idea with this piece was to work with the ideas from CGB, but for the first time to ignore their finished pieces and patterns and see where I ended up.   I also wanted to work with a tube of sweepings from Stitch & Craft, to free myself up from the hours I tend to spend selecting colours!

  
I started with a MRAW band which I thought would be roughly the right size for a bangle (I was wrong – it was huge), then added some increases and decreases to form a zig zag.  I beaded that for a while, then added some increases halfway along each side to start to form peaks which I thought I could join together to start to shrink the piece down and make it human (rather than elephant sized)!  I planned to add some crystals to join the peaks together, but when I tried it they didn’t work, and left the piece a bit too wobbly.  After some unpicking I decided to stick to delicas, joined the peaks and beaded across either side of the join to make continuous lines and curves, surrounding the whole piece with a dark magenta metallic outline.

  
At that point I decided the original MRAW band wasn’t sitting correctly – the alternating zigs and zags meant that it needed to point in different directions so I couldn’t turn it into a CGB skirt to firm up the shape and make it smaller.  So that got unpicked from the inside out, and I added a couple of rows of peyote in fuchsia metallics, and the decreases sorted the sizing out.

  
So it’s all done, and available in my Etsy shop.  It’s also my entry for the Etsy Beadweavers Team October Challenge – ‘Abstract Painting’.  If you’ve got a moment pop over to our blog and have a look at the other entries (or search ‘EBWC’ on Etsy).  And if you could take a few seconds to vote for your favourite we’d really appreciate it.

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.

Bye bye baby

Normally I’m pleased when I sell something, but to be honest I felt quite sad this week when a lovely customer bought my favourite Heliotrope Cocktail Ring.  When I made it I thought hard about listing it, as it is very me, but given that I never get to wear most of the things I make for myself (and I was on maternity leave at the time, so even less likely to wear it) I photographed and listed it on Folksy.  The form is a simple one – three peyote circles – two forming exaggerated ring bands and the third bezelling a big vintage Swarovski flat back from Robin’s Beads.  The colour of the crystal is totally fab (deep blue with turquoise and magenta highlights) and it’s a discontinued finish, so hard to get at all let alone a nice big one like this.  Hopefully Robin’s Beads will have some more crystals left, as now it is gone I can’t help wanting another one for myself…….

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…………

Beady treat

yum yum
yum yum

A lovely surprise as I left the house earlier – the postman with Jean Power’s second Geometric Beadwork book. Her’s were the first project tutorials I bought when I started beading, and I’m still using many of them quite a few years later. The new book builds on the first and on those tutorials, but also includes some interesting variations – added fire polished or tilas for example. Even better, those and some others use size 10 rather than 11 delicas, so will be nice and quick to work up. Although I may need to do a little cheeky shopping………