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Sun Star Brooch

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally finished my Sun Star Brooch tutorial.  This is my first bead embroidery tutorial, and has evolved over a number of years from a bezelled RAW ring to it’s current huge embroidered flamboyant form, with a centrepiece hand painted cabochon.  It plays to my ongoing obsession with Czech etched beads, particularly the larger sized seeds and absolutely amazing daggers.

Sun Star Brooch – Sarah Cryer Beadwork – Magic Apple

It uses a variety of bead embroidery techniques, including back stitch, bezelling using circular peyote, seeding and edging to make a statement brooch or pendant, and would suit beginner bead embroiderers comfortable with a needle – it’s an ideal project for beadweavers or embroiders looking to try out bead embroidery as it covers key basic techniques which you can then go on to try out in your own designs.  If you already have some bead embroidery experience, then this makes a lovely quick project – I can do one in an evening (although to be fair I have had quite a lot of practice and am a bit naughty about letting the glue dry properly).

Sun Star Brooch – Sarah Cryer Beadwork – Magic Apple and Crystal Marea

The thirteen page tutorial contains a full materials list, with suggestions for colour schemes, and every step is fully illustrated with a detailed diagram showing thread paths etc, with photos to show you what you are aiming for.  And of course every step is also written out clearly for those of us who prefer written instructions.

It’s available now in my Etsy shop as an instant download, as are the cabochons (both hand painted and Liberty print) and I hope to complete some materials packs in the next couple of days.

Once you’ve mastered the basic brooch, there are possibilities for variations which I hope to explore here over the next few months, so watch this space.   I’ve already worked out that you can add extra rows of embroidery around a smaller central cab if you can’t find a 30mm one:

How completely gorgeous are those capri rose etched beads?

And the advent of 2 holed daggers opens up some new ideas……..

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Materials Packs for Great Balls of Spikes

I’ve been meaning to put together some Materials Packs for my Great Balls of Spikes Tutorial for ages, and on Saturday I had the time (well I had the energy to stay up late to make the time).  So here they are – I hadn’t realised quite how many Spikes & Gumdrops I’ve managed to collect whilst ‘meaning to do this’, so there is a nice variety of colours and finishes to suit all tastes.  I’ve really dug around in my stash to find some interesting finishes for the seeds and fire-polished beads, and am parting with some really nice ones which I’ve been hoarding.  My favourite is the Magic Orchid Spike colourway, because the spikes are gorgeous and really sing with the Zest, Fuchsia and Magic Orchid seeds and Magenta Metallic fire-polisheds, and quite frankly if someone doesn’t buy it soon it may mysteriously disappear.

Anyway, here they all are – if you click on each photo it should take you through to the correct listing in my Folksy shop.  If you’d rather use Etsy, then the brights (Magic Orchid, Cornflower, Frosted Crystal) are here, the darks (Matte Black, Jet Copper, Blue Iris) here, and the Gumdrops (Magic Blueberry, Jet Slipperit) here.

Magic Orchid Spikes

Magic Orchid Spikes

Magic Blueberry Gumdrops

Magic Blueberry Gumdrops

Cornflower Spikes

Cornflower Spikes

Dark Blue Iris Spikes

Dark Blue Iris Spikes

Jet Slipperit Gumdrops

Jet Slipperit Gumdrops

Matte Black & Crimson Spikes

Matte Black & Crimson Spikes

Jet & Copper Spikes

Jet & Copper Spikes

Matte Crystal, Scarlet & Silver Spikes

Matte Crystal, Scarlet & Silver Spikes

And finally, the tutorial itself is available for instant download via Etsy here (VAT will be added if you are in the EU), via PayHip here (no VAT), or if you don’t mind waiting for me to e-mail via Folksy here (no VAT).

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Our Solar System

One of the best bits of winning an Etsy Beadweavers Challenge is that you get to choose a future challenge topic.  The first time I won (with my Nasturtium Ring) I chose ‘Architecture’, which prompted some lovely entries.  My second win, with my Wings Bangle for the ‘Abstract Painting’ challenge was last October and my space mad family chose ‘Our Solar System’ as a theme.  Because we don’t run a challenge in December, and because January is always ‘Rising Star’ (for new members and those who haven’t won a challenge), the team have had plenty of thinking and beading time, and there have been a huge number of really fabulous entries.  I’ve not entered because I did a Planets necklace a while back and was a bit stumped for a new idea – looking at the entries I wouldn’t have stood a chance anyway!

So, the brief I gave them was:

The Solar System

In our house at the moment we are completely obsessed with our Solar System. My husband has a new telescope which we’ve been using to look at the moon and planets, so he’s constantly coming up with new activities (last week we all watched the International Space Station whizz over us). Recently we saw a wonderful harvest moon, followed the same night by the lunar eclipse (so much better than last year’s cloud covered solar eclipse), and last week I opened my newspaper to see some extraordinary new images of Jupiter’s storms from the Hubble Space Telescope, so when it came to choosing a theme it seemed like the whole universe was shouting at me!

Anyway, our Solar System seems like wonderful inspiration for beaders – how about beaded beads making a necklace of  planets, a scatter of rough natural crystals captured in freeform beadwork forming the Asteroid belt, or some bead embroidery inspired by the twisting stripes of Jupiter’s storms? And if you get stuck you can always watch our favourite song for inspiration, or if you are feeling more sensible have a look at the Hubble website’s gallery (don’t get distracted by the far off nebulae though, please stick to our own Solar System).

I gave them a link to Thomas (5) & Oscar’s (2) favourite song:

And to the Hubble Gallery.

And this is what they produced – extraordinary!

Etsy Beadweavers Feb 16 Solar System entries

Here are links to the Etsy listings:

Thomas (5) is completely in love with Kris’ Rocket (no.2) – who wouldn’t be, and dear husband loves the other Chris’ spiral galaxy (no.9).  Apparently the fact that our solar system is shown in red is astronomically significant and that (as well as its’ loveliness) pleases his pedantic heart.  Oscar (2) is far too young to choose a favourite (he just says ‘beads’), and I can’t really say because it would be a bit inappropriate (although I think those of you who know me could probably narrow it down to three based on past beady fawning).  I’ll tell you all when the voting is over…………….

Anyway please, please do have a proper look through and then swing by the team blog before February 16th and cast your vote for your favourite – it only takes a second, and there is something for everyone.   Follow us on Facebook or via the blog to keep up to date with all of our shops and to be inspired by the challenges (next month’s is ‘Masquerade’), and if you really love one of these fantastic pieces, why not buy it and have it forever?

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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.