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:
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?
Just a very short post to say that my latest piece ‘Nasturtium Ring’ is currently featured in the Etsy Beadweaving Team’s May Challenge. It’s a continuous brickwork piece, with a teeny size 15 seed bead ring band that merges, then expands with huge numbers of increases (and some help from some 11s near the edge) to form a ruffled disc. It is most certainly a statement piece, not something for everyday (unless your days involve less washing up, cleaning and coping with small children than mine).
You can see the other entries on the blog here, and even vote for your favourite. Or search ‘EBWC’ on Etsy and they will all pop up there (apart from any that have already sold), and you can read about what aspects of Chihuly’s work inspired us all. Enjoy, & happy beading!
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.
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.
As usual I was stuck for a birthday present for my mother, and as usual had left it a bit late (under a week). But then inspiration struck on Tuesday as I remembered that Stitch ‘n’ Craft have started selling lovely Shibori Ribbon. Made by Shibori Girl, I’ve wanted to buy some for a while, but have held back as it’s not cheap. However, I thought a yard of it would make a lovely necklace if I made a big beaded bead to thread on it, and it didn’t seem quite so expensive if it meant I could get a whole necklace from only a few hours work.
The colours that were very obviously Mummy’s thing were sadly out of stock, so I gambled on ‘Fallen Apple’, ordered on Tuesday morning and it was with me by Wednesday lunchtime – and it’s perfect for her. Some scrabbling around in my too large book collection turned up ‘Amphora’ in Marcia DeCoster’s Beaded Opulence, and I got started. I’ve made one before, which you can see below top left (reds and black).
My first attempt this time failed – the tension of the RAW base was much too tight (it seems to need to be very loose for this piece, presumably because of the shape and embellishment), and the colours I had chosen (coppers and lime) were much too brash. You can see that one in the middle below, half done and then hacked about a bit to get at the beads. Fortunately the second attempt (bottom right), using much more subtle beads has turned out perfectly, and was all done in just a few hours. I tweaked the design a bit, substituting copper 3mm pearls and matte copper 3mm fire polished beads for the 3mm bicones (Mummy is not really a crystal person), and using drop beads as the central few embellishments to add texture. I’m very pleased, although the ribbon is looking a little thin, so I will experiment with pressing the pleats a little tonight to widen it out. Hopefully Mummy will like it when we give it to her tomorrow.
The substitutions worked well. However if you want to substitute drops in where I did then you will need to use 11s rather than 15s to surround them (as although the top of the drop is over 3mm, the base is much smaller).
Marcia works with lovely subtle base colours – so it may be best to stick with these if you’re using one of her designs. She then uses several highlight colours in the upper layers, but I also found that using just one worked.
You can’t really see the fire-polished beads from the centre of layer 1 as there are two layers above – so don’t flap too much about having the perfect ones – use some OK ones and save the nicer finishes for something where they will be seen properly. A darker colour than the rest of your base beads actually seems to enhance the design.
Good and quick – I’d say around 2 hours if you’re familiar with the design or an embellised RAW fanatic.