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Crimson Frog Fish

Having been reminded of her gorgeous work in the recent Stitch and Craft  brochure, I googled Kinga Nichols to see if she offers kits or tutorials for those of us unable to get to classes.  She does, but her Etsy shop is a bit empty as she’s just been away – this is probably just as well given that I have far too many beads already, the pound is low, and postage from the States is horribly expensive.  However, further googling turned up her new video tutorial for Interweave.  I’ve used free video tutorials in the past to help with things like knitting and sewing, but never for beading, and to be honest, never paid for.  But it’s something I’d maybe like to try doing myself one day, and I’d just bought a fantastic eye cabochon from WingSmith and some red bead foundation from Jencel at the Big Bead Show, so it felt like the beady universe was saying ‘go on go on’,  so I splashed out the rather steep $19.99 and had a go.

We made a fish.  She is rather lovely, and ugly at the same time, and I really enjoyed making her.  I have learnt about glues, fabrics etc, drawn and cut out my base (the tutorial claims to be focussed on working with pre-cut foundation, but to be fair other than the fact that we are using one, it’s not about that, it’s really about making a lovely beaded fish).  I’ve at last sorted out my back stitch (which I’d never got to like previously), and I’ve added a bezel to the glued on eye, seeded on some Swarovski lochrosen (glass sequins), drops and best of all added some lentils to cover a huge space in no time at all!

The video is well structured, with good, clear explanations of the key stitches and techniques.  There is possibly a little too much of watching Kinga do back stitch, but one can always fast forward.  It’s certainly possible to watch and bead, and then just pause when you need to catch up, which works well so long as you have a device/PC next to your beading area (in my case this consists of an iPad on the arm of the sofa).  It’s certainly been the best bead embroidery technically that I’ve done, and I think Kinga deserves full credit for that.  The next test will be to see whether I can appy this to some designs of my own.

I enjoyed making the pink and red one so much that I’ve made a second fish in pink, green and purple – this time the correct size (I scaled the first up as the eye I had was huge), and I see more of these plus some other Kinga style bead embroidery in my future…….

Hints & Tips

  • Interweave sell this as either a single video ‘download’ (there is a second project available as well) or as a pair of projects on DVD.  The downloads are $19.99 each (so $39.98 the pair), the DVD pair $34.99.  I don’t know who does their accounting, but that feels like a rip off.  The downloads should cost significantly less to sell, and yet are more because you can’t buy the pair.  With the pound low this works out as at least twice what I would normally pay for a tutorial, and more than the price of a book for a single project.  If you are based in the US and can buy the DVD set then that will be a reasonable deal – otherwise for UK based beaders I’m not sure I can recommend based on price.  As I write it is reduced to $15.99, so if you live somewhere with a favourable dollar exchange rate, it may be worth a buy!
  • If you are using an iPad or iPhone, they are not even downloads – you are effectively buying access to stream the video, not to save it on your device.  Yes, I will when I have time download it onto my PC, but I’ll want to watch it on my iPad or iPhone so will have to get dear husband to transfer it on.  This is governed by the way that Apple run downloads onto iPads and iPhones, and is not something Interweave alone can change, but a more substantial warning before purchase would have been appreciated.
  • There’s a PDF included with a template of the fish to trace, which is great, but no materials list.  You have to work out as you go along what beads you will need, and for me, that was quite annoying – I like to pull together the right beads (or roughly the right beads) before I start, so that I know I can bead all of the way through without having to go hunt out or even buy additional beads.  A written tutorial or magazine project would always contain a list, so why not a digital download.  Even just talking through the materials required at the beginning of the film would have helped………hopefully though my list in the Recipe below will be of some use!
  • Coloured bead foundation is a must here – going back to the lack of materials list you’re going to be pretty disappointed as you can’t start without it.  Coincidentally I’d bought some red and pink Nicole’s Bead Backing from Jencel at the Big Bead Show, so was kitted up ready to go.  It’s the first time I’ve worked with it, rather than using white Lacey’s Stiff Stuff or Beadsmith Bead Backing and it was really, really liberating.  Using a backing that compliments or even contrasts with your beads, which you’re happy to show through makes everything easier, and means you can use larger beads with ease without having to fuss filling in the tiny gaps with seeds, spoiling the effect and multiplying the work! I’ve invested in some more colours now, and I feel that having a good backing colour will make me more confident and bold with my beads.
  • I didn’t really want to make a big, heavy cuff, and didn’t have the right materials to do that anyway – instead I had a look at the other fish pieces Kinga has done and spotted that sometimes she puts a hole in the upper fin and uses that to thread a cord through, making a pendant.  This was relatively easy to do, although I’m slightly worried about the strength of the loop – will it distort in use?  Another time I’m going to cut a piece of plastic (from some washed veg packaging or similar) to sit between the foundation and backing to provide additional strength.  I may even consider doing this for the whole piece as with so many heavy beads on it does feel like it could do with some extra stiffening.
  • I didn’t have the petals Kinga used for the scales – instead I used some lentils I’ve been sitting on for a while, and I think they also work really well.  As they are smaller than the petals I decided not to add seed bead stalks, as the holes are reasonably inconspicuous.  That meant I had to work from the tail inwards to get the layering of the scales right (Kinga is able to work the other way as her petals sit further off the foundation with their beaded stalks, so can be pushed aside).
  • Big eyes are better – the second fish I made has an eye closer to the outline provided (15mm), and I don’t think she is as fun as the first one, which has a much larger eye (25mm) in proportion to the rest of the piece.  If you’re working using the template, I would use a 20mm eye.
  • Dragon eyes (with a vertical slit for a pupil) don’t look as nice as ‘normal’ eyes.  Don’t know why, they just don’t look as friendly.
  • They’re pretty big and daring, even for me to wear.  They may take a turn on the Christmas tree this year………..

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Recipe

Creative Bead Embroidery 1 with Kinga Nichols: Working with Precut Foundations Video Download

Coloured beading foundation to tone with your main colours.  I used Nicole’s Bead Backing in red (red & pink fish) and fuchsia (pink & purple fish).

Backing – tone, contrast, compliment, whatever – I used Ultrasuede in fuchsia as it’s easy to work with and I had some, although Kinga suggests leather instead as it is more durable.

Glass eye cabochon – I used a 25mm from Wingsmith for the red/pink, and a 15mm from Kookeli for the purple/pink.  Next time I’ll use a 20mm (see Hints & Tips).

Seed Beads:
  • Size 11 in at least three colours (an outline colour, a main colour for the backstitched circles and one of the fin stripes, and a third colour to give some contrast round the eyes – you could work with more than two colours in this area).  I used Duracoat Zest 4205 as the outline and Silver Lined Fuchsia 1436 as the main for both, with Silver Lined Vermillion 1010 for the red/pink fish and Silver Lined Purple 1446 for the purple/pink.  All Miyuki of course.
  • Size 15s – just a few to close the eye bezel and for attaching the lochrosen – Duracoat Zest 4205 for both fish.
  • Size 11 delicas in a contrast to form the stripes on the fins.  I used Silver Lined Frosted Orange 682 for the red/pink fish, and Galvanised Dark Magenta 463 for the purple/pink.
Feature Beads:
  • For the belly, Swarovski Lochrosen in 4mm (Fuchsia & Light Siam) for the pink/red fish, and O-beads and Tri-beads in Magic Orchid for the pink/purple.  Kinga uses the Swarovski in two sizes, which would be lovely, but I don’t have them and they seem to be very difficult to get hold of at the moment.  Probably a Strictly Come Dancing induced shortage.  The O and Tri beads worked very well though, and are more economical.  If you’re using a ‘magic’ coating, make sure the coated side sits at the back, so that the transparent side sticks up giving you the sparkle.
  • Next along the belly, some 3.4mm Miyuki drops – ideally transparent, with optional colour lining rather than a frosted or opaque – they’ll look like glossy bubbles.  I used red lined topaz for the pink/red and a pink/green mix for the purple/pink.
  • And finally, some larger, flattish beads for the scales – Kinga uses Petals, but I didn’t have any so I tried Lentils and they worked well – Etched Crystal Full Marea for the red/pink, and Magic Orchid for the purple/pink.  Again make sure you use the beads the right way up to get the best from the coating.

All in all not the best value, but well explained and demonstrated, and a fantastic, enjoyable project which I plan to repeat. A lot.

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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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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.

 

 

 

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My 2016 beady to do list

After my obligatory blogger’s 2015 review, here’s my equally obligatory 2016 look ahead!  Thank you to my sister Susie for the apposite mug – it is sadly true as I spend a worrying amount of time thinking about what I want to bead.  This is probably because I have so little time to actually bead, so this year I want to make a plan and sort of stick to it, so I can always have something on hand ready to work on (rather than sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike because I’ve forgotten that really good idea I had three months ago).

So to begin, the projects I started in 2014 and didn’t touch in 2015 – the dreaded ‘unfinished but not quite a UFO yet’ box.

Planned for me to wear at my friend Jane’s wedding in the smartest venue imaginable.  Abandoned when I decided the dress was too short for said venue.  This was going to be a series of arches to mirror the digital print of the Ted Baker dress, and I think I’ll continue trying to work it out as it’s a lovely dress.  That said, when I pulled the bits so far to take a snap I wasn’t very impressed…….so for now this is back in the ‘maybe’ pile.

Arches - in progress - Sarah Cryer Beadwork

Planned for me to wear at same  wedding with smarter outfit, just as a simple short necklace.   Abandoned when I realised said outfit now too small.  I have plans to turn this into a shoulder covering cape of bezelled stones, connected by a cobweb of antique gold 3mm fire polished beads, but it could take a while to bezel enough stones for that!  The stones are a mix of vintage and new Swarovski, and were a very good exercise in working up similar bezels in lots of shapes and sizes. I’m a lot more confident in this one though, so it’s high up the list to actually do.  It would be a good holiday project as I’d only need the gold beads and chatons (not my normal case full of random pulls).

Sapphires & Gold - in progress - Sarah Cryer Beadwork

These are a variant on Jean Power’s Geometric Secret vessels – only with triangles instead of hexagons.  They’re lovely shaped things, but the one in 15 delicas (at the front) is rather more succesful than the one in 11s as it holds it’s shape, but I’ve never quite known what to do with it as a triangle is not a very wearable shape – it sticks out rather.  It could make a nice pendant hanging below a suitable bosom I suppose?  Not sure what to do with the other one?  Back on the ‘maybe’ pile.

Stepped triangles - Sarah Cryer Beadwork

This one may not make it – I was playing with twin beads to make a flat weave, but I’ve run out of the twins and can’t remember where I got them.  Luckily I do in theory log all my purchases (so I can cost up work/kits), so I should be able to work it out.  If I finish this it will have a long or box clasp and sit as a snug cuff, and I’d like to as it is my colour.  I’d say there is no more than an hour’s beading left to do once I’ve sourced the beads, so stays on the ‘to do’ pile.

Cuff - in progress - Sarah Cryer Beadwork

Maybe I should have included a section on ‘pieces where I’ve run out of beads’ – this one qualifies as well……..it will be a necklace once I’ve worked out how to elegantly extend it to a normal length (or tracked down some more beads).  This would make a nice beginners tutorial as it is super easy, but I think there are already quite a few similar ones around.  On the ‘to do’ pile.

Collar - in progress - Sarah Cryer Beadwork

This is a barely started Jean Power Affinity Bangle – using very cool rubber coated rondelles from my now defunct local bead shop.  I think I have enough to get me through it (I kept buying more in their drawn out closing sale), and I’ve made one before which was a joy, so I want to get going on this soon as the colours are more winter than summer and I think it will be lush!

Affinity Bangle - designed by Jean Power, beaded by Sarah Cryer Beadwork

So, that’s the really old stuff out of the way – just tutorials, last year’s unfinished pile, my long list of unstarted patterns and of course a ‘to try’ inspiration list to go.  This could be the longest set of New Year’s resolutions I’ve written (hopefully I’ll be better at sticking to them than I normally am).  Tune out if you get bored………….

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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.

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Secret Beadalong – colours

One of the wonderful things about the Beadalong is seeing all of the different colourways.  It’s unusual to be exposed to so many interpretations of the same design so quickly, and it’s been fascinating looking at the different approaches we all take.  Some of us chuck as many colours as possible in, others focus on their favourite colour and use different tones, and others pop a single colour as a highlight with neutrals.  For me, as a bright beader, it’s been lovely seeing some really outrageous combinations, but I’ve also become drawn to some of the more sophisticated palettes.  I think my next delica project might be done in matte steel, with some antique gold – classic with a twist, and perhaps more wearable than lime, orange, scarlet and fuchsia…..?

Anyway, a few people have asked me to post my bead details so here you are.  Seeds and delicas are all Miyuki & from Stitch N Craft (of course):

Rivolis – Chinese ‘Volcano’ from Southampton Bead Shop.  I don’t normally buy cheaper rivolis but the colour on these is unique.  They are a bit fat, so you need to adapt the pattern (one extra row of delicas did it here), and I don’t use them for my own patterns and materials packs because of that.

Delicas – 1835 Duracoat Galv Zest; 45 Silver lined Orange; 683 Dyed Semi Frosted Silver lined Red Orange; 422 Galv Fuchsia

Seeds – 11 – 4205 Duracoat Galv Zest

Seeds – 15 – 4205 Duracoat Galv Zest; 1310 Dyed Trans Fuchsia

Crystals 3mm – Swarovski Fuchsia

Pearls/Rounds – 2mm Scarlet Czech Rondelles.  Not a clue where they came from!!

And as for the next step, I’d guess I still need another 18g or so of delicas, so I may have to make up a mix from my stash (I’m only using stash beads for this and I won’t have enough in a single colour by a long way), or come up with a way to use multiple colours once I know what we’re doing.