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.
The utterly fabulous Jean Power is holding a Secret Bead Along for National Beading Week. It’s £5 to participate, or if you either subscribe to her newsletter (recommended – always interesting, you hear first about new designs and usually get a discount code for patterns) or are a member of the Beadworker’s Guild its’ FREE. I have my instructions for the pre-work, and am currently faffing about what colours to use (normal for me I know, but worsened by not knowing what I’m actually working towards)! Hopefully my sister Susie Hoad will also be participating – we are off on holiday together towards the end of that week and it would be great fun to finish off together. I don’t get to bead with other beaders in person very often, so I love the idea that so many of us will all be beading together around the country (or perhaps the world), and even if we’re not in the same room it will be supercool to see what everyone produces.
Above is a picture of one of Jean’s designs (beaded my me) so you can see just how exciting her work is!
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…….
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.
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)
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).
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…………
We’ve all been a bit peaky recently, so favourite films have been deployed. I was managing to do a bit of beading, but kept getting stuck, so I thought I’d do some quick beaded beads as they are always useful. We were watching Finding Nemo at the time, and before I knew it I’d fringed over the peyote base to make a lovely anemone for Marlin and Nemo.
However the colour was not deemed suitable for an anemone, so a second one with colours chosen by Boy 1 (who has quite garish taste, even compared to me) is now finished.
Fun, relatively quick, and if my previous fringed beaded bead is anything to go on, will be much commented on.
- Large base bead of your choice – I used a 20mm diameter. The size 8s plus the fringing make it much bigger – the finished size is more like 40mm diameter.
- Enough size 8 seeds to cover the base bead – probably around 1-2 g (apologies, forgot to weigh them).
- At least 4g of size 11 seeds.
- And around 4g of 3.4mm Miyuki drops or similar.
- Using circular peyote (I favour a 5 bead start), cover the base bead with an even, firm peyote layer. This layer will barely be visible, so don’t worry too much about gaps. Leave holes for later threading onto a neckwire or chain.
- Then, working from one of the holes, go through a size 8, pick up 3 11s and one drop. Go back through the 3 11s and then into the ext 8. Repeat ad nauseum until you have a fringe coming from every 8. That’s it really.
- If you’ve not peyoted onto a base bead before then have a hunt around for a tutorial. Having tried and failed to do them in the past without a tutorial, a while back I invested in a few different sizes from The Crimson Moon, and having made a few of each size am now comfortable enough with the technique to just go for it. Sadly Liz isn’t selling her patterns any more, but have a look around Etsy and similar sites and see what you can find – post some recommendations here if you find a good one. If you can find a tutorial using 8s, even better, as you can use them as a basis for an Anemone beaded – those inevitable gaps and threads in your first few attempts will be hidden by the fringe!
- As with any fringing, you have to watch the working thread like a hawk to ensure it doesn’t get caught. Work methodically around the bead, rather than darting around, as as things fill up you will find it hard to spot the gaps and even harder to fill them in without getting in a tangle.
I’ve been making another Fortuneteller, but this time with size 10 delicas. I used my previous one as a template, measuring the various distances as I beaded along and at first it went well. However, as it grew it became clear that the bigger beads meant that the thickness of the MRAW band made the inner layer significantly smaller than the original, and finishing the joins between the small horns was definitely going to make it unwearable by me at least. So rather than hoping for a tiny handed customer, or giving it to one of the boys (boy 2 is very keen on bangles) I’ve made it into a rather splendid bowl and I like it. Which is just as well…………
- Size 10 delicas in three shades of red, one orange and silver, 26g in total.
- Size 3.4 drop beads.
- Unless you actually want to make a bowl, I’d suggest a starter MRAW band which contains six repeated ‘Vs’ with 9 units on each side of the V (not the 8 units I used).
- To get the colour effect I used, start the MRAW band with the silver, using one of the reds as the fill bead. Add a drop bead as one of the inner beads on any increases or decreases (you may want to miss them on the decreases – I chose to leave them in as I like the look of the drop nestling in the V. Then change red/orange every row. As you approach the horns, start adding the odd silver in, then more each row until you are just using silver. I chose a random pattern, mirrored on each pair of horns, but kept it identical for each round so that the graduation was even across all the horns. Then gently fade the reds back in, and finally as you approach the final tips work the silver back in again.
- Size 10 delicas are still quite hard to get hold of in the UK. Stitch n Craft are expanding their range gradually, and as usual offer probably the most competitive pricing (assuming you spend enough to qualify for free postage, which I never fail to do), although their colour range is still quite limited. Charisma have a good range of colours, as do Fine Lines.
- Finally, with this kind of work, especially with larger beads, you really can’t make any mistakes as they will be very obvious on the finished piece. I made quite a few as I was very tired, and the lovely push pin and eraser combo I was sent by the lovely Jean Power with my copy of Geometric Beadwork 1 was worked quite hard. I can’t remember having to break out this many beads for ages.
Other than my general incompetence it worked really well with the size 10s, and in many ways it’s the best use of these for geometric beadwork that I’ve tried before. I will have a go at an actual bangle once I’ve got all the other things on my beading list moving along.
I’ve had my electronic copy of Contemporary Geometric Beadwork 2 for a few weeks now, and with the bigger boy at school at last I felt I had the time and energy to have a go at another piece. One of the loveliest pieces in book 1 was the Fortuneteller, and with lots of lovely examples in book 2 I felt inspired. It’s gone together very nicely (they really are deceptively simple designs in the end) and I’m really rather pleased with it.
I used a variety of shades of red, orange, salmon and peach delicas, including two of the newish luminous colours. In natural light the finished piece is very bright, but the yellow tones of artificial light do quieten it a bit. Apologies for the failure to take photos in progress, but I don’t get much chance to get at my beads in daylight……
29g of delicas in around 15 different shades of salmon, red, orange, peach, yellow and pink, including luminous, mattes, metallics and transparents. 24 Miyuki drops (various colours, taken from a mix).
Tips & variations
I made their ‘small’ which is only just large enough. However I do expect it to stretch a bit in wear so I’d say this should be perfect. Their small is six repeats of the zigged band with 10 units on each side of the zig. My knuckles measure 21cm round.
I had a little trouble following the instructions towards the end so I ended up simply adding a drop to what I felt was roughly the right place, and zipping 3 beads only Jean Power style, which gave about the same look, avoided making it any smaller and seems fine to me.
Next time I will vary slightly and add drops to the modified raw band (at the decreases) to match the other points.
I didn’t add drops in the final round (after zipping) as I felt the three already there were sufficient.
I used some transparent frosted lime beads for the raw band and edges. If I was making again I think an opaque bead would work better here (although I would still use transparent beads for some rows in the main fabric), or even a metallic. Alternatively I might use two colours in the RAW – one for the horizontal, one for the vertical beads, as that would more closely mirror my colour use in the rest of the piece and allow the band to blend more.
Another one I think, in more subtle colours (probably soft grey metallics and blues). I am also wondering what this would look like in seed beads?
I was scratching my head as to what to make to wear to a big wedding recently, and having dug around found some crystals in the right colours to bezel. And I bezelled away night after night until I had a lovely collection, but the day before the wedding bought a different dress, so I am left with fifty odd marea, crystal, sunflower and sapphire stones with gold bezels.
So, what shall I do with them dear readers?
While we were on holiday I decided it was high time I made something for me – beading recently has been about competitions and the shop, rather than stuff for myself. As every beader knows, we are the strange people who have something to match perfectly with every outfit, and I seem to have acquired new clothes without beadwork to match. Chief among these are my new and very silly trousers (under the bangle above) from Boden, and whilst I rarely get to wear jewellery because of the littlest boy, their colours seemed to present an opportunity for something very loud. This isn’t quite as daft as it seems – I wear them with a plain navy blue top so some colour is needed to balance things out a bit.
I made a little pendant with some fluorescent pinks, blues and magentas, but it was still a bit dwarfed by the trews. Something truly epic was called for – and with some extra time courtesy of a few rest days at my parents with the boys, I finally felt ready to attempt a bigger piece from Contemporary Geometric Beadwork. I dug out a PDF they issued last year for the ‘Mowgli’ Zig Wing Bangle, and a big box of beads.
Here’s what I learnt:
- The modified RAW band is lovely. However, you will end up holding it while you bead, so make sure you use beads with a very permanent finish. I think I grabbed the first silvers I found, and they were galvanised so they’ve lost a little sparkle.
- Their small/medium (5 points) is quite big. If I make another I might drop some repeats from each side.
- The written instructions don’t quite match the diagrams for the beginning of the second side. Follow the diagrams, the words will give you about 4 extra rows – not the end of the world, but time-consuming, possibly affecting the sizing and probably not as nice.
- Another time I think I will skip the ‘slipper’ join and shaping on the inside layer, and instead just zip that part together. It feels like this would make a better base for the outer layer and show that fantastic shaping with less distortion.
- I didn’t keep a full count of hours – at a guess I’d say around 20? Certainly a reasonably big job compared to my usual pendants and earrings, but a lot quicker than expected.
- Also actually much easier than expected – is basically plain peyote with some herringbone increases and decreases.
I’ll be honest and say I didn’t find the instructions hugely clear – I can’t quite identify exactly why, but they do make the piece seem more complicated than it is. However the diagrams are good, with thread paths at critical points, so most intermediate beaders should manage fine if they concentrate!
- I’m going to pop some drops or even seed beads into the RAW band at the point where the decreases will go next time, as they will form a nicer corner than delicas.
- Kate recommends soft tension. She says this a lot and she is quite right! However this is tricky with delicas, and even trickier with matte beads. Try to relax, the fitting and shaping (as well as the finished feel) will be easier if you do.
All in all, I’m pleased. I’ll certainly have a go at another big piece from CGB ( now I know they are easier than they look), and I await CGB 2 with eagerness. If I am feeling really energetic I think I will treat myself to one of Barbara Brigg’s patterns from Etsy – they look incredible and should I think be nice and clear.
When I get a minute I will update with the finished weight so you can see what kind of volume of beads is involved.
Why is it that I work so much better under pressure? Or is it that I just think I do because I am a hideous procrastinator and it makes a good excuse? Either way I have had nearly a year to get my four pieces done for this years Stitch ‘n’ Craft Four Seasons challenge, but with a week to go I was still faffing around with the construction of Autumn. Pretty fundamental stuff…..
Anyway, I gave up at about 10.30 on Friday night, and in the cold light of day (OK the very warm and humid light of yesterday) I’m reasonably content with the pieces as a whole and my final work on Autumn is just fine. I can’t show you any of them properly as that would spoil things, but there is a taster above. All peyote pretty much (have reverted to my beadweaving roots), and only one piece using delicas (so running away from my roots there). I labeled them up last night while dear husband was at a glamorous party, so tomorrow morning I need to scribble a quick note about presentation (‘please put necklace on bust, looks a bit odd otherwise, don’t really mind about the rest’), and then pack them up ready for posting. And then I am free – at least for a couple of days and then back to prepping for the Folksy featured shop and coping with the school holidays.
So for this year at least I can bid a fond farewell to the four pieces that took over my beading life – adieu to ‘Crystal Garland’; ‘Tumbling Leaves’; ‘A ********* for Oscar ‘ (sorry, can’t give you the full name because it spoils it); and ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. Bye Bye.
PS I rather suspect dearest husband would rather I didn’t enter next year – something to do with stress, obsession – not sure? He may be right because it does rather completely take over, but I’m reserving judgement until I know what next year’s challenge is……….sorry darling, and happy 7th wedding anniversary my sweet. XXX