I’ve been a little short on beady mojo lately – I have some big pieces and tutorials that are nearly done, I keep having to restock my materials packs and I’m plenty busy, but because I’m procrastinating about some of those things I don’t feel I want to start any big new designs of my own. But I do want to bead, and I want to bead really really bright. So I dug out one of my favourite books, and knocked up a couple of pieces in very summery colours.
The book is Sabine Lippert’s Beaded Fantasies, and I’ve made my favourite ‘Granada’ brooch, and a necklace which is new to me called Art Deco Necklace. Sabine is an incredible designer, and I’ve made tonnes of her pieces, and it’s been really nice to return to the first book of hers that I bought and bash out some simple, quick and very wearable projects.
Obviously I love making Granada, as I’ve made it at least twice before, and I really enjoyed Art Deco too. Sabine’s patterns are always easy to work from, and although they are a bit condensed and harder to follow in the book than in her individual self-published tutorials (presumably because there is a lot less space in a book), the diagrams are good and I didn’t really have any problems.
And though I say it myself, I LOVE my colours! All the beads were from my stash as these were spur of the moment projects, and I especially love the neon coral 6mm Swarovski Pearls, which I got on sale from Stitch n Craft, the Crystal Light Coral Swarovski Rivoli (also Stitch N Craft), the 3mm milky lime bicones from Robin’s Beads, and in the necklace, the neon red matte rounds from Creative BeadCraft (must buy more….).
And I’ve also used another excellent Stitch n Craft find, a brooch back with bail, which will enable me to wear the Granada as either a pendant or a brooch.
I wrote a while back about all the lovely patterns I have stored up which I was waiting to work on, and I’ve finally actually managed to make one. Sabine Lippert is a favourite of mine – I find her patterns really relaxing to bead, but I’ve not made many of her bigger pieces, largely because of the volumes of beads needed. As a stash lover I’m always a bit uncomfortable actually using my beads……. But as of recently I’m now able to buy some beads in wholesale packs, so when I bought a lovely big bag of 3mm matte sliperit fire polished beads, and a good sized pack of 3mm fuchsia preciosa bicones which worked beautifully together, the time was come to grab some etched sliperit 4mm fire polished and seeds out of my stash and make the lovely Boomerang Bling.
It’s a completely genius pattern – essentially CRAW or PRAW but with some clever twists and additions, but largely unebellished meaning the basic network and form really shines through, making a beautiful 3d fabric of beads. After the first few components I really got into the design, and was able to bead the remainder without constantly referring to the pattern, which was really relaxing. And it’s woven in one continuous rope, which means less stopping and starting and minimises the end weaving in. I made one tiny change, which isn’t noticeable – because I was using etched beads I didn’t have any 15s (which form the tip of each boomerang component), so I stuck with the 11s. Which still look great – thank you Sabine!
Regular followers will know that for a while now I’ve been playing with Pebeo paint effects, and working out how to use them to make my own cabochons. Attempts to make successful resin pieces are still ongoing (and not going well), but I’m pleased to say that after a lot of experimentation (lasting over 6 months) I’ve got a stable technique for using clear glass cabochons. I’ve spent a couple more months playing with the results, and making sure they are easy to work with and wear well, and now I’ve built up some experience with them I’ve put a subset up for sale in my Etsy shop.
Most are domed, so have that lovely magnifying effect, although some including the large 30mm squares are flat tiles. All have flat backs, making them suitable for bead embroidery as well as beadweaving. They come in a range of colours, and are sold both singly and in sets, and I’m happy to take commissions for sets or the larger individual ones (40 & 50mm). I’ll hopefully be putting together some tutorials very soon to give you some ideas as to what to do with them, starting with my awesome brooch etched dagger brooch.
If you’re chomping at the bit though, and have some beading experience, then for a beadwoven bezel try doing an MRAW start in 11s with 32 repeats. Then add one row of 11s using peyote, and one using 15s. Sit the cab in front side down, and finish off the back with 2 rows of 11s and 2 of 15s. And then embellish, embellish, embellish!
So I had another go at beaded bead pattern number 1 – Conway Beaded Bead by GwenBeads. And then a few more goes, and finally I’ve got one finished. Actually I’ve finished two, but the first one is not good so will be fragged………..Interestingly I found this pattern quite challenging, possibly because conceptually it is actually quite simple, and as I was tired I struggled to maintain the absolute accuracy it demands. An single extra thread pass in the wrong place can mean this one doesn’t work, and as the internal structure is all seeds, rather than building on base of larger beads, it is a bit of a nightmare to unpick if you make an error and don’t discover it for a while. Looking on the bright side, my sister Susie Hoad (BeadingBySusie) churns these out in a couple of hours, seemingly without any effort, so I think once I’ve made as many as she has (which is quite a few) I should get the hang of it.
Anyhow, the pattern is by Gwen Fisher of Bead Infinitum fame, and was my first introduction to prismatic RAW (PRAW). On reflection this was quite a tricky one to start with – I might have been better with something like her fun looking Tentacle bangle or the Daisy Chain bangle rather than the full on 3D experience.
It says ‘advanced’ on the blurb, it means it!
And you definitely need to understand the structure of a dodecahedron (and constantly check you’re doing 5 sided units, it’s very easy to loose count).
And don’t use colour lined crystal beads for your first go as they seem to confuse the eye – I’d go for something matte (to help you manage the tension), for a good contrast between the 8s and 11s in the structure colourwise to help you see what you are up to, and nothing too dark as you will be working inside the structure a bit.
Like any embellished RAW, CRAW or PRAW you should maintain a medium tension for the base – too loose and you’ll get an uneven finish, too firm and you won’t be able to add the embellishment. My first version, as well as containing a couple of mistakes, was as usual too firm and I’ve struggled to get an even outer finish. It will be unpicked and redone soon………..
Susie says that this works well in 6s and 8s, and whilst I wouldn’t recommend them for a first go (as maintaining any kind of tension in RAW or netting with 6s is impossible), I’m definitely going to try them next. She also builds out on the embellishment step using twin holed beads of various types, which helps alleviate my slight reservation about the small size of the finished bead (for all that work I’d like something about half as big again – the 11 and 15 version is under an inch in diameter). And Susie has already tried out lots of colours and embellishments, so have a look at her Facebook piccies of them here for inspiration. Very kindly Gwen allows limited commercial use, so I may even be able to sell a few as pendants when I finally get the hang of it and get the completion time down. Overall a very interesting advanced pattern.
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’m scared of glue – in beadwork it always seems to let me down. I know that just as when a wholly stitched piece fails it’s my technique that is at fault, but I still avoid it rather than learning how to use it correctly. However, I spotted some interesting clasps on Etsy which solve the age old problem of how to finish a flat beaded cuff without interrupting the simplicity of the shape, and the only way to attach my flat beadwork to them was to get out the glue. So far it has held………
34g peanut beads in silver lined frosted crystal (Stitch N Craft)
1g size 11 seed beads in silver lined frosted crystal
Magnetic box clasp
Thread of your choice
Glue/cement of your choice
This bracelet is based on lots of pieces I’ve seen around the beading world using plain RAW and farfalles/peanut beads, so although its simplicity (flat RAW – not exactly revolutionary) means I did strictly speaking manage to design it myself, the credit for the concept belongs to others – so if you want a proper pattern head over to Etsy and look at Shelley Nybajke‘s splendid downloads using some bigger lovely etched beads. I bet she isn’t scared of glue. Aurelio Castano has also done some lovely things with similar clasps, and Beading Daily blogged about both of their work (which is what made me order the clasps in the first place).
Anyway, it consists of 43 rows of RAW 10 units wide using the farfalles. Then to create a tab to glue into the clasp I sized down using 11s and then did a row or two using pairs of 15s (have a play to see what will fit into your clasp).
Use a double length of thread – work with one half, then go back and build out in the opposite direction using the other half.
Fasten off and attach a new thread for the 11s as then if something goes wrong with the catch you won’t trash the main part of the beadwork.
Next time I’d make this wider rather than narrower than the catch – I just think it will look better. One or possibly two more units per row.
I’d also make it a touch snugger on the wrist as it will sit better and not flap around. Two or possibly three rows less (I have a 16 cm wrist – finished length was 19.5cm and I think 18cm would have been better).
These clasps were fine to play with, but if you have another source locally I’d go for something a little more expensive as the plating has already started to wear a little. Also the holes on this colour (which looked like they might be useful for glue avoidance) turned out to be a bit clogged up with plating and would have trashed my thread…….
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.