Squidy

Squidy is my younger son’s favourite cuddly toy – the one he needs at night and takes with him on long car journeys, so when an oval cabochon and some rumpled hand dyed silk ribbons came together to make a squid pendant, what on earth else could I possibly call it?

Squidy uses a variety of bead embroidery, beadweaving and goldwork embroidery techniques, including back stitch, bezelling using circular peyote, seeding, right angle weave bezelling, goldwork and beaded edging to make a statement pendant, brooch or even a beautiful ornament. I’ve written him up as a detailed tutorial because frankly he seemed too much fun not to share, and it’s now available in my Etsy shop.

He’s not horrifically tricky if you’re patient, he’d suit intermediate bead weavers or bead embroiderers, or experienced embroiderers looking to learn some beadweaving techniques. Everything is stepped out in the tutorial, and there is a full techniques section with hints and tips which should set you up well to try out some of these techniques on your own designs.

The materials are probably slightly tricky to get hold of, so I’ve put together some component packs – you can select your own individual cabochon, and the packs also include the goldwork wires, hand dyed ribbons (from HopeJacre designs), Swarovski chatons, beading foundation (Nicole’s Bead Backing), and Ultrasuede. These packs don’t include beads as you need such tiny quantities it’s not worth me weighing them and packing them up – you can just add them in from your own stash and make a unique piece. They’re available in my Etsy shop (which has 10% off until the end of December 2019).

I really enjoyed making Squidy, and he now also has some other sea creature friends which I can’t tell you about just yet – I’m working my way through lots of lovely ribbons to make as many tentacled creatures as I can and it’s really, really fun!

Oscar’s Bauble

For ages now I’ve wanted to use the bezel I did for the chatons at the end of the handle on my Oscar’s Rattle to make the centres of the dodecahedron pentagons. The bead count and general construction was the same, so logically I hoped that I could adapt the gumdrop bezel included in Oscar’s Bauble, and simply substitute the chaton bezel for some of the early steps, continuing on to build out the skirts and pentagons, and join them in the same way as the current variants.

Well it wasn’t quite as straightforward as that, but it wasn’t too awful and in the end only 4 of the steps are actually different, which is pretty good for a 25 step piece! Anyway, I’ve written it up, added it to the current version available on Etsy, and sent the extra variation out to everyone I can find who has already bought the original version (please let me know if you think you’ve bought this one and haven’t had a message from me with the new section).

If you’d like to have a go, you can purchase it from my Etsy shop here (currently with 10% off until the end of December 2019).

Heather Kingsley-Heath – Fantasie

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to spend a weekend with the Beadworker’s Guild for their Great British Bead Show. I had a wonderful time, finally getting to meet people I’ve known electronically for a while, and getting to know even more lovely beaders. I took two one day classes, the first with Jean Power, which I’ll post about shortly, and the second with Heather Kingsley Heath, in which I made her beautiful Fantasie pendant.

I’ve admired Heather’s work for a while and own several of her books and patterns, and this was a lovely chance to work with her in person. This is a great piece to bead, and I was especially pleased with my colour choices – the new Swarovski Crystal Delite finish in Burgundy, and the dark and light blue shades of Swarovski Iridescent Pearls. I matched them with my usual Miyuki Duracoat silver, some matte dark blue (2075) and my new favourite Fuchsia Luster (1465L). I chose the pearls to match the blue sparkles from the Delite finish, and I must say I’m really pleased with the combination.

Fantasie, Heather Kingsley Heather, beaded by Sarah Cryer

I finished the pendant quite quickly after the class, and couldn’t even wait long enough to finish the complimentary beaded chain to wear it, so it’s currently hanging from my usual hand dyed silk cord. I hope to make the chain one day, but for now I do find the cords easy to wear as I can adjust easily from my ideal longer length back to a shorter hang to accomodate my horrible work lanyard and ID badge! This is a common colour palette for me to wear, so it’s had lots of use already.

If you’d like to learn more about the Great British Bead Show and the Beadworker’s Guild you can visit our website. And to learn more about Heather’s beautiful and inspiring work, visit her ‘Heatherworks‘ sites. I bought some more patterns from her in class, so you can expect to see some more of her designs here soon!

Cellini Rick Rack Ninja Star

I’ve just published my Cellini Rick Rack Ninja Star (or Ninja Star for short) in my Etsy shop, and I thought you might be interested to hear about how it came about. This is an extract from the tutorial which you can buy here.

On holiday during Easter 2019, I took a set of seed beads in various sizes to work on my Cellini, and another set of delicas to join in with a CGB beadalong.  The CGB beadalong explored casting pods and spines, and as I beaded that I was also thinking about previous experiments with Cath’s diagonal Cellini, and pieces I’d made from Gwen Fisher’s tutorials.

It didn’t take long for me to wonder what would happen if I combined the two – so I took the bracelet I was making which had been cast off a CGB casting pod, and started to Cellini a strip with rick rack increases and decreases and corresponding Cellini reversals.  It worked, and started making nice shapes which seemed to have potential, so I cast off another from the Cellini strip – this time tubular rather than a strip. That made a pleasing shape which seemed to want to be a star, so I added a second layer, joined the points together, and the Cellini Rick Rack Ninja Star was born. Several versions later I’ve tweaked, un-tweaked and re-tweaked the method and thread path to make it efficient to bead, and here it is.

If you’d like to learn more about any of these techniques, and maybe experiment yourselves, then I’d recommend the following:

  • Jean Power’s book Geometric Beadwork, which covers Rick Racks in detail.  

jeanpower.com

  • Kate McKinnon and the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork movement’s books and blog, which use similar techniques, and will take you through new starting techniques.  If you’re already familiar with these you can find alternative start instructions for use with either casting pods or spines in this tutorial.

contemporarygeometricbeadwork

Cath Thomas’s work on Cellini Peyote, especially her Dimensional Cellini series, which also merges Rick Rack and Cellini, and which Cath kindly directed me to whilst I was finishing this design.

https://caththomasdesigns.indiemade.com/

  • Gwen Fisher’s mathematical Cellini explorations and tutorials.

Gwenbeads

  • And Cath’s Cellini Peyote Freaks Facebook group, where you’ll find lots of Cellini inspiration, materials and support (I should declare an interest as part of the admin team).  Simply search for ‘Cellini Peyote’ on Facebook.

Fresh cabochons

I’ve had a big push this weekend to finish, photograph and list all of the cabochons I have made, to clear space for the next batch.

They’re largely from three pouring sessions – the first working with reds and oranges, and for half of the batch, opaque salmon pink; and the second and third working with a cream base and trying a variety of different colours to complement the cream. These were poured quite recently to make a custom cab for an old school friend’s up-coming wedding. Her piece is under wraps for now, but I’ve begun another bridal piece with cabs from the batch, and you can see cabs from the brighter batch in some of my other finished work, such as my Autumn necklace.

All of the batches are available in my Etsy shop, grouped into listings based on the colours and techniques used. There is one set which is too perfectly matched to break up, and the rest are all available in singles as part of my 5 for 4 discount offer. Click on the images to go straight to the listings on Etsy.

International Beading Week

I’m busy at the moment helping fellow Beadworkers Guild Members to run all of our Social Media channels during International Beading Week, and struggling to find much time for actual beading. Hopefully you all have a bit more time to bead – if you do I’m having a 20% off sale on my tutorials in my Etsy shop – no need for a coupon code, they’re already reduced. Just click on the image to go to the tutorial section.

If you’re interested in finding out more about International Beading Week, please swing by the website http://www.internationalbeadingweek.co.uk and/or search for our page and group on Facebook, or follow #IBW2019 and #Internationalbeadingweek

Ra, Roth & Khepri

I’m somewhat ashamed to see how little I’ve posted over the last year or so, and I’m determined to change that, so be prepared for a flurry of posts as I catch up and tell you about what I’ve been up to.

First I need to tell you about my entry for this year’s Beadworker’s Guild Annual Challenge.  The theme was ‘Jewels of the Nile’ – we were lucky enough to visit Egypt some years back, and Dr Indecisive Beader and I have always both been fascinated by all things Egyptological.   I think my addiction stemmed initially from a desire to be Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s ‘Death on the Nile’ (one of my favourite authors), and my more recent discovery of Elizabeth Peter’s ‘Amelia Peabody’ series has maintained my fascination long after the trip, so having said I’d have a year off after my win last year with Great Dixter, I immediately changed my mind as that theme was too ‘me’ to resist.

As usual this piece went through many aborted starts, abandoned designs and lots of iterations, many of which will reappear as new pieces over the next few months.   In the end I focused on using my own cabs (poured specifically for this piece), lots of different bead embroidery and beadweaving techniques (including goldwork and three different beaded ropes) and a very wide assortment of new and vintage beads to make a classic, component based collar.  I was really happy with the finished result – it’s quite eyecatching!

So here it is – Ra, Roth and Khepri (Sun, Moon & Scarab)

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The wide collar section shows the day – Ra as the hot noon sun, with Khepri the scarab pushing the warm, coral setting sun and the cool, jade rising sun, connected by blue sky.

The strung blue sky continues into the counterweighting night section, with added ropes of golden stars supporting a deep hung pendant, showing the full and crescent moons of Roth on a goldwork barque.  

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Either Ra or Roth can be worn at the front, to suit your outfit (Roth looks amazing hanging above a backless dress).

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Materials – custom handpainted cabochons (by me); Swarovski, Preciosa & vintage crystals; vintage cup chain; Miyuki beads; Czech shaped beads; felt, ultrasuede; goldwork purls, leather, handmade gold hook clasps.

Techniques – bead embroidery, goldwork embroidery, peyote, netting, stringing, CRAW, DCRAW, DRAW.

Sadly no prize for me this year (but I’ve brought home a prize for the last two years, and hadn’t even entered prior to that so I really can’t complain) – you can see all of the amazing entries on the guild site here if you’re interested.  But I have a lovely piece, have worked out how to include goldwork techniques in bead embroidery, and have lots and lots of leftover components to make even more loveliness, including this necklace which is nearly done, so I’m going to count it as a personal win at least!

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New Cabs

I’ve just listed some lovely new cabs in my Etsy shop – I’m experimenting with listing these in a slightly different way. Each listing contains cabs poured in the same batch, using the same colours, so they compliment each other perfectly, and you can select one or more from the same batch by selecting the letter shown next to them in the pictures from the Etsy drop down. Price wise they are the same as they have been, but I’ve added a 5 for 4 offer so you can pretty much buy a set for the same discount as my pre-made sets, but still get to select what to put into the mix in terms of size, pattern, shape etc. The cheapest cabochon of each 5 will be the free one.

Each range is shown below – just click on the picture to open up the listing in Etsy. Prices range from £1 for the smallest teardrops to £5 for the huge 50mm rounds – all are completely unique (I couldn’t make another one the same even if I wanted to as the paints behave different every single time!).

Etsy can’t process the 5 for 4 at checkout, so I’ll be refunding it after purchase (when I pack up your order for despatch) – it’s also worth knowing that I’ve set the cabochons up so they are zero postage when bought with any other physical item from my shop (so you effectively only pay postage for the first item). Please note that the 5 for 4 offer, and free additional item postage only apply to the cabochons, not to my Materials Packs or finished beadwork.

Materials Packs for Sunstar

So I finally had time to put together some materials packs for my Sunstar brooch tutorial.  The tutorial uses basic bead embroidery to bezel a 30mm domed cabochon, and then add some amazing dagger beads to make a striking giant flower.  The finished piece was designed as a brooch, but also makes a stunning pendant, and the cunning brooch pin in these packs already has a bezel on so you can wear your finished piece as either a brooch or a pendant without any adjustments.

Three of the packs are based around my own hand painted cabochons, and also include amazing Czech etched beads – both seeds and daggers.  The etched daggers were the original inspiration for this design, so it’s been great picking the right colours for these packs, and it’s been even nicer getting to play with my Pebeo paints and custom make cabochons to compliment the daggers exactly.

Colourways are Vitrail dots (I mean how amazing are those dotty etched daggers, and though I say it myself the cabs are exquisite); Sliperit (etched Sliperit is my absolute favourite of these finishes, and I use it constantly so it seemed right to share), and Magic Apple (a partially transparent red and green finish, with metallics which was the first colourway I made this brooch in).

The fourth pack is based around some amazing matte canary yellow daggers, and my own hand made Liberty print cabochons, with this colourway guaranteed to bring sunshine into even the darkest day.  So you don’t feel left out of the etched bead side though, some of the seed beads in this set are etched too.

As well as the beads and cabochon, each materials pack contains Nicole’s Bead Backing as the embroidery foundation, Ultrasuede for the brooch backing, and the dual purpose brooch pin and pendant bail.  As with all of my packs, the tutorial needs to be purchased separately, and you will need to dig out your own beading needles, thread and some strong glue.  The tutorial and packs are available in my Etsy shop here.

Monet’s Garden at Giverny

This year for the Stitch n Craft challenge the theme was ‘Anything Goes’ – so no theme, no packs, no requirements, just enter something you’ve worked on this year that you’re proud of.  So I beaded away at a particular thread of an idea, and was getting really pleased with it when I realised it didn’t really meet a key requirement to use some beads bought from them.  Yes the core of the work used their beads, but the flashy bits, the visible bits were all from elsewhere.  So this didn’t really feel to me like it was entering into the spirit of the competition, so although I ‘d already paid the entry fee I decided to pause for a little think.

Whilst I was thinking (OK procrastinating) the theme was announced for another competition that fit my nearly complete piece perfectly.  In every other way that competition seemed like a better fit for it, so I decided to enter something else at Stitch and Craft instead – another one of my big bead embroidered necklaces perhaps, using beads that were definitely from them and some of my own cabochons?

Digging around I found a set of experimental cabs that I made in the early days using the left over paint mess from a salad spinner painting session with the boys.  Surreal but true.  The drips and dribbles gave an acrylic pour effect, and I’d even tried mopping up the excess paint from the side of the spinner by blotting, giving a lovely blotchy effect which I’d then used to make a huge 50mm cab.

The large cab made me think of Monet’s waterlily paintings, particularly those in the Orangery in Paris, where if you stand close the beautiful paints form gorgeous abstract patterns.  In turn that made me think of water, with silvery bubbles and that got me to my base colour scheme of silver, etched vitrail and metallic mint green (Miyuki 4214 and 4214F), and I started my usual process of pulling out a big range of beads to kick start the design process.  A stash search unearthed some vitrail ridged back cabs from The Old Bicycle Shop, and a wonderful crumple backed oval Crystal Electra geode cabochon from Stitch n Craft themselves.  The colours though were still a bit subtle, and I needed to call on more of the contrasting colours in the cabs and crystals, so I added some pink – not my usual fuchsia though, but a more subtle Swarovski Crsytal Peony Pink (again from Stitch N Craft).  And finally I spent some of my Beadworker’s Guild Founder’s Award prize money on some gorgeous Anna Bronze findings, this time in an antique silver finish, but repeating some of the organic shapes I’d used in that piece.  Then I got stuck in, using what is becoming a standard process for these type of pieces.

First I did a rough layout and photographed it, then rather than bezelling onto a single backing I bezelled each of the flat backed hand made cabs onto a separate piece of backing.  I do this because I find that adding the bezel changes the shape, size and overall appearance of the cab, and usually means I want to alter the layout significantly (usually to add more space).  I used a simple backstitch/peyote bezel – quick and secure, adding a picot to some but not all.  If you want to learn how to do a basic back stitch/peyote bezel then take a look at my SunStar tutorial which takes you through this technique.

Then I did the beadwoven bezels for the crystals and other cabochons – biggest first, then using a variant of whatever bezel I came up with for that one (with less repeats, or smaller beads) on the smaller ones to give a sense of continuity, and a repeat of the method I used on my Great Dixter necklace for the chatons.

Then I looked at layout again, adding the metal pieces, and did my trick of deciding on a shape based on a specific neckline – in this case I’m really glad because the original layouts had been for quite a shallow ‘v’ which wouldn’t have been great in wear.  Then I was ready to start attaching the bead embroidered cabs to a fresh base, using both glue and stitching (these are big cabs so it’ important to be secure, particularly if there is any flex in the finished piece as this could break the glue bond on bending).

Then I checked the layout yet again, working out how I would attach the bead woven cabochons (which sit up above the base and bead embroidered cabs, and where and how to attach the metal pieces.  This showed me what space to leave free, and where I needed to cover the base with bead embroidery – which I then did using simple stack stitch, and supplemented with some lovely Backlit Spectrum and Etched Vitrail 2 hole cab beads (in my head these were the bubbles in the water).  Next the attachment points for the straps (I didn’t complete the whole strap, as I wanted to check the length with the finished centrepiece, but I chose the beads, got it started and reinforced it repeatedly), and then finally I was able to secure the metal pieces and crystals.

At this point it was becoming apparent that the 50mm cabochon was pretty heavy.  Inevitably the bead backing is weakened as well when you stitch into it, so it was time for some serious reinforcement, sandwiching, glueing and stitching on additional sheets of backing, and even some flexible plastic cocktail sticks.

Of course those are hidden by the beading above, and the ultrasuede behind, so once that was on I worked on the edging, adding a picot to the focal cab and a simple sunshine edge to the remainder.

The neck strap of backlit 2 hole cabs was completed with simple loop and a vitrail Czech button from Snoochy, and then the whole thing was posted off to Dorset.

You can see all of the entries here on the Stitch n Craft website – in the end I was beaten on the day by Chloe Menage’s gorgeous bead embroidered headpiece, which she’d made for her own wedding.  However that’s not really why I enter competitions – it’s to stretch and challenge myself to do something original and ‘me’, and  I’m still really very pleased with this piece.  It’s the third I’ve made using this process (the first was my ‘Diva’, the second ‘Great Dixter), and each time it gets a bit easier, and a bit more enjoyable.  It was the last Stitch N Craft Beady picnic (and probably the last challenge) as they’re closing the studio to focus on mail order only, so as I’ve enjoyed them so much over the years I was really glad to be able to enter again this year, and I’ve got a lovely necklace to show for it too.