Bubblelicious

When I started this blog I made a few rules for myself.  One of them was to try to use photos taken on my phone, so that I was just capturing the work I’d done without having to set up for ‘proper’ photography.  In my shops  all the photos have been taken ‘properly’ as I think it’s important for customers to get the best possible reproduction of what they are buying, and I want to be able to show levels of detail only possible with a macro lens.  When I take the ‘proper’ photos I use our digital SLR, macro lens and big sheets of white or black mounting board propped up in our front room window – the translucent window film which stops the neighbours seeing the mess inside gives a lovely diffuse natural light.  For the blog I want more spontaneity, and definitely don’t want to wait weeks for that elusive couple of hours with no little people.  When I take photos for the blog or Facebook it’s usually with my iPhone, against whatever plain background I can find and with the closest to natural light I can get – I’m after speed rather than fabulous quality, but so far I’ve been really impressed with the photos I’ve taken.  Last year I particularly enjoyed being able to shoot my Fortuneteller on the lovely slate tiles in our back garden,  with nasturtiums behind. However, in the depths of winter, I’ve really struggled – so although I finished my Bubble Ball before the New Year, I’ve only now had the time to get the big camera out and take some pictures for you.

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The Bubble is another piece from Sabine Lippert’s new book ‘Beadwork Evolution’ and it was the piece I wanted to make the most when the book arrived.  I only had the twelve chatons required in a couple of colours, and although I thought I had lots of drops, only one set matched, so I’ve ended up with a combination which makes the finished ball look quite different to Sabine’s.  Black, though versatile isn’t a favourite colour for beading, and it is tricky to photograph.  That said, I still love it, and the drops I used are just stunning and I think they really make the piece even though it’s not as bubbly as Sabine’s.

Recipe

  • Sabine Lippert’s Beadwork Evolution – page 133
  • Chatons & Bicones – Swarovski Fuchsia
  • Drops – Hybrid Jet Sliperit – from Beads of Bohemia via Etsy
  • Seeds – Black Miyuki
  • Fire polished – Black Czech

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Tips & Lessons learnt

  • Watch your tension – as usual with Sabine’s stuff you need to stay nice and loose.  Which is the opposite of my normal tension……….
  • It does turn into a bit of a needle bender towards the end so be prepared with a good light and some tweezers.  And perhaps don’t use your very best needles?
  • I kept forgetting to do step 4 again and again. Don’t do that.
  • Whilst the sliperit drops are incredible, I paired them with black beads as that seemed best.  And I normally avoid black beads like the plague – they hurt your eyes and a pig to photograph.  They also mean that a lot of the detail of the construction is lost and I think that’s a shame.
  • Because I couldn’t tell how much the Fire Polished beads in the core would be seen I opted for black there as well, and although the finished piece is very wearable it might pop a bit better with some contrast – perhaps a copper core or even perhaps a black core with copper seeds?
  • Sabine again matches the chaton and crystal colours – I think that works really well, but would like to see what happens to the shapes with an alternative (particularly if I used a lighter chaton colour than the crystals).
  • It took me about four hours to finish (including a lot of colour faffing) – I’d expect to be quicker next time, so would fit into a few evenings nicely.
  • For my next version Stitch N Craft have some of the drops in Crystal Sliperit, and as I also have some Piggy Beads in the same colour waiting to be used I think I might get some for another version, as the crystal will be more ‘bubbly’.  Not sure what colour chaton to use with them though, so can’t quite work through all the beads needed…….
  • Or I ought to really try it with the translucent drops Sabine used – I’ve done an order since I made this so I have some more ‘bubbly’ ones in my stash now.
  • Either way this seems to be very much like a design I’ll make lots of versions of, so you’ll be seeing it again soon!

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Materials Packs for Baroque Tape Measure Surround

Just a quick post to let you all know that I’ve put together some materials packs for the Baroque Tape Measure Surround.  Two colourways which I’ve beaded up previously, including the original Bronze & Fuchsia, plus two completely new colourways never yet made, so they will be completely unique.  They are available here on Folksy (Bronze & Fuchsia; Bronze & Capri Blue; Silver, Red & Turquoise, Gold & Scarlet) and here on Etsy.  For choice I’d love it if you used Folksy as they are very nice and I’m really, really upset with Etsy about their behaviour to sellers around the whole EU VAT thing…… more about that another day.

Baroque Tape Measure Surround 2

Now I’ve got a good stock of tape measures and those elusive 2.8mm drops I’m more than happy to put together custom materials packs for you – just drop me a message/comment with a colourway request and I’ll have a beady play.

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Although these are listed for UK sales only, I’m happy to discuss and set up overseas postage – be aware that now I’m back at work I can’t get to the Post Office as easily for overseas posting (for UK posting I’ve carefully planned these as letter post size to avoid that trip), but if we have a chat I can let you know what to expect.

Tiles on a Ring Pendant

Well the book arrived two days ago and I got stuck straight in. Luckily I have a good stock of chatons, because this book is going to munch them up. For choice I would have made the Bubble Ball Pendant first because it’s my favourite, but I had the right beads for Tiles on a Ring so I dived in. It went together beautifully – Sabine’s designs are always so simple, whilst looking amazingly flamboyant. Around three hours in total, so an excellent weekend project.  It uses a RAW base with a 3D netted embellishment to form the cups and frames for the chatons, and I’d say it’s suitable for intermediates.

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Recipe

Sabine Lippert’s Beadwork Evolution p99
Seeds in 401FR Matte Black AB 11 and 15
Matte purple iris fire polished
Fuschia Swarovski bicones and chatons

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Tips
I got the colours wrong – the fire polished beads are too different in colours from the seeds, and because the seeds and the firepolisheds are next to each other rather than used together it makes the firepolished ring look a bit disconnected. A shiny finish might have worked, or blue iris to match the seeds. This is a shame as I’d chosen the combination to go with the Baroque Dimensional Bracelet I made a while back.

Use the same colour of bicones and chatons – that will give you lovely squares of bling, and you’ll loose those squares if you don’t match them.

As with all of Sabine’s pieces a relaxed tension really helps – I have to make the effort to remember this one!

 

Beadwork Evolution – Sabine Lippert

At last it has arrived after a frustrating wait …….. And it’s fab! Some very Sabine stuff, and some slightly different stuff so a good mix.  Cue a happy evening looking through my stash and choosing what to make first (interspersed with sulks when I don’t quite have the right beads). One of the 3d balls from the last chapter probably, if I have enough chatons. Watch this space.

Glue

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………

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Recipe
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

Method
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).

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Tips
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…….

And another one……

Since I had the pliers out yesterday I finally got round to adding a clasp to a Sabine Lippert piece I finished beading a while back.  It’s a Baroque Dimensional Bracelet and  instructions are available for download from her website, and the simplicity and repetition made it a really lovely piece to make – but of course as with all Sabine’s pieces it looks absolutely amazing.  It curves beautifully – both around the wrist and across the width of the piece, making it seem lovely and fat and chunky.  Very pleased with this one.

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Recipe

Fire polished beads 4mm  Matte purple iris (from Etsy More Beads4U)

Fire polished beads 3mm Purple iris (from Robins Beads)

3.4mm drop beads Miyuki 401FR Black Matte AB (from Stitch N Craft)

Size 11 & Size 15 seed beads Miyuki 401FR Black Matte AB (from Stitch N Craft)

Fireline 6lb

Silver magnetic clasp, jump rings.

The Miyuki Black Matte AB are a current favourite as they are a kind of navy blue base, and I’ve not been able to find another good match for navy.  For some reason I am wearing a lot of navy at the moment and it is certainly easier to work with than straight black.

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Tips

  • I did 30 repeats as per the instructions, and it fits very nicely.  The finished beadwork measures 20cm (without the clasps) although do bear in mind I am quite a tense beader.
  • On that note, relax, relax, relax your tension, particularly for the base layer.  For me that means beading in a way which felt baggy, floppy and downright messy, but you need plenty of give in order to add the embellishing layers.  This is common with embellished RAW pieces.
  • Otherwise as usual Sabine tells you everything you need to know……..

Next steps

Another good relaxing project, like the Faux Cro, I’m definitely going to make another one of these when I have assembled enough Fire Polished beads (it does use quite a lot).  Perhaps this time I’ll go a bit wilder with the colours (I’m thinking some sort of outrageous red, pink and orange with lime highlights again).  Or perhaps something bright but wearable instead.

And I’ve got the pattern for Sabine’s Tweed bracelet to do as well yummy yummy.  Sabine has also put together some beautiful kits, and one day I will definitely treat myself……..

 

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A quick comment about ordering from abroad before I get told off for listing MoreBeads4U:    I usually try to stick with local suppliers – although sadly I don’t have any ‘normal’ bead shops selling teeny beads locally, I use UK mail order shops where possible (mainly Stitch N Craft and Robins Beads).  However wonderful they are though, it isn’t possible for them to stock absolutely everything I need, and I have now found (through Etsy) a super supplier in Latvia for Czech beads (links above) – reasonable and prompt postage, and pretty much every colour and size of fire-polished beads I could want, competitively priced.  So while I continue to use and support my lovely UK suppliers when they sell the colours and shapes I need, and will always look here first, I do sometimes have to go elsewhere.  I don’t take this lightly, as shops like Stitch N Craft are so wonderful for the beading community – their class programme is probably the best in the world, they are very supportive of the Beadworkers Guild and bead groups and their range is absolutely wonderful.  So their website will always be the first one I go to so that I can support them in return.

Of course one day I will open my own bead shop, sell everything I want and consequently go bankrupt in a year.  But it will be fun.

 

Faux cro rocks!

For several years I have been eying up the photos on Jean Power’s website of her ‘faux bead crochet’ bangles. Now I love the appearance of bead crochet, but I’ve had several goes at doing it which have always ended in tangles, uneven work and tears. I’m sure it’s lovely and quick once you are expert, but for me it is incredibly slow, and combined with the absolute tedium of threading all the beads on before you even start I feel it’s not for me. However it does make the most beautiful beaded ropes, so a fake version using beadweaving techniques I’m familiar with seemed worth a try. Staring at Jean’s photos repeatedly over many years sadly did not reveal her secret, and though Jean has been teaching it as a workshop I’ve never been able to go. So when her recent newsletter announced she’d released a tutorial I grabbed one straight away (the joys of instant downloads). Reading through revealed I had been a numpty, as her solution is elegantly simple, but there is much in the tutorial that I would never have worked out even after years of playing, particularly the joins, so it was well worth the money to skip the experimentation and go straight to a very refined solution. All I need now Jean is to work out how to split the rope into two or three so I can do branches please?

Anyway I’ve made so many bangles lately that I thought I would instead make something more like a lariat, but I ran out of beads (poor planning) so I’ve made a short rope with increases at either end to form frilly cones (a la CGB 1 although using Jean’s stitch with increases, not their technique as it didn’t really work for me).  I then threaded a wire through the middle so the piece can be sculpted into a choker, bracelet, whatever. The simplicity of the design and technique made it a very relaxing, stress busting kind of piece to make, so I think I will be using this technique again soon.

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Recipe

  • 20g of red striped frosted crystal size 8 seed beads – mine were from Beadworks
  • 1g of opaque scarlet miyuki size 8 seed beads – 407 from the Bead Merchant
  • Red miyuki KO thread
  • 65cm 1mm silver plated wire

Tips

  • Read the instructions all the way through. Jean explains the theory as well as giving step by step instructions so you will be better equipped to improvise and add your own touches, as well as to complete the projects she details.
  • If you are not used to the basic stitch Jean uses, do a flat square sample first so you can get your technique (particularly tension) sorted.
  • Use big beads. There are some extremely beautiful bead crochet works out there using teeny weeny beads, and this technique will undoubtedly work extremely well for those, but you need to practise first. I would definitely heed Jean’s advice and start with 8s.
  • Make sure you have enough beads as this lovely speedy technique will munch them up quite quickly – 20g made a 5 around rope (probably the thinnest you can do with size 8s) 70com long.  So I’d reckon at just under 30g for a 1m rope which would make a versatile long necklace or lariat, and you should get a bangle out of the standard 6g tube of 8s.   You can always do a sample of say 10cm and then weigh it to estimate.
  • The slightly more organic appearance of crochet or faux crochet with 8s means this is a really good way to use up those beautiful but sadly wonky and uneven seed beads you bought all those years ago before you discovered the easy uniformity of Japanese beads. And you can also use the beads you bought for kumihimo but couldn’t use because the holes were too small for the bigger working thread (although you can use thicker threads for this technique and make a feature of them if you want, just like bead crochet).
  • Wiring the piece allows me to sculpt it each time I wear it – it would look very nice with the wire poking out and drops or rizos dangling from jump rings attached to a loop at the end

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What’s next?
In theory you can use this technique for any bead crochet type piece – there are some amazing patterned ropes out there and I can’t wait to try.   Have a look at my Faux Cro Pinterest board for some ideas if you’re interested.

I’d also like to try working round a core of cord or tubing so that I can tie on and bead over some feature beads, and I will have to find some quiet time and work out how to split the rope so I can do branching designs.

Telling fortunes

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.

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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……

Babies and beading don't mix
Recipe
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).

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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.

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What next?

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?

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Curizo

I love Sabine Lippert‘s work – the techniques she uses are incredibly clever but often simple to bead, and the results are wonderfully exuberant, beadtastic pieces.  When she created her Rizo beads a while back I bought a copy of her Curizo design so that I could use them in the way she’d intended, and I fell in love with it.  So much that I made another, and then when I needed to put something together in a hurry  for a wedding this weekend, another.  They’re quick to bead – 3-4 hours for me, and use my current bead binge favourite chatons.  And I love them, and other people love them (although the smallest boy sadly loves them so much that he bust the chain on the white one last week).

Recipe

Turquoise – Opaque turquoise rizos, opaque olive 3mm fire polished, crystal AB Swarovski chatons and 3mm bicones, silver duracoat miyuki seeds.

White – Opaque matte white rizos, opaque lime 3mm fire polished, sunflower Swarovski chatons and 3mm bicones, silver duracoat miyuki seeds.

Grey and Opal – Brown Iris Matte rizos, silver 3mm fire polished, white opal Swarovski chatons, white opal czech small teardrop beads.

Tips

I don’t have many tips for this one, it’s really very lovely to bead and works perfectly.  I quite like to thread the chain or cord through the whole finished piece (as I did with the white and lime version), although that then leaves you with quite a short piece.  For the grey and opal version and the original turquoise I’ve added a loop – the former needs to go with a specific dress with quite a low neckline, so long was the only option.

If you’d like some matching earrings like my turquoise ones, simply complete the flower shape and capture the chaton, then add a loop to hang.

Variations

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For the final version, in the step where you would add fire polished beads and crystals I simply used fire polished, and then in the final joins I put Czech drops where the fire polished would have been.  I did this because I didn’t have any 3mm bicones in the right colour (and have bought far too many beads lately so didn’t want to buy any more).  On reflection the drops don’t really go with the rizos I used, and the cube shape is more visible (the others look more like a ball which is easier to wear), so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this variation.

And next…..

Some lovely Heliotrope chatons have just arrived from the States, and I’ve got some fab neon Rizos (Robin’s Beads), and neon fire polished beads (More Beads 4 U – Etsy) – quite a flambouyant Curizo this time.