Well the results of the Stitch N Craft Four Seasons Challenge are out and sadly no win for me. Above you can see Thomas modelling all four seasons at once, below some more detailed shots.
But never mind, I made some fun pieces and rather wonderfully, my sister Susie Hoad, who I taught to bead a few years back, won the intermediate class. I am immensely proud of her, she has learnt so much since those first rows of peyote and really seems to enjoy it. And as a thank you for the introduction (and the extra beads I gave her for the Winter piece) she is going to buy me a Thread Zap 2 with some of her prize vouchers,so I will never have to sharpen my Fireline blunted scissors again. Happy, happy, happy, happy……
Last week was our annual holiday with my extended family in North Norfolk. The boys had a wonderful time on the beach with their cousin and grandparents, and in a few rare quiet moments we managed some beading. Here you can see me in blue stripes whizzing up some more feather earrings for the shop, my nephew Ben loom banding (nearly beading), and my little sister Susie (who I taught to bead a few years ago) making a series of CRAW loops which she eventually looped together using a loom band technique to make a fabulous bracelet. Later on in the week I finally plucked up the courage to commit to a Zig Wing Bangle (from Contemporary Geometric Beadwork) and it’s going well – piccies soon.
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
A productive few days tidying up unfinished work and trying out ideas.
The bangle is a play on a Cellini spiral using some bigger beads – over 4cm at its’ widest it is good and chunky and fun. It took rather a long time to finish, largely because I kept running out of the larger beads. One important job (as well as photographing it properly and listing for the shop) is going to be to work out how many I actually used to avoid that problem next time. I have a plan for something even bigger in a rainbow of opaques, a bit like the Bright Star. Once the beads are selected the spiral stitch is very repetitive and restful, a nice change from more complex and creative work, so could be a good one for our next holiday.
The earrings are an exaggerated version of a basic brick stitch triangle with fringing – but again they are big and bold, scaled up to 12cm long. This gave me space for lots of different shades and makes me think of a firebird. I’ll try these again as well, like the spiral they are simple enough to be relaxing to make, but unlike it they take hours rather than months to complete. I think a dig around in my crystal stash could give some interesting additions as well. If only I didn’t have a small person who grabs everything he sees (glasses, hair, jewellery), then I could actually wear them……..
And finally I had another go at my ‘Saturday afternoon necklace’. Nearly right this time so I’ll tell you all about that soon. And I finished something else at the weekend but I honestly can’t remember what. I’ll blame the hot weather and the four teeth the baby is cutting for the epic memory failure.
Last year as part of the Stitch ‘N’ Craft Chatelaine Challenge I made a tape measure cover, and I was so pleased with it that I’ve now written it up as my very first tutorial. My lovely sister Susie has tested it out, and my lovely husband David has helped me to make the file small enough, so it’s now available as an instant download through Etsy. I hope shortly to get some kits listed as well.
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.
‘Amphora’ – Marcia DeCoster’s Beaded Opulence page 107
Shibori Ribbon in ‘Fallen Apple’ by Shibori Girl (Stitch & Craft if you’re in the UK, or available through her Etsy shop and from other US suppliers if you’re elsewhere).
Beads (seed all by Miyuki, from Stitch ‘n’ Craft of course)
- A (11), F (15), G (8), H (drops, substituted for 8s) – 2035 (Matte Metallic Khaki Iris)
- B (11) – Custom Coated Vintage copper, also used instead of 15s around the Drops in step 3 above rows 6, 7 & 8)
- C (3mm FP) – Brown Iris (Robins Beads)
- D (3mm pearl substituted for bicones) – Copper I think (Robins Beads)
- E (3mm FP substituted for bicones) – Matte Copper (Etsy – MoreBeads4U)
- Tension in first layer needs to be pretty loose.
- 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.
Not the weather (although it does seem to have been and gone already), but the summer element of my Stitch ‘n’ Craft Challenge entry. It’s taken longer than I had hoped, and as has happened with previous elements has rather taken over my beading time, so I am relieved to get it done. I have so many other projects stacked up in my head, and so little time to do them (not helped by the baby coming down with chicken pox). Stitch ‘n’ Craft is my favourite bead shop – great beads, light speed service and lovely people. I first entered the challenge last year, largely to force myself to do some wholly original work, rather than just using other ‘ patterns and ideas, and it gave me a lot of confidence. I’ve even produced one of the elements as a tutorial (hopefully available for sale soon, once dearest husband teaches me how to make the file smaller). New ideas blossom out of the stretching work, but the trouble is there’s no time to work on them. I’ve taken to keeping a notebook (as recommended by all proper beaders), so I hope that I don’t loose those ideas.
This year’s challenge features four pieces, one for each season. Each season has a set palette, and must incorporate elements provided, so is a real push creatively. All of the seasons have included elements I’d never normally choose to work with, and colour palettes that I’m not used to – I think the latter has been the greatest challenge as I’m somewhat of a creature of habit where colour is concerned, but I’ve come to enjoy some of the new palettes, and can’t wait to work some more in the winter scheme in particular which was completely new to me (and caused much bead buying). The pastel shades of summer have been surprisingly uncomfortable as well, and with lots of green in Spring too I’ve been stretched (I love lime green – Miyuki Zest Duracoats are the best beads ever, but I rarely work with other shades).
Anyway, Summer and Winter are complete, Autumn is beaded and just needs making up, and then I must dash through Spring if I’m to finish by the end of July. So I need healthier children soon………
I found some wonderfully wierd rondelles in my local bead shop. They’re rondelles, but have a strange matt rubbery coating, rather like ‘soft touch’. The colours are very vivid, and they make a lovely change from conventional crystals. I’m using them for a bangle I’ve made before – Jean Power’s Affinity Bangle, but having made a couple of samples I can’t quite decide which size of seed beads to use. She suggests 11s and 8s, so I started with those in a matte black using the fuschia rondelles. But they seem a bit small, so I’ve also tried 8s and 6s in copper with the lime rondelles. But they seem too big. It could well be that the colours and finishes are affecting the appearance – the matte black beads shrinking away and the coppers shining and seeming larger than life, but the trouble with beading is that it takes so long to complete a piece that you don’t want to spend time until you’re happy. Dearest husband thinks stick with the black, which is good as I have the beads already (always helps), but the 8s and 6s will make a gloriously chunky piece (very Suzanne Golden). Ah well, I need to knuckle down and get on with ‘Spring’ so I shall put them aside for now and get on.