Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Here's Halloweeeeeen

image from Sweetly Scrapped,
 a lovely store, go see gorgeous things
Love it or hate it we are now well and truly suckered as far as 'Trick or Treat' goes. Today I saw, in our local supermarket, a black plastic begging bowl complete with 12inch high articulated (glow inna dark) skeleton with nylon batwing cloak... fergdnessakes!  Now forgive me, but this sucks on so many levels! Not so long ago (I use that term advisedly), we would cook up some Parkin (flapjack), dad's famous dental filling removing treacle toffee and spend the afternoon making paper witches hats, big bro would put his trusty boy scout penknife to work on a turnip (yes, we didn't grow pumpkins much then), and come nightfall and accompanied by the smell of candle singed turnip we would run around the garden and a modest bonfire, to shout away the bad things. One or two neighbourhood kids occasionally joined us... but we would never ever have been allowed to knock on doors and beg for sweets with or without menace!

From a young age we understood the meaning of this night of misrule, the time when the dead might return, the time to trick and ward off any malevolent spirits by dressing in disguise. We could sing the Soul cake song, accepted as natural the far back in time meaning of summer's end, of harvest and storage and firelight against the long cold dark to come.

Now, in my neighbourhood the parents have given in, but in rather a lovely way as they all dress up, from toddlers to mums and dads and come round en mass at about seven in the evening. Just like on Wassailing night... (We serve cider and cakes, run through houses waving greenery and eventually come to a standstill around an apple tree and sing the wassail songs whilst deeply inebriated)... it's OK to let it be known that you'd rather not join and the band of witches will rustle on past to the next house.
I'm happy to hand out a pile of sweets, MWAHahahahaa! but not so happy that most of these little ones have no idea of their rich pagan heritage.

Time Traveller's Compass in metallic plum
OK so to celebrate the gothic mood I put a new colourway of my Time Traveller's Compass kit into the shop, it's a lush mix of murky "Celsian' green and darkest metallic plum. I love the mix so much I made myself a necklace, added another link with more spikes on and take delight in feeling everso slightly subversive and gothic.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The first scent of woodsmoke

Busy creating a masterpiece in the Autumn sunshine
The first wisps of woodsmoke, the scent of chill brought indoors in the folds of a coat and Autumn is come upon us. This morning I found this masterpiece half way through production across the gate.

It looks like a little thing across a leafy hedge, but actually MUCH bigger, those leaves in the background are Whitebeam trees standing about 20 yards away (the leaves are each about 10 inches across).

As to the change in seasons, I hate to admit but now it is here, Autumn is welcome. It is kind of a relief to have such a long rain sodden summer behind us, to accept that one's spirit can stand down from hoping for a warm and sunny day!

Autumn sun is still profoundly cheering and I'm trying to make the most of what sunshine comes (usually done by eleven and setting in for rain thereafter). I have some plans for the garden which has got very overgrown, and in theory am starting at the top and working my way down, bed by bed and border by border... should take all winter at this rate!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Spilled ink and old wood

Original Nouveau Droplet necklace in
Atlantic Wash, with a second colourway
called Firecracker in the background
One of the immense delights of being a teacher and seller of my patterns, is seeing them made up and being worn by a satisfied student or customer, there is no greater complement.
For me, the joy is even greater when I see that my suggestions for playing with colour have inspired too. My beadwork patterns deliberately don't give any bead colour codes (gasp!). Firstly because not all beaders will be able to source the same beads, (certainly more true when I started than perhaps now that beads can be bought on line). The second reason though, is more sneeky on my part, because I really want to encourage the creative process and get everyone to feel they can play with colour. In class it is always great fun to see the different colour stories, each an inspiration and often the source of unplanned bead buyingas I am tempted by yet another lovely mix.

The most delicious interpretation
of  Nouveau Droplet
I was busy on such a buying mission the other day when a fellow addict leaned over and revealed a Nouveau Droplet Necklace in the smudgiest, dark ink spilled on an old desk loveliness of a colour mix. It made me think of 17th century interiors, oak gall dyes, candle lit wooden panels and worn metal sconces; great colour mixes start their own stories, which is why I find sharing colour ideas such a magical exchange.
Happily she was willing for me to photograph her creation, shown here against the nearest prop we could find in the store, a stack of baskets!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Victoriana in Bead magazine

now that the latest issue of Bead magazine is on the news stands I can show and share the Victoriana floral locket. To create this Winter special magazine, Chloe the Editor invited designers to be inspired by an era, and I got Victorian.. which as y'all know is a perfect fit as I love all things vintage inspiration. I used my oval acrylic windows as templates and took the prettiest snippets from scans of old postcards which were saved by my Grandma. Pretty postcards like these were often posted in the morning and arrived by lunch time! I have one which was an invitation to afternoon tea that very same day, a testament to the power of a penny stamp and a great organisation; I guess they are also the forerunner of our emails and text messages.

Two Victoriana Lockets for Bead magazine
My 'Locket' has room for two images sandwiched between  acrylic windows, so is completely reversible. The project in the magazine give instructions for the embellished bezel, bail and a dainty beady ring, through which you can thread some ribbon to finish off the vintage look.

If you don't have vintage post cards, there are lots of on line sites offering free or very reasonably priced down loadable images, You can also spend a small fortune and many happy hours in craft stores choosing papers and ephemera in the papercrafting section.
Make a matching birthday card and gift
I admit happily to being utterly charmed by anything that is made personal, such as home made greeting cards and small hand made gifts. These will win my heart every time, so I'll definitely be using this design for some presents.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

textured tale

It is no secret that I love all things textile as well as beady, my little book on Loom Weaving is popular with beginners wanting to explore this traditional blend of textile and beading techniques.
I think if you love any craft it is inevitable that the tools to go with it somehow proliferate without you noticing. A quick check reveals that I have six different types of bead loom, plus another three that my lovely dad has made for me over the years. (are you picking up on my autumn cupboard clearing vibe?)
One had the beginnings of a Kerala Bangle on it. This is a loom workshop I have taught many times and continue to offer, I love it because it enables students to explore a loom with a whole mix of materials and really get to know the different processes. It is also a great way to develop a feel for thread tension in a way that won't mess up a carefully counted pattern if you don't hit perfection on day one! and a great way to teach the best ways to work a huge range of techniques in one piece.
last of the summer' Nasturtiums

First, gather together a pile of embroidery threads, flosses, yarns and fibres, some beading thread, seed and accent beads. This part can be a glorious adventure in colour, just heap together your faves and play with the pile until you have a mix you love... or pick out the colours from a picture for inspiration, like this snap of the very last of the Nasturtiums in the garden (I sense a garden tidying session coming on.. what is it about autumn and the need to sort things out and get them straight!).
Or, you can cheat and buy a ready mixed pack of dyed threads (of which I have too many, picked up as impulse buys at shows... oh such clever tempting packaging!)
Section showing woven  thread and
beading on the same warp threads

Next, warp up a loom with beading thread, then get weaving.
Here is a picture of the sample still in the loom which, incidentally, I must get round to finishing; which starts with finding the bag of threads to go with this UFO.
I like to start with a section of old fashioned over and under weaving with embroidery thread, this creates a firm  selvedge, and sets the colour mood.
Next add some bead loom weaving. Keep changing the weaving process, the bead types, weights and textures of fibres and threads. I also like to embellish some of the beady sections, or you can weave in some apertures.
It really is an open invite to have a small scale creative party!

Stack of Kerala Bangle
To finish, weave into a bangle by finishing both sets of the warp threads through the weaving at the opposite end. For a more snug bracelet, end with a second selvedge, then finish the warp ends at each end. Create a sewn fabric clasp (snap fasteners are perfect) or a metal bracelet end, of the kind designed for ribbons.

For a final flourish, add a beady edge, for me it tidies up the transitions between the techniques, and can be anything from a simple whip stitch with a bead on, to a netted edging.