Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Finding colour inspiration

grown up fruit
Step 1, So you find a colour combo that makes your heart sing, but how to turn it into something beady?
I spotted this happy composition of fruit,
the bowl is a black and white 'hand made in the 1950's at an art school' lumpy thing, a charity shop find that I just love. Painted in a blue black glaze in swirls.
But less about my fruit bowl and more about the fruit therein.
Russet apples and black grapes still with the bloom on them, delush! (divinely lush or deliciously divine)?
Step one accomplished, colour inspiration.

Step 2, bead conversion!
The way to do it is pick out as many bead colours that you can find in your stash that match up to your source of colour inspiration, don't over think it, just grab and pile them up. You might find that there are subtle secondary influences going on too:
It just so happens that this autumn, all shades of mustard and ginger have hit the high streets and I find myself wearing mustard coloured jumpers with pale blue denim or adding a blue and turquoise scarf. Maybe the fashion world has nudged me to notice those colours more too.

Step 3, find a beading pattern and just go for it.
The pattern will have a list of how many colours are
needed, and which sizes of beads to use, so go through your newly piled up palette and pick out a combination to suit the pattern requirements.
This is the fun bit, and may take a while, but because you have a basic palette you know the bead colours will sit together. It's at this stage that I drift away from my original source of inspiration and let the beads do the talking.
For my Step 3, I thought, hmm, I would love me a bangle or two to slide on, you know, just to spread the bead happy up my arms. An evening of beading later and I have this zingy version of my City Bangle  match my new jumper. I didn't have any really dark blue/black beads, so I used a dark teal and a little bit of bright turqouise because the beads looked good together, then added a bit of 'warmth' with dark copper O beads along the edges.

Once you hit on a good combo, it's hard to stop at one!
I'd picked out quite a few crystals (hard to resist!) so as my bangle design didn't need them, I used a Minerva Spiral, and luscious lime Swarovski bicones became all mixed in with dark blue and dark copper coloured beads. I love this technique because you can throw just about any bead combination at it and it will work up into a gorgeous rope in no time.The more you vary the bead sizes, the more shapely the rope will become, just keep the sequence small to large and back again. The Minerva Spirals book was out of print, but we found a box full so they are now up on the website.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Old and new memory piece

When I started on this amazing beading adventure, the first ever beading book I owned and poured over was 'Beads, Make your own Jewellery' by Stefany Tomalin. It not only gave me my first lessons in knots and thread, but also a doorway into a world where Stefany lived, surrounded by beads and their history. Many moons later, and I will embarrass neither of us by revealing how many moons, I had the huge pleasure of meeting Stephany for the first time at a Bead Society event. It gave me pause to think about that younger self and how a first glimpse into the world of beads revealed my tribe to me. How I too now live surrounded by beads, enjoying the process of digging into the history of this amazing craft.
Stephany had recently been to Czechoslovakia and had a few treasures for sale, I bought some huge (3cm x 1cm) spike beads and resolved that I should do something with them. Here they are next to some regular old 17mm spikes.

A more recent memory was from earlier this year when I had great fun teaching at a beading retreat in Hilzingen, Germany. Andreina, one of the attendees, very kindly showed me the techniques with right angle weave and pinch beads that are hugely popular in Europe, because I fell instantly in love with a necklace she was wearing. With her consent I'll be sharing a few of my experiments in up coming workshops; which is why I was playing around with the techniques at the time that this particular design was happening.

Rummaging in my bead box I also came up with some ceramic spheres, these are sold in bags at garden centres, designed to be scattered in plant pots to hide the soil and keep in the moisture, and of course who could resist them in the perfect shade of turquoise?

Pinch beads are among one of the older established shapes of beads, much overlooked until recently, they've had something of a renaissance along side many of the new shapes of beads.

The whole mix was a soupy mess on my bead board for several weeks as I tried various combinations of components. This beadwork is quite chunky and as a result weighs some, so the final piece is a shortish necklace with an off set focal of bezelled spikes linked together with a bezelled gardeners ball. I don't know about you, but I find heavy jewellery irksome to wear, love how it looks, but not so much the headaches if I wear a heavy piece for too long. I've worn my new necklace a few times now and can report back that it behaves well on the neckline and definitely raises the odd eyebrow, which is a good thing, right?

But best of all it tells a story of my journeys and discoveries with beads and reminds me where I started. It speaks of how life and people move in circles that inevitably intersect. It's a design combination that shows how a little treasure from here and from there, will one day come together and become part of something else, and how sharing ideas is at the heart of beading, always.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Design anatomy

Sometimes it's just nice to sit and bead something just for me, sometimes it starts a chain of thought that I can use in class, other times not so much. The thing I wanted to bead most was a necklace using this beautiful stripy stone, a Zebra Stripe Agate, that I found way too tempting not to purchase at a bead show last year. It is in my favourite 'Sage smudge' green with striations of creamy white that glitter in the light when the stone is moved about. It had quite a big hole drilled in one end, which I thought I could cover up.
Although it was fun to do, quite a few evenings of beading and un-beading went into the final make up of the design, which I thought I'd share, just in case you feel like experimenting too.

First, I worked a bezel for the stone combining Peyote and Albion stitch, using colours picked out from the stone. I worked one side in matt beads and the other in a more translucent shiny bead. It became pretty clear that the hole wasn't going to be hidden by the beading, and I wanted to keep as much of the stone on display as I could. The other thing that I noticed, was that the hole was pretty sharp edged which (I can feel you nodding), is death to beading thread.

The stone was also quite brittle, and likely to be damaged with any metal findings. After a bit of pondering, I sanded out the hole a bit and glued a double delica in as a lining. Now I had a smaller hole with nicely rounded glass edges. Enter the metal finding I have no name for; and which I only
seem to be able to buy in Europe... a metal rod with round beads at each end, one of which unscrews.

I used right angle weave to make a stirrup shape, which took up the space left either side of the bezelled stone quite neatly. Then I got carried away and added a ring of beads. This proved too small to fit anything through it, but I kind of liked the textures and shapes,

Now I had a lovely kinetic pendant, the stone swivels smoothly on the metal rod, but with no means of attaching it to anything, other than to bead directly off the little ring with more right angle weave, which is just what I did, colouring the rope to mimic the patterning of the stone a little.

I made a second stirrup and ring arrangement to attach to the other end of the beaded rope. Then I realised that, oops, I'd need a break in the rope to be able to thread an end through the second stirrup.
So, finally, the bones of the design came together into an asymmetric lariat, which I can adjust, depending on which top I am wearing. I'm also really happy that one more stone is released from the 'one day when' box so I can enjoy wearing it.

Design update:
A slight problem, the gorgeous stone is actually quite weighty, on wearing the necklace I found myself in a gradual choke situation as the sliding stirrup slid a little until I was in danger of turning purple... back to the bead board and a couple of additions.
I worked units of raw on each face of the necklace part, and threaded on some little green jasper beads to link them, now I have two toggles that keep everything in place and the stirrup can't move beyond them.
Two? well one looked just plain odd, but a second one gave the design a little balance.

Monday, 20 July 2015

National Beading Week July 25th-August 2nd

 Thanks to a brilliant initiative by The Beadworkers Guild, we are getting ready to celebrate our first ever National Beading week here in the UK. It's a simple and wonderful new way to share the bead love and encourage the curious to come and find out more.

Bead groups up and down the country are planning bead events, parties and open days. Our LBS (Local Bead Shops), are hosting some inspiring drop in sessions and events with visiting artists. Groups are busy beading flags for bunting and there is even a plan to do some bead bombing with beaded chains.
To find out what's happening, download the free patterns and find your nearest LBS check out the National Beading Week website.

Meanwhile the Ambassadors for the event are busy spreading the word.  Jean Power has an ingenious mystery project you can join in and bead.  Patty McCourt launched a competition to bezel a NBW cabochon, and Kerrie Slade has spread the word in her Bead & Button blog . As a result our National is going International!

I'll be dropping in to the Stitch'n'craft picnic on August 1st to spend the day talking (and probably, definitely buying) beads, and being amazed by the entries to their annual beading competition too.

This cute ring pattern is my contribution to the fun, it only takes a few seed beads and a 6mm accent bead, so it's perfect if you have new beaders curious to have a go.

You can download the free pdf here. You are welcome to use the design for groups and NBW events too. Happy National Beading Week everyone!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Classroom colours

For students coming to class this spring and summer, here are the colour choices available as kits for the designs I will be teaching. All class kits contain everything needed except needles and thread.
Please allow for the limitations of screens as to the accuracy of colour. Please scroll down to find your chosen class colourways.

Left: Toast. Centre: Ocean. Right: Charcoal.
Makoda, the spinning pendant of tranquility.

Left: Leaves. Centre: Violets. Right Sunshine.

Harlequin,  the colourful and fun lariat.
Left: Silver. Centre: Copper. Right Gunmetal.
 MoonGazer Masterclass
Left: Silver white. Centre  Iridescent green. Right: Ginger gold
(Hilzingen only)

Bethany, an Elizabethan inspired necklace
Far left: Silver violet. Centre left: Gunmetal turquoise.
Centre right: Gold ocean, Far Right: Copper plum

Merry Go Round bracelet
Left: Erinite Gold. Centre Tanzanite gunmetal.
Right Topaz copper.

MoonStar crystal pendant
Left: Muscat and copper.
Centre: black and pewter.
Right Eggplant and purple

Spinning Wave