Thursday, 29 December 2011

Post-Christmas beading

I hope the Seasonal festivities left you rejuvenated and ready to go in 2012!

Once the preparation was all out of the way, I enjoyed seeing family and friends, and apart from a heavy cold (me) everyone seemed fit and healthy. Before Christmas, most of my beading was intended for presents with the exception of the Dragonfly necklace. I stocked up on some bead goodies in order to use the break productively. As I had to clear my beading table this meant smaller projects which could easily be contained in a case, and worked on without a large table surface.

My first project was Debbie van Tonder's Seahorse chart from her Etsy shop which requires only three colours of delica beads and is worked in even count 2-drop peyote. It was great fun to do even though charted designs are not my usual choice. I finished it with a Sterling silver sliding clasp:

My next project was a kit I ordered online on the 21st December and received the next day, perfect timing! The kit is from Heatherworks and is a little dimensional piece in the form of an owl. I thought the kit was well presented and the instruction booklet was pretty good too.

I think you might struggle a little if you were not familiar with all the stitches (peyote, netting, herringbone, RAW, and Albion) and working at this small scale can be quite tricky once the owl takes shape. My only real quibble is that the instructions for the eyes ask for an initial round of 11 silver beads in size 11, which were not supplied in the green colourway. I substituted the size 15 silver, but then had to alter the stitch counts to fit the central pearl. The outer round is to be 16 size 11 beads so several increases are required. I ended up swapping the pearls for slightly larger ones, making the inner round 14 beads and increasing twice, though perhaps an initial round of 16 size 15 followed by 16 size 11 would have been easier. I might experiment with this... The diagrams for the head show an initial round of 8 beads rather than the 4 stated in the written instructions (I followed the written version). Here is the work in progress:

The Owl is stuffed with wool, and once assembled is about 5cm tall:

 How cute is that? I will probably gift it to my Mum, as she loves owls!

Overall I am really happy with my Post-Christmas projects, thanks to these rather fabulous designs from Debbie and Heather

Monday, 19 December 2011

Dragonfly Necklace

Finally my Dragonfly takes wing! I completed a beaded toggle clasp (having tried a few now from Sandra D. Halpenny's book 'Crystal Lace Necklace Patterns' and Laura McCabe's instructions in 'Embellished Beadwork' I 'winged it' on this one and it seems to work well).

The braided rope has a tendency to twist in wear, but as it is for me I'll keep it as it is. I decided to make the fringe at the bottom fairly simple, with a little overlapping  part at the top to go with the Art Nouveau feel of the button itself. I tried leafy fringe but it was too full and heavy, and a very plain fringe was difficult to keep flat as it attaches through the right angle weave. This is actually a front and back row attached fringe, to save passing diagonally. The little drops at the bottom are green/brown picasso finish Czech drops which remind me a little of moss agate.

I feel a real sense of acheivement with this piece as I started with just the button for inspiration. Nancy Dale very kindly shared the construction of the braid, and Nikia Angel's Etsy shop was a source for the triangular Swarovski stones so I'd like to thank them both.

And the best part? Three more delicious buttons just arrived in the post from the US in time for me to play with over the Christmas break from work! I am a happy and lucky beader.

Saturday, 17 December 2011


You may recall, I joined a 'beadalong' on the Operation: Tackle That Bead Stash blog, to complete the Laura McCabe class project. The bracelet from the first class ('Stargazer') was completed from Laura's kit in Blue/Purple/Silver colour scheme. I also chose my own colours and this version is now also complete. I had to bite the bullet and buy a gold-filled clasp since silver didn't really go with the warmer palette, but I think the end result was worth it. You can find the blog here with a completed 'Treasure Locket' necklace by another beadalong participant, Gloria. This is still on my to-do list.

Here are the finished bracelets, mine has been simplified slightly and has already been worn to the Work Christmas Lunch.

For anyone interested, the bead colours are Miyuki 15s in gilt lined peach alabaster 579 and dyed SL wine 1428, Delicas in green patina iris 24, metallic plum 12 and matte metallic copper 1051, and Swarovski crystals in cyclamen opal (3mm bicone) and Colorado topaz (2mm round). Czech and Japanese Charlottes in gold were also used (these were bought from Laura)

Friday, 16 December 2011

The C* word

Yes, it's Christmas time, I am panicking and beading is, of necessity, taking a bit of a back seat. I have put aside a new beading pattern and the requisite beads as a treat to myself, once things are back under control!!.

I bought the lovely Seahorse peyote pattern from Debbie van Tonder's Etsy FunPatternDesigns and the delicas for it from Stitch'n'Craft. Here's a pic along with some round seed beads and Swarovski stones which jumped into the cart with them...

The greens were for part of my Dragonfly necklace which I need to move on with if I am to wear it on Christmas Day. Here it is in progress:

You can see the type of embellishment on the straps is minimal, really just to cover the joins. Once the straps are finished, I'll make a beaded toggle clasp and possibly fringe the centrepiece...time permitting!

Also on the agenda this week: shopping for more presents, cooking up some edible presents (cranberry cake, gingerbread, peppermint creams and fudge) and decorating the house and tree. Two more days of work still to go however, so I'd better get on!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Too many projects...

Last weekend I managed a fair amount of beading:

Finally made the tropical version of Holle Sauerwein's 'Flower Power', and the pink bag-charm version got restitched where I had a confused moment and snipped the wrong thread. I decided to try adding some Swarovski bicones to the new pendant flower centre, and am quite pleased with the result.

I also made another unit for the second Laura McCabe 'Stargazer bracelet', a pendant with a square rivoli (or squivoli as we call them), and bezeled a Czech glass dragonfly button. A mishap in cutting the shank off the button was cured by backing the button with ultrasuede. This also gave more depth to the lovely lustre lime colour. I have a special project in mind for that dragonfly!!!

Just wish I had time to finish all these projects, but some good progress at least!

Thursday, 17 November 2011


I can't believe I ended up with a CRAW rope 1 metre in was so soothing to do I just HAD to keep going! Here it is finished, with a Heart focal bead by Helen Mitchell at Lala Lampwork to match the round lampworked beads. The focal just squeezes through the end loop , and the rope can be worn with a short or long dangle. I've named her Serpentina as she definitely has a snake-like slither


And here is a close up of the focal to show the lovely swirl of colours and a dash of goldstone:

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The joy of colouring in

First of all let me show you the finished necklace I made with the Flower Power pendant!

I was really pleased with the cubic right angle weave rope, my first completed project in this stitch. I chose size 11 seed beads in colours to tone with the pendant, using the same frosted AB lilac from the pendant as the dominant colour in the 'bead soup' and just sprinkling other colours to taste. I estimate that there are about 6 colours in the mix in total, quite low for one of my mixes. If I am making a soup from a wider spectrum of colour I can generally use 20 or more different colours and finishes.

Colour is one of my great loves, and probably what drew me to seedbeads in the first many different colours and finishes are available. As a child I loved colouring in- outlines in colouring books (sometimes the line illustrations in my reading books -terrible behaviour!), doodle posters, graph paper (squared and isometric) and my all time favourite Altair design pads. The designs in these were developed by Ensor Holiday in (I think) the 1970s and are geometric patterns reminiscent of Islamic tiles etc. I was looking for a link to these following a discussion on Nikia Angel's sparkly geometric units, and found this Interactive Altair design site, which does mirroring, rotational symmetry and can shift hues as well. Give it a go, you'll love it, and so will your kids! Colouring in- in the computer age!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Subconscious Beading

This week, I made a new Facebook friend from Sweden via the OTTBS group. Her name is Veronica Jonsson and she was asking for ideas of jewellery to make and wear at an Arts event where she would be engaging with politicians, but not able to display her creations other than by wearing them. I took a look at her FB albums and ETSY shop and saw that she really likes the quirky side of beading, incorporating glass eyes and other objects.

Like many beaders, she sometimes makes items from patterns and I was taken with a flower pendant she had made which led me to download the original pattern for myself from Sova Enterprises. The Designer is Holle Sauerwein, website here, and the pattern is named Flower Power. I bought and downloaded the pattern which requires seedbeads (size 11 and 15) and cylinder beads (size 11) and immediately got to work.

Initially I intended to use 'tropical' colours but the pink (072) and Lustered red (1694) delicas I bought last weekend were on the table, as was a tub of 142FR size 11s which looked good together. I found the size 15 264 was a good match for these, and I had c-lon thread in a matching shade (haven't used c-lon for ages but my other threads were the wrong colour).

Here is the finished item with a bail. My advice if you buy this design is to keep tension tight and make sure the increase delicas are stacked properly. The written instructions are very clear, so otherwise I had no problem. The diagrams are also clear if you work better from those, showing 1/5 of the design (which you repeat to make the other 4 petals. ) The initial round of peyote is quite large, so you may like to use a support in the beginning (perhaps a cardboard tube, or in my case lipsalve tin which was the right diameter)

Why did I title this post 'Subconscious beading' ? It wasn't until I finished the flower and had attached the bail, ready to start on a rope for it, that I noticed that this would be a perfect replacement for my current bag charm, a Jean Power beaded star, which got trodden on and needs remaking:

So the question is: did I subconsciously select colours (to buy, and to use) which would be a great match for my bag,  or is it just happenstance?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Earring Swap

I've just received my OTTBS earring swaps, from Clare Thomas, and here they are:

The central blue beads in the brick stitched  circles are a perfect match in real life to the seed beads in the surround, but the flash makes them look different!
The purple floral earrings are from a design by Cynthia Newcomer Daniels called 'Dainty Dianthus' and are worked mostly in tiny size 15 beads. I love the way the flower and leaf nestle in the loop, a really unusual design.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Cubic Right Angle Weave

Over on the OTTBS, we have been very excited by the introduction of CRAW via this video tutorial by Bead Maven Heather Collin. Nancy Dale generously shared some of her secrets with this stitch as shown in her ColorPlay Rope necklaces in this Blog post

So I took the plunge and decided to combine a size 11 bead soup I had already matched to some lovely lampworked beads by Helen Mitchell at LaLaLampwork

Here are the first few inches of work, I found plenty of accent beads in the right colours, so I'm having fun with them experimenting every few rows with a new variant.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Day of the Dead

I thought I'd make a sugar skull inspired piece, for the Mexican festival Dia de los Muertos, I used a piece of heavy interfacing and drew a rough outline with pencil. The eyes are enhanced with a permanent marker in the grooves. I was spontaneous in the choice of beads and decided not to make this symmetrical, although as a skull has its own symmetry there was a limit.

I finished it as a hair accessory using a bought slide (barrette) which I glued and stitched to the ultrasuede backing. This was then glued to the embroidery, and trimmed. The edge was finished with brick stitch in size 8 seed beads. By attaching the barrette first, I think I get a firmer result.

Day and night earring swap

I mentioned before that I was participating in the OTTBS earring Swap and the theme was 'Day and Night'. Now my swap partner Clare has received the ones I made I can show them here!

The freshwater pearls in star shape were an obvious choice, I wanted the look of a shooting star!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Half Term Beading

Well my son is off school this week, so we went down to London to visit my Mum. Although she is hoping to sell her flat soon, so we had some house chores to do, we did get a little time out as well. On Sunday we went with Mum to the Globe theatre at Bankside where she works as a volunteer steward. There was an 'Autumn Plenty' event with a procession from the Globe to the nearby Borough Market...superb for foodies. We watched a bit of the performance by 'The Lion's Part' and shopped for goodies, many special apple themed. As it was a gorgeous sunny day we then walked along beside the Thames to Waterloo, crossed on the footbridge, and walked North to Covent Garden, where I was pleased to see a bead shop open! £50 or so on a selection of lovely Swarovski rondelles and bicones, and I was a happy beader.
The Copper Crystal rondelles were almost immediately used as embellishment on this lovely cabochon (Preciosa glass from Nikia on Etsy), but as it is quite large I can't quite decide whether to make a brooch or necklace with it

Monday, 17 October 2011

Orchid Necklace

Like many seed beaders, I have a love of big lampworked focals. Many of these live in a box waiting for the Muse to visit me. This one, on the other hand, spoke to me immediately, I knew I wanted to make a spiral rope for it with the appearance of a flowering vine, and to give the focal some naturalistic aerial roots, so yesterday I set to work. Remarkably the transition from my brain to the bead mat was fairly pain free, and the finished result is here:

I am so pleased that I managed to use this beautiful bead, and intend to wear it tomorrow!
Please take a look at Laney's other creations in her Izzybeads shop on Etsy

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Weekend Beading

Most of my beading is done at the weekend, as I work full-time, and can't bead when tired. This morning was gorgeous and sunny, and as my workspace is in front of the East facing window, it was a lovely welcoming space. So I beaded!

I have signed up to a 'goal' on the OTTBS blog of completing a Laura McCabe bracelet for my Mum's Christmas gift. My 'Bead Buddy' Jo suggested modifying the original design to leave enough left over beads for earrings and possibly a pendant, so that is the current plan. The design is the Starburst bracelet from the class we did (Jo was the organiser). This one is the colour scheme supplied by Laura as a kit in purple and silver, and I still have my own to finish but I'll do it later.

Today I also sorted seed beads to go with a lovely lampwork focal by Laney Mead at IzzyBeads I was delighted to find that Miyuki 2211 and 1931 seedbeads from my stash were a perfect match for the  very pale lilac and the deep rose pink

I've chosen matte green 2033 to complement these colours. I have in mind a spiral staircase rope and a tassel under the focal representing the aerial roots of orchids (though not completely realistically...they aren't very attractive!). Added to the mix, though I may not use them, are some Swarovski bicones in Rosewater, Violet, Cyclamen and White (all opal) and some Czech glass flowers and facets. The long olive bead is a Guterman, from the bargain bin at a fabric shop.

I also made 2 pairs of earrings for the OTTBS swap on the theme of 'Day and Night' but they can't be shown until they get to my swap partner. However, I was in the mood to make earrings so I kept going and made a nice pear for myself...or even a pair of pears!!

The drop beads were bought from Yashma Designs who has a lovely range of pressed and firepolished Czech beads. Coincidentally Yashma is the sponsor of this month's OTTBS moodboard, so I must remember to enter!

Sunday, 9 October 2011


One of the ways in which I try to increase my beading output is to participate in challenges. Whilst not being as nerve wracking as entering juried contests, there is a tiny element of competition, or at least comparison, with the other participants. I prefer those challenges with a fairly simple theme, such as a limited palette of colours.

For the last few months I have entered the 'OTTBS' or Operation Tackle That Bead Stash monthly moodboard challenges. This month's moodboard is Aqua, Red and White, a very Nordic feel. I have a red flower button which I'd like to use, however in a fit of enthusiasm I glued it to a piece of foundation intending to mke a hairslide/barrette. The question is: will I be able to salvage the button or should I continue with the hairslide, trying to use only the moodboard colours?

Here's a cuff I made in a similar range of colours, for another challenge on the theme of ' Mother Nature', with blossoms against a background depicting flood waters. This was my second ever piece of bead embroidery, and I still feel it is one of my best pieces. This challenge was from a member of the Bead Buddies forum, one of the first I joined

Friday, 7 October 2011

More Freeform

I received some more frames from Laura Zeiner so began work more or less immediately on a spring palette version
The back isn't quite finished but here is the rear view, to show the ultrasuede stitched in place
Laura was kind enough to say it reminds her of an Easter egg as designed by Monet, which is a fabulous description, and suggests far more intent than was actually there. I like the way freeform just grows from a random arrangement of beads on the mat. One day I'd love to make a bigger piece, but at the moment I have a pile of frames and ideas for a 'Summer' and 'Winter' version...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Non-allergic jewellery

I mentioned earlier that I was trying to make a metal-free jewellery gift for someone allergic to the usual metal findings. This bezelled rivoli pendant which I embellished with loops of seed beads and an inner row of picots was my starting point, but I was concerned about the metallic coating of the rivoli backing.

I thought of beading a comfort strip, as I have previously made for rings, but this was too bulky. Instead I cut a little circle from a scrap of ultrasuede to fit the existing bezel, and glued this to the reverse with a tiny amount of Bond 427 adhesive. I then added another row of size 15 seed beads to conceal the edge of the ultrasuede. Really neat finish, softened the point of the rivoli, and kept the metal away from skin...result!

The pendant was strung on a length of rat-tail cord with a sliding clasp of a peyote tube. Knots in the ends of the cord prevent the tube sliding off and the ends thread through in opposite directions. This finish is adjustable in length provided the tube is fairly tight and can be used for other stringing materials. I'm indebted to Donna Sanders of  Delicate Sparkles for this method, which she shared at the Bead Retreat we attended in May this year.

And the recipient wore the necklace for the whole day and did not come out in a rash!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mojo Regained

Seems like a Laura McCabe class is great for kick-starting a somnolent mojo! The classes (I did two) were the 'Stargazer Bracelet' and 'Treasure necklace'. Laura's projects are fairly complex and I only completed two bracelet and one necklace components, but as I opted to choose my own beads and made up the colour scheme as I went along, I was forced to be more creative.

As you can see, the palette I chose for both projects is fairly seasonal, reflecting the Autumn (Fall) colours which are beginning to appear.
I don't have enough delicas to complete the projects (not knowing which colours I would need beforehand) so I shall have to have some bead shopping therapy soon (poor me!)
As to the mojo, well it seems that actually beading is the key. Picking them up and making something suddenly raised a whole bunch of ideas and I have made a freeform pendant from the leftovers on the beadmat, using Laura Zeiner's tutorial and frame method : Stick Lizard Designs

And lastly, I even felt moved to blog... so all in all a better beady week for me!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Well, I seem somehow not to have published the last post, but things have been somewhat uneventful since then on the beading front. Probably because the real-life stuff has been dominating...back to school shenanigans (how do kids manage to grow so much over the Summer?) and a heavier work load after the week off. I have now decided to make a present for the girl who helped me out at work over the last 12 weeks. She was brilliant and so self sufficient I hardly had to supervise at all. Anyhow, they are keeping her for another 2 weeks before she starts her post-grad course, and as she is allergic to metal jewellery, I'm going to try metal free seed beading in the hopes she can wear it OK. I have used a rivoli in the pendant centre, so will try and cover the back with a comfort strip as per Laura McCabe's crystal book.

Monday, 29 August 2011

All the fun of the (bead)fair

Yesterday I was dropped off at the Stourbridge Bead Fair, whilst my husband and son went to Worcester for the Canoe meet. The fair was predominantly lampwork and findings, and the quality of beads on offer was amazing. Naturally I had to buy (rude not to) and managed to spread my spend amongst many talented lampworkers who I've previously met only on the internet! I indulged in a silver ring with topper  (By George, and Lush Lampwork) and some lovely beads by Jeannette Fletcher, Vickie (Beads 4 Breakfast), Laney Mead (Izzybeads)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Seeking beads

Going for a family trip to unknown bead territory, will be taking in the Bead Fair at Stourbridge so I expect to have several lovely lampworked souvenirs on my return, but who knows what other temptations I'll encounter?

Hopefully I'll meet some of the lovely beaders I've met in the ether, through beading forums, Facebook, on-line shops or blogs...

And then it will be back to the school term routine, albeit with extra beads to comfort me!