Saturday, 29 December 2012

Sugar Rush!

Well this is nearly the end of the year, so time for just one more blog post...

Just before Christmas, I thought I was pretty much beaded out, from making gifts and items for fairs...Then Nancy Dale produced a Christmas Cracker of a tutorial for an embroidered/freeform cuff, and I couldn't resist! Immediately the pdf landed in my inbox, I was mixing soup and selecting focals, I chose a lovely piece of etched dichroic glass which looked like opal, by Silvermoonlyn as the central item and this is the soup mix:

I also had a couple of vintage glass square cabs with an opal effect so they became the secondary focals, and I began by fixing them to some of Nicole's bead backing in pink. The bead embroidery extends a little way, to allow the anchoring of freeform.

Bezelling the squares was a bit tricky and I fudged the first one, but the second worked better and I got everything connected. I then raced away with the freeforming, and by Christmas Eve I was finished (although I might add more dimension later).

I named the piece 'Kingdom of Sweets' after the fantasy land in the Nutcracker ballet, the colours were sugary pinks and lilacs for the most part with the odd accent in copper and orange. I was pleased with the overall shape which is reminiscent of a wrapped candy or a cracker, all consistent with the confectionery theme.

 I recommend the 'Atlantis Cuff' tutorial to anyone who would like to try freeform peyote/RAW. It was a lot of fun to make, and although every piece will be different, there is plenty of guidance and support to help you achieve a satisfying end result!

Thank you for reading and commenting over the last year! Hoping you all have a happy and healthy new year 2013!

Sunday, 9 December 2012


So sorry for neglecting you all this month (and last) I thought I'd just update you on some beady happenings, so you won't worry that I have given up...

I have been making squares for the Bead&Button magazine Bead-it-Forward appeal in aid of breast cancer research. Having had a scare earlier in the year, and knowing several families affected by the disease I was keen to join in and in a fit of enthusiasm cut about 25 squares of beading foundation to the prescribed size. Of course I didn't manage to complete 25 squares, but through the OTTBS facebook group effort I passed on the spare cut squares to other beaders who didn't have the foundation.

We had made contact with the associate-editor in charge of the project and she had said that provided all squares were submitted together they could be combined into a single quilt so that the group's efforts could be auctioned as one! At the present time we have over 80 squares between us. I have just sent off the 12 I have managed (not all perfect in my eyes, but all good experiments) to our coordinator in the US Janine,  and we hope to collect all our groups' together by January, although the deadline is not until March.

I have been so impressed by the effort put in by inexperienced novice beaders and experts alike, and would like to encourage every beader to have a go! In order to help with inspiration, there are a number of free charts on the magazine page.

Anyway here is my 'set' all together

Otherwise, most of my bead efforts need to stay 'under wraps' until the recipients see them, being either gifts or 'Round Robin' embroidery projects, which will be revealed only when every square in the group has completed the circuit. Our group has participants in the US, UK and Australia, so it is likely to take a while... I'm on my 3rd square now, but will need to work on two others in the future, as they appear in the post!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

OTTBS Bead Book Bounce: Little Bead Boxes by Julia S. Pretl

The third OTTBS Bead Book Bounce (and the second in which I've participated) features Julia S. Pretl's Little Bead Boxes. I bought this book after seeing the dedication in Diane Fitzgerald's Shaped Beadwork, but other than looking at the pictures had barely touched it. I decided to attempt at least one of the projects in the book, and possibly more if I could for Christmas presents for close family this year.

Although the book patterns begin with a triangular box, the one I really liked was 'Star' which is pentagonal.

I had no real problems with the base of the box, working in 4 colours of delicas, and following the word chart and the graphed design. It may seem odd to some that the word chart always starts at a corner, when due to stepping up, the point at which you actually begin a row varies, but once you are used to it it seems straightforward enough. The increase cycle section for pentagonal bases helps to clarify so is worth sticking a marker in.

My shaping at the top of the box was also trouble free, but I hit a snag at the hem round one (and I really needed the bookmark in the hem instruction page) I managed to break a bead in the corner of the row from which the hem begins so had to unravel right back to the beginning of the inner column. The 6lb fireline ended up like frayed Nymo!

My top tip here is to cut the thread if you are going to unpick more than a side, fasten it off and begin a fresh thread length from the problem point. Switching to a thinner needle and 4lb test for the 4 hem rows and the last two body rows and the zipping up, was also beneficial, although by the time I did the lid hem, I was comfortable with 6lb and a size 10 needle.

The box took me about a week to make so the prospect of making a few as presents is not too onerous. This is the finished piece and I have completed the lid with a little ceramic star which was just the right blend of lime and turquoise:

Have a look at the OTTBS page for a few more boxes made by group menbers, and links to other blogs

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Festina lente...

Or as it is sometimes translated 'Make haste slowly'!

I feel this year is running away with me a bit, with the clocks changing last night Winter seems to be here (ferocious hail yesterday to add to the feeling).

I have been steadily working on the bag but it is not growing very fast. I ordered a bulk of the green iris seed beads I need for the background, but the darn things havn't arrived so I need to tackle the company and or the postal service.

This is it in its entirety and considering how much I've done, there is still a way to go on it. BUT I still like it which is a plus! I have also got a couple of little things I can do for a rest when I need to, and these are needed by Christmas so I do have to get on with them...

If my BlogPosts die down a bit you know I'm busy beading instead though, I haven't given up on you all!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

bag blag blog

I am continuing to make bag progress, it is just a bit slower than I'd like! After a meal out on Friday night with the work colleagues I had a rich food induced, vivid dream of the completed bag, but alas, when I woke the bead elves (if such exist) had not done the work for me (boo!) I am happy with this bit I have done though, and slow and steady is probably better since I'm designing as I go.

Here is a picture of the work on the bag to give you an idea of the placement. What do you think? Too much? Too little? I know there is a large area to fill so I am fighting the urge to cover the whole thing with big blingy elements!

A bit  of a close-up:

Then I thought I'd divert myself with working the beaded ring for the handle/bag junction. I had a look at various beaded bead type designs including Nikia Angel's sparkly wheel, but decided to use this:

It is the Scheherezade Pendant from Sabine Lippert's Beaded Fantasies book, and was surprisingly quick to make: circular RAW in increasing bead sizes zipped into a donut shape then reinforced with netting. I'm pleased with my colours and will probably make another for a necklace if I can buy the metallic finish 4mm again (don't you hate when you get to the bottom of a pack of beads you know you haven't seen on sale anywhere lately?) If anyone has seen any, do let me know where they can be found!


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Just keep beading...

I've done a tiny bit more on the bag: this is the 'back' facing side with a lovely marquise shaped green goldstone cabochon from Designer Cabochons. I thought it was great in this position as 1) it is quite big, and therefore covers more space, and 2) it is a low profile cabochon so doesn't protrude too much. Having sewn a large Swarovski Navette to the front flap, I realised how dimensional parts of the embroidery will be, since the height of crystals can be significant (but compensated for by the depth of the facets and the reflections)

The bezel is backstitched rather than peyote, and I have used peel'n'stick for a firm connection to the foundation. I used light bronze size 8 beads (Miyuki 457L) and green iris 11s (Miyuki 468) for the securing rounds. A favourite 4mm Firepolish (copper lined olive) from Yashma looked good around this and then I found some green iris hex beads so used them for a bit of texture. The leaf beads have been in my stash a long time and are green metallic, and I broke out the good stash with some freshwater pearls from Raphael Beads, my local bead shop. I'm happy so far (but there is still a long way to go). I coloured the foundation with some marker pens as the painted colour still seemed too light and showed a lot. I think I'm trying to camouflage the area I still have to fill!

Anyway I will save the front flap of the bag for a later post, but it is also coming along, albeit slowly. 'Just keep beading...' is my mantra, hopefully I will get this completed within a year!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Working on it!

'I'm (still) working on it' is my usual response to anyone who asks about 'that project you began in January etc...' Shameful eh? The one good thing is that I do usually resurrect said project so I can be at least slightly truthful when I say that!

People have been kindly enquiring about the health of my parrot embroidery and so rather than endure any Monty Python references I thought I should finish off the little bit of sky still remaining so I can at least once say I finished the embroidery part! Here he is and I'd like opinions on how to finish him off properly (I promise to try and do this in a timely fashion). My thoughts were to make a loose cover for a standard hardback week-to view pocket diary (so it could be transferred annually) but I'm not sure he'd be that hard wearing. Maybe a little frame would be a better option?. He is about 10cm x 5.5cm at the widest points, to give some idea. Other suggestions more than welcome!


I'd also like to show that I have made a start on my bag, although I may be shopping for more beads before long, as I think I might run out. I also need to work out how to attach the more pointy backed stones such as the emerald dentelles and metallic gold chatons I'd like to use. So far I have the Sahara navette and a green goldstone cabochon placed but not at all sure where to go next. Still this is the fun of bead embroidery, it seems to evolve!

We'll see how much progress I manage by the next time someone asks 'How's the bag coming along?' (Hint: the answer is at the top!)

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Bag Lady

This week I did something extremely alien, to me at least! I bought an evening purse! I do not carry a handbag or purse most of the time, relying on pockets/carrierbags/a rather old satchel-type bag for all the bits and bobs of everyday life. Also I do not have a social life which requires any kind of dressing up, so an EVENING PURSE!! Really quite odd behaviour...

The reason for this crazy purchase is that I have ogled beautiful hand beaded bags almost all my life. My Grandmother's neighbour (the terrifying district nurse, who had a heart of gold in a crusty exterior) gave me a bead embroidered bag when I was about 4 years old, with angel fish swimming around. I later took scissors to it to recycle the beads when I had snagged it a few too many times and broken the catch, these seed beads were among the first I ever used for weaving.

Anyway, I decided, when I began bead embroidery, that a future project would have to be a purse, and lately I've seen several using a purchased bag as the base. The Bad Liz (Liz Thompson) has a few lovely examples on the Bead Embroidery Forever Facebook group. This little purse seemed just the thing to try the technique:

 I could see the embroidery being made as a long strip which would wrap around the bag with a hole for the wrist strap and  the catch, so I made a paper template (using baking parchment, see picture) and then traced this onto vilene (interfacing). I'm not sure what colour beads I'll use so I painted the vilene a kind of dull brown on the basis that it will blend with most things. The paint I used was an acrylic liquid used by the boys in my family for model painting. I diluted it well and applied it to dampened fabric, as I saw this done by Angela Massey of Sharp Tomato at a bead fair and it doesn't seem to affect the 'needling' of the foundation as long as it isn't too thickly applied.

Now to choose some bits from my stash to use as focals...

Monday, 17 September 2012

Beading Babes Project 6 Reveal

I decided to join in the Beading Babes Project 6 beadalong which offered several enticing projects. Because the initial reveal date was beginning of September, I thought I'd best not bite off more than I could chew and opted to do just one of the projects, Ripple Cuff by Sherry Serafini from the June/July 2011 issue of beadwork . I enjoy bead embroidery but my approach to design is pretty random so the idea of following a pattern for an embroidered piece was intriguing.

As a centre focal I selected this green/fuchsia Czech glass dragonfly button, which I  backfilled with interfacing donut shapes to accommodate the shank. I chose green iris, fuchsia, gold metallic and purple iris size 15s to match. Having attached it to the foundation and worked the bezel in delicas and size 15 beads, I  already decided to deviate from the pattern by using a cuff blank instead of a clasp. The button was 31mm diameter and it was obvious that I'd have more rows of  'ripples' to do to cover the area of a 5cm cuff blank. I then discovered that I really don't like doing repetitive fills in bead embroidery, and that it is hard to get them to be nice and round.

 Perseverance is my middle name (not really!) so I completed the three rows of the original pattern and extended them up round the edge of the centrepiece. At that point I decided enough of a good thing is a feast! I went into a 'fill the space any which way' mode and found some higher metallic Toho size 11s to round off the ends. Due to the rather large finished size I decided to forgo the drop edging in favour of purple iris size 8s brickstitched to the covered form, I also had to add a further row of charlottes to the bezel as the focal wanted to pop out.

Here is the more-or-less completed embroidery (but it is very hard to show the fuchsia flash of the button):

And this is the final product:

The only thing I wasn't happy with was the white foundation, this would have looked way better on a green or purple backing, but following a disastrous attempt to colour the gaps between the beads I decided to let well alone  (I had to take a cotton bud with alcohol to clean up the pearls!)

I'd just like to encourage you all to take a look at the other Beading Babes Blogs, find your way to the facebook group if you'd like to join the next projects, and if you visit Karyn Healy-White's blog  (Releases by Rufydoof) you will find more info!


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Bead, Book & Bounce blog hop: Lisa Kan's Bead Romantique

This is the first Operation: Tackle That Bead Stash 'Bead, Book & Bounce' blog hop. The book -'Bead Romantique' by Lisa Kan (Interweave Press, 2007)- was chosen following a poll of members to see which books we had in our libraries. We then had the option of joining in by making a project (any) from the book, or another project from the same author in a magazine or on-line. We then were asked to write a mini review on our experiences with the project.

Without further ado I'd like to share this project by Lisa Kan 'Petit Fiore'

The project is not in the book, but was published in Beadwork Magazine 2008, I thought I'd like to give it a try as it is very pretty. The base is lovely, modified right angle weave in 15s and 11s, and also charlottes (size15) I looked at the pattern and although the instructions didn't specify, decided that Japanese charlottes would be best in this. I'm glad I did as the design requires several passes in the base and Czech charlottes would have been murder. Then you move on to the embellishment layer. This was where I had problems, the flowers are multi-layers of picots/loops, with a Margarita set atop the centre. According to the instructions it is added after the initial round of petals, but I found it then got in the way of subsequent rounds of picots. The second flower I made was done differently, by adding the Margarita after the loops and I felt this worked slightly better. For me, this might have been easier had the 'common beads' been a different colour to help locate them. I don't think they would show much (if at all). When I get round to the next flower I shall give it a try and see. I am going to finish this, but it is definitely a project for 'fresh eyes' or maybe just younger ones, not for a doing at night, after work, with a headache!

My top tips for this are:
1) Get good quality size 15 beads and Japanese 15 Charlottes
2) Change to a finer needle for the flowers, the base is quite firm and will not accomodate a thicker one.
3) Use 4lb test fireline for the embellishment layer for the same reason. It doesn't matter so much in the base.

I would not say this is an easy project for a beginning beader, but this is mostly down to the small beads, and tight corners. An intermediate beader would enjoy the challenge, and would be able to make adaptations as I have done. The idiosyncrasies of Beadwork magazine's hand drawn diagrams makes them slightly confusing but with the written instructions it is easy to work out.

Lisa's book was already on my shelf and I have previously used the netting bezel on Rivolis for little Hair ornaments. I added some 4mm bicones in the 'gaps' of the netting.

I still aspire to making some of the other projects when finances allow (some of them do require a large number of Swarovski/Czech firepolish/freshwater pearls!) The next on my list is Quatrefoil Renaissance bracelet, if I can find the right sized brass filigrees, as I think I have the other components.

Have a look over on OTTBS for other blogspots with this book for inspiration

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Grand Opening

Hello Everyone!

It is with great pleasure that I announce the opening of my Etsy shop 'Peapod Beads' this Bank Holiday Weekend. It has been a slow and painful process since I am technophobic and indecisive!

Anyway, I hope you will find something pretty to tempt you, and will drop by regularly to see what is new. Many pieces will be related to the blogposts here so you will know some of the backstory to their creation.

If you are non-UK based, and would like to buy, please drop me a message to discuss postage, to keep things simple I have only listed UK P&P.

In other news, I have decided to take part in the 'Bead it Forward' Quilt project to raise funds for breast cancer charities. This is organised through Bead and Button magazine, and has a deadline of next March, so I hope to make several squares (they are tiny so won't take long) My first two, made this weekend are here:

Madagascar Periwinkle


The squares are going to be submitted as a group project with other members of the Operation: Tackle That Bead Stash facebook group, and I'm looking forward to seeing what that talented bunch come up with!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Happy Birthday Dear Blog!

Yes it has been a whole year since I began blogging, and I'd like to thank anyone who has been dropping by to read my ramblings! As with most newbie bloggers I worried that I would have nothing to blog about and set myself a target of 3 blogposts per month (because one per week was too frightening!) I see from my tally that I have passed the 40 posts mark, so for the next year I shall try for 50 (still not one per week though!) and see how that goes...

I had a lovely week off work with visits to friends and family. The weather was HOT which is unusual for England in August, but made everything even more enjoyable. Here is a pic from our day trip to Blenheim Palace:


I managed a little bead shopping in London, and returned home to find some Etsy purchases on the mat, including these gorgeous dragonfly buttons and cabochons from Ivka, and some of Nicole's Bead Backing so I think my bead embroidery adventures will be continuing soon!

The mother of pearl flowers will also be used in embroidery projects. The little acrylic jewellery box is from Muji, we don't have a store in Norwich and I always find something cool when I look there. This has a lift top and a drawer beneath.

I finished another couple of dichroic glass pendants for the stall I shall have at the canoe meet, Saturday has been forecast to be very windy with thunderstorms so I'll only go on the Sunday, but might sell a few things with any luck...

Sunday, 12 August 2012

So suggestible...

I sometimes bead the bleeding obvious!

It had to be done, I'd just received a couple of new cabochons from the States, one of which was my favourite plume agate, the other a similar thin long oval of new-to-me parrot wing jasper. The colours on-line looked more turquoise and teal, in real life there were very pretty apple and lime greens in the stone as well as a streak of oxblood. I stuck it down straight away to a piece of foundation and began to bezel with frosted lime AB, thinking of making a simple pendant.

Then my friend and neighbour posted on facebook about parakeets in her Mother's garden (there are colonies of feral parakeets in Surrey and Southern England, believe it or not I also saw some one early morning in Amsterdam!). So my parrot sense was tingling and before I knew it, this happened:

The head was a solo druk from a mixed Czech/Indian bag and had a lime green to blue 2-tone effect which gives the bird its 'eye'. The beak is a 4mm firepolished bead with copper lining. The 2 beads just worked so well. Even my 14 year old son immediately said 'Parrot' when he saw it, and up to that point 'fish' would have been equally valid!

Because it was Sunday and gorgeous weather, I sat out on our bench and continued with the fun project (even though I have several more urgent projects on the go). I decided my bird needed a perch and some food...

I had only used a scrap piece of foundation so there isn't much scope for extending the scene and finding a friend, but he looks at home nibbling on some fruit. Maybe this piece will end up as a pendant (quite large though), maybe not..

Anyway, I feel refreshed and ready to resume the other projects for the upcoming reveals. I also rattled off a couple of quick pendants for a fund-raiser at my Husband's canoe club.

These use two mini dichroic glass cabochons I bought from a local artist at the bead fair in the Spring, unfortunately I lost her details, but will look out for her again. The pandants are strung on rat-tail cord and have sliding peyote tubes for adjustable length

Monday, 6 August 2012

On the bead mat

I don't think I'm alone in having several (many) projects on the go at the same time. A recent poll on a Facebook group gave the following options to the question ':

- Only one, it's all I can handle
- 2 to 4. I'm pretty good at multitasking.
- 5 or more at a time. The more I do the more I can get done!
- I work on 1 at a time but I'm embarassed to say how many I have in a box undone.
Option 2 seemed most popular with that particular group. I can't actually say how many I have, but I usually find at least 4 things if I try to clear my beading table! Then there are the other projects in different parts of the house... Partly this is because I only have about 2 hours beading time a night, and if I'm tired I need to switch to easier things or I'll end up frogging most of what I do. On Wednesdays I take a small project to work as we have a small and select craft group (2 knitters and me with beads at the moment), and the others like to see progress so I stick to one easily transportable piece for a few weeks. Then there are the 'stuck' pieces where I have run out of beads and/or inspiration, I tend to have a couple of these usually larger pieces going on.
Last but not least there are current 'challenge' pieces. I try and participate in at least one challenge a month, but this month I have 3 on, two are blog challenges where the reveal date hasn't come up yet, and the third is the monthly Operation Tackle That Bead Stash colour challenge. This month the colours selected are Blue and Copper. I didn't think I had much in the way of blue, let alone copper, but I delved deep into the bead boxes and came up with quite a good selection: 

I've begun a freeform brick stitch bracelet, based on a design in either Bead and Button or Beadwork from several years ago, I've made a couple of these and I'm working from one of those at the moment, but I've lost the original pattern so cannot credit the designer. Any ideas anyone? I don't think I can use the lovely lampwork beads as the blue is between the shades I have in seedbeads, and the pendant has too much topaz in it to be within the rules. I'm quite fond of the blue buttons but they don't fit with the freeform. I might have to make ANOTHER project! Anyway there is plenty of scope for some different ideas and that is (for me) the joy of beadwork. and the reason I have sooooo many projects at one time!

Oh and I won the random draw prize for last month's OTTBS challenge (woohoo!), so have more beads on their way from Bead Shop Liverpool (I asked for some more blue beads, possibly they will be better for use with the lampies)

Edited to add: I found the design I used for my original attempt at this kind of freeform and it was 'Jungle Gems' by Tina Koyama in Beadwork Feb/March 2007 ( how long ago??) I see you can buy the pattern from Interweave if you are interested and don't have access to this issue.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Too little time!

I'm struggling to keep on top of things at the moment: lots of seasonal field sampling at work (pea pods at different stages of development) means I'm getting home late and tired, ready to vegetate instead of sorting out listings for my forthcoming Etsy shop. I have been quite creative though, strangely, it seems when I have lots of free time the mojo goes on holiday too!

This piece was a 'name badge' challenge suggested by Ray Skene, who makes rather surprising lampwork. take a look at his website especially his sculptural work portfolio. This was my (late) contribution with alphabet beads/peas coloured with marker pen. I shall wear it for beady and work occasions...I'm sure no-one else will have one the same!

Peapod Name Badge

Ray very generously sent some of his work as a prize to the participants (only three of us) and this was my share

The 'Indian Club' is a new departure for Ray, as it has no hole for threading it will be a challenge in itself trying to incorporate it into a beaded piece!

I also ordered a few things from Etsy... well I know I was supposed to be setting up my shop but my finger slipped!

I bought the cutest little lampies from Caroline beadbug and made them into a necklace with sections of CRAW. Pleased with this as it worked so quickly, the rope is in Toho 'Nebula' a dark blue iris which went well with the inky blue in the frit. I used two tone firepolished beads as spacers as the bead holes were quite large:

Lagoon Necklace

And finally...

Over the weekend the new challenge colours for Operation Tackle That Bead Stash were published.  They were Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry (Brown, Pink and Cream) and I was instantly inspired to make a Hair slide/Barrette with some stash items including an Ultrasuede cut-out flower  and a mother-of-pearl carved flower:

Sakura Barrette

So a couple more things to list for my shop. I have a nice glow of satisfaction...or maybe it is just hot in here! This is what happens when I have too little time!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Wind and Weather

Although we've been lucky over on the Eastern side of the UK, not to have been flooded as some other regions were, this week has had some fierce weather! Occasional sharp showers have caused drains to overflow, and high winds have brought down tree limbs in our neighbourhood. The temperatures range from 10 to 29 degrees Celsius so it is a challenge to dress appropriately.

On the other hand I am beading more than usual for the time of year as the garden is watering itself Yay! When they introduced a hosepipe ban you knew what would happen...

This week I concentrated on some gifts for work colleagues. On Tuesday we had a leaving party for a co-worker who was made redundant. This was rather depressing but I'd made her a couple of beaded gifts to help cheer her, and bought her a beading tutorial since she has beaded in the past and will have some time to do more.

I made a ring with some of the beady gift from last week:

Passionflower Ring

Then it transpired that our Summer student is getting married in two weeks time. Second time for both of them, and they are going down to Cornwall for a short break, the ceremony will be extremely small. I was going to make her a bracelet as a leaving present, but I changed my mind and decided to make something  for her wedding based on her description of her dress 'Champagne Lace'. I included plenty of pearls as her name is Margaret (which means pearl).

Margaret's wedding cuff
Amazingly it was a great fit, so I just sewed the snap fasteners in place, and apparently a great colour match too! Phew! I hope she will be able to wear it on other occasions too.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Lucky Beader

Last week I sent out a couple of parcels of beads. One was to a lady who beads on a budget and had expressed an interest in some pearls I was destashing. A fellow beader in the US had asked me to send on some of her destash anonymously. I added a few oddments such as a ceramic angel tile and some Chinese crystals and sent the whole lot off. On Friday another parcel of disc pearls and some assorted orange accent beads were sent off to a friend in Scotland with some pieces to share with the other beaders she meets up with. I love sharing out the contents of my stash as it helps assuage the guilt I have at accumulating so much and using so little! Ahem! Yes, moving swiftly on...

On Saturday morning there was a knock at the door and I had a parcel delivered. Vicky at Bead Shop Liverpool had promised to send a couple of Chrysolite Rivolis, but the parcel contained much, much more...
Goodies from Bead Shop Liverpool

...including the chrysolite opal Swarovski bicones I have been denying myself for nearly a year (you know how it is, you add them to the basket and then before checkout you put them back? Must have happened 5 times if not more!) But also in the package was a challenge:

'Your mission, if you choose to accept it is to make a piece of jewellery using the components in this envelope. You must use at least 2 different stitches. This message will self distruct in 5 seconds 5...4...3...2...1...poof'

Well what could I do but accept the challenge...I love all the items...although I might not be able to combine all into one project but that is OK I think, and I can add from my stash!

Karma does work, and what you do can come back to bite, or as in this case benefit you. I feel very fortunate in my beady friends!

So, on Sunday I played with some floral ideas, thinking of combining different types of bezeled stones. I used Sabine Lippert's 'La Fleur' design as a jumping off point and tried a few variations with different stone sizes and embellishment rounds. Here is a selection of my 'Beadoodles'

'La Fleur' Variants

The left hand is a 14mm  Chrysolite Rivoli the right hand are crystal 8mm chatons.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

June Jubilations

I'll skip right to this current month now, and show some of the beading I managed over the long Jubilee weekend (celebrating the 60 year reign of Queen Elizabeth II). We were lucky and had both Monday and Tuesday off so on Sunday, all the chores done, I settled into a good beading session. On the OTTBS blog, the new monthly challenge theme was posted (no, not Red White and Blue!) and it was Rainbow, to use at least 5 colours from the Rainbow song, and, to double your chances of being a winner of some Swarovski elements, to use 'leftovers'. I looked through my bead soup drawer as I remembered having a multicoloured mix which I'd used for a dichroic glass pendant, which was mainly an iridescent transparent green but also had red orange and topaz silver lined beads. I topped it up with some purple and blue to get a nice spectrum, and managed to make a really speedy Freeform Right Angle Weave cuff. With a few embellishment beads I think it made a good tonic for the AWFUL weather that day!

Rainbow Fiesta

Freeform is my current favourite, and I realised that although I've made small items in freeform peyote I had yet to try a large piece, so 'Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained' I found a beautiful lampworked shell pendant by Tiger Henderson and spent most of a day assembling some beads I thought would go well. My main problem has been NOT matching the focal too closely, as with the loose structure it seems to blend into the background. This is the progress so far:

Seastrand necklace
I've put it to one side now to wait for more inspiration to strike, but with a bit more work this foundation will be ready to embellish.

Next, I decided to take a few more days annual leave, so spent some time making another owl from Heather Kingsley-Heath's pattern, and I treated myself to a lovely new pattern by her called 'Bella's Charm' after the Twilight series of books/films. I liked this as it has another way of bezelling chatons, so I look forward to trying that method as well as the ones in Sabine Lippert's designs

Alternating between making other peoples' designs and trying to make my own works seems best for me, if I get discouraged I can set a piece aside and do an 'instant gratification' project, even a pair of earrings and this helps remove the 'block'

Saturday, 9 June 2012

May Treats

Well such a lot has happened I have barely had time to breathe let alone blog! I hope the following post isn't too long as I attempt to catch up.

The Bead Retreat to Derbyshire was another weekend of fun with like-minded beaders. We were fortunate enough to have received sponsorship from a number of Bead Shops including Beadshop Scotland, RB BeadsJencel, and Spoilt Rotten Beads, in the form of Swarovski crystals, semi-precious stones and a number of other exciting items. As they were in some cases impossible to divide 18 ways, Donna made smaller parcels and numbered them 1-18. At random I allocated every person a number, then put the appropriate numbered parcel in the goody bags that Donna had decorated, so neither of us knew who had what! Also in the bags were a sample of Bead Soup from Nancy Dale of NED beads all the same mix, and a little bead embroidery kit from Julie Cowan and Nancy Dale

The soup and a freeform peyote item I made from it (Laura Zeiner's design)

We also had a great time swapping items from our stash (one beader's unwanted items are another beader's treasure), visiting the pub, learning new techniques and tricks of the bead from each other. The time passed all too quickly but I have a tray full of mementos:

 as well as a load of happy memories and some new beady friends, who I hope to stay in touch with until the next time...

I'll continue the Month's roundup of events in a further post since time is running away with me!

STOP PRESS--- Nancy Dale is now offering Custom Made bead soups, mixed to your liking! Have a look in her Etsy shop---STOP PRESS

Monday, 14 May 2012

Sparkle on a Wet Day

A short extra post today! I was feeling a little off, and didn't want to bead in case my headache got worse, so this evening I decided to look over my stash in preparation for the bead retreat. As the sky darkened and the hail beat down on my kitchen skylight, I pulled all my Swarovski stones and other elements from the various hiding places around my desk. Laid out on a bead mat they lifted my spirits and proved very popular with the members of Operation Tackle That Bead Stash Facebook group...

I think this shows I have some considerable Tackling to do! And I am no nearer deciding what to take to Derbyshire.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


This has been a slightly odd week! I continued my obsession with Sabine Lippert's Beaded Fantasies by making a lantern earring. Why one earring? Well it was going to be a pair, but I couldn't decide on a colour scheme, so I made a different one, thinking I could just make a third in the preferred colours.... and then I found a stash of 4mm firepolished beads and just kept going! Result was a 'rainbow' of beads which I have temporarily strung as a bracelet, but could yet become a necklace:

Then on Thursday I received a delivery of chatons from Rachel at RB beads. Chatons are harder to come by than Rivolis in the UK, and Rachel responded to my queries by getting some in for her shop. The moral is 'If you can't find a particular bead, ask your friendly bead store to consider stocking them' I am now all set to try 'Amazon Jewel', here is the central rivoli (Heliotrope) bezeled in my favourite Light Bronze, and I'm still deciding on the chaton colours for the surrounding 'petals':

My Mother has also been visiting this week, and the whole family went to the Theatre Royal in Norwich to see Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale'. Mum is a great fan of Shakespeare and volunteers regularly at the Globe Theatre in London. She is also a follower (groupie?) of the Propeller Company, who are touring with this production, and knows some of the actors. All parts are played by the 14 men as are the music and the scene shifting. There is also audience participation! If you get the chance do go and see them! The next night we were there again to see them in Henry V which was a great contrast in mood to the other play, with lots of battle effects. My 13 year old son enjoyed this more needless to say, although he has actually enjoyed all the Shakespeare he has seen so far!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

May Flowers

The weather here in the East of England has been fairly grey and wet for the last week, not very good for the flowers but great for the greenery. The maple outside my window is now in full leaf so I'm screened from the street, but have less direct light so I'm glad of my Ott-light.

Last Sunday we braved the rain and headed to the Norwich Bead and Textiles Fair at a local High School. It was a good venue and the catering outlet supplied us with delicious cakes in between shopping for beads. I came home with a good haul, although I was trying to budget for our bead retreat later in the month

I really needed a thread zapper, since I started taking photos of my work I see many more thread ends in the photo. The dichroic pieces were made by a local artist and are destined for embroidery projects as is the blue goldstone cab. The little card is a useful 'Bead Oracle' from Spangles which lets you check sizes when you spot a bead/rivoli for example. As it is credit card size it's easy to carry in the wallet, everywhere you go. I keep giving mine away to other beaders so this time I bought some spares!

On Tuesday I received my copy of Bead Fantasies by Sabine Lippert. Amazon UK don't have it yet, but Book Depository had copies and I preordered from them By Thursday I had completed my first project (but not the last I'm sure) The Granada brooch:

I liked the way the surround is worked first then the central rivoli is inserted. This gave me the opportunity to try different stones. Initially I was going to use Fuchsia, but then I tried this 'Ultra Pink' one and it really glows.
While the projects are quite technically demanding, the instructions are quite clear. Unusually for me I used the written instructions more than the diagrams, perhaps because the diagrams combined several steps in one. I highly recomment this book to anyone who enjoys Right Angle Weave beaded bead forms. I know I'll be wearing out my copy! There is also an interesting piece by Sabine describing her creative process, and development of designs.

So although there aren't many garden flowers to look at, I hope you like this beaded flower substitute!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Anyone for Rococo?

Well here is my finished Plume Agate cuff, as time went by it became more and more ornate, having started fairly Baroque it became Rococo!

I decided to edge the main area of the design with Matsuno Amber SL AB finish seedbeads, although they are less regular than the Miyukis, I think the shimmer makes up for it. It would have been easy to just continue all the way to the edge, but I wanted to keep the focus on the stone and it was already quite busy. I chose to just fill the background with rows of gilt lined ivory alabaster beads for an opalescent shimmer. I considered other beads but these seemed to fit without overwhelming. I wanted to use only the beads I had to hand (too impatient to wait for orders) and I had a 50g tube of these.

The final effect reminded me of the palace of Versailles, where every surface has decoration, and light and shimmer bounce off mirrors, crystal and gilding. I therefore decided to name the cuff  'Trianon'.

Trianon Cuff

Attaching to the cuff blank, and edging to complete took another evening. I chose Matsuno Champagne SL AB size 11s and  Miyuki duracoat Champagne 11s for a 'gilded' frame effect. The cuff is lined with cream Ultrasuede.

This whole piece was completely outside my comfort zone in colour and style, but while making it I was transported to another place and time, and I hope the 'romance' in my head was captured in the final product.

For other pictures including more progress shots, and a picture of the unmounted complete embroidery, see my Flickr Album Bead Embroidery

Monday, 16 April 2012


Another of my stone cabochons was shouting from the box: 'Use Me!' This time a lovely Plume Agate long oval. The colour scheme is unusual for me, soft pink and 'Antique' yellowy cream and beige, like parchment. As I looked at it I was also reminded of old Chinese painted scrolls, the stylised clouds and mountain outlines, the delicately tinted peonies and other flowers.

The agate was about the dimensions which would fit a broad cuff, and I have a number of blanks from Fantasy Beading on Etsy. I began by sorting through my bead stash for all the pinks, yellows and golds. This is (part of) the collection

But there were too many different pinks so I decided to slim the selection and this is the reduced palette:

The cab was fixed into place with double sided 'Peel'n'Stick' and I was ready to get beading!

The design is developing along slightly more formal lines than I first imagined, but I'm enjoying myself going with the flow. Nancy Dale offered some good advice on continuing the border around the cabochon and letting it overhang the edge of the cuff blank, so that is the current plan...