Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Embroidery experiments

In my 'other life' I am a research scientist and sometimes the scientific side surfaces in my beading. This month I thought I'd experiment a little with bead embroidery foundations. I've previously always used heavy ('Pelmet'or 'Craft') weight sew-in interfacing as a substitute for the Lacey's Stiff Stuff which I'd seen recommended in books. I have been coming across alternative foundations recently, so I decided to try some different ways of beading...

The first thing I tried was beading directly onto Ultrasuede. This comes in many colours so by choosing a shade to match your background, you can make any gaps in the beadwork less obvious (eg in tight corners)

Work in progress

The drawback to this technique was that the ultrasuede is somewhat elastic so keeping the surface smooth is more difficult.

The second method I tried was to use fusible (iron-on) interfacing, applied to the back of a piece of lightweight cotton. The edges of the cotton fray a little, but could be edged with fray-check to limit this. Here is the beginning of a Purse. So far, bezeling the flat backed pearls has been very easy, but I haven't managed much background yet:

Trial on cotton fabric

The reason I began these experiments was that I'd like to make a bigger project than the cuffs and hair barrettes which have been my usual productions. I was also trying to source some larger pieces of Ultrasuede, as a purse or collar is likely to require a large piece for backing the embroidery. Luckily I came across a fabulous shop on Etsy run by Michiko Somerville: Suedeshop She also supplies Sensuede, marketed as a more environmentally friendly fabric since it is partially made from recycled polyester. I bought a sampler pack of 5 Sensuede pieces 9inches by 6 inches. Not only was this reasonably priced but arrived from California in 5 days! Michiko will also supply other cuts eg Fat Quarters from the bolt. As a bonus there was a little free gift of little scraps, ideal for pins or protecting the backs of  rivolis or buttons!

Needless to say I have immediately returned to the store to buy a bigger piece so hopefully you will see me producing a sparkling evening purse some time this year!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Beading with Friends

Although most of my beading is done on my own at home, it is always nice to bead in company. For the last two years I've attended a Bead Retreat with some like minded beaders in the Peak District of Derbyshire UK.

This May will be the third such event (provided I manage to step into the capable shoes of Donna, and sort all the payments!). We don't have any organised classes, everyone works on different projects, and we are a mixture of seed beaders, wireworkers, stringers and lampworkers. Obviously the lampworkers don't bring their torch set up, but they do bring lovely examples of their wares to sell to the others.

(Beads by Helen Mitchell at LaLa Lampwork )

The central beads in the ring of pressed hearts finally made it into one of my beady projects 'Serpentina' previously featured in this blog!

We also bring beads/beaded items for swapping, and exchange hints and tips, get beginners started, eat, drink and make merry! One of the best parts is leaving behind our various domestic duties and beading all day and late into the night...and not having to put the beads away!

Sometimes I get the opportunity to bead with a friend, although many of my best beady friends and I interact mainly in the internet, and I don't get to see them in real life. This weekend, after two unsuccessful attempts, my friend Jo came over to play with beads. I persuaded my family to go to the cinema, and we took over the dining table for beading.

Fabulous Jo has organised Laura McCabe classes in Norwich, although we had previously met on Internet forums, I first met her in real life at the class. This year we don't have the Laura classes here to look forward to, but will be travelling to Edinburgh together to take a class with Huib Petersen! Can't wait!

Jo and I both worked on some freeform RAW based on the method of NanC Meinhardt in her Izzy and Lucy bracelet design, and with inspiration from Nancy Dale's Garnet Garden (my Christmas present from Roy...but I bought it myself as I admired it so much!) Jo's is in Wintry whites and mine in Autumnal shades, using as a base some seed bead soup which Nancy kindly sent me. I have a cute little goldstone Zuni bear to add to mine, now I'm onto the embellishment phase. Pictures soon I hope!

I had loads of fun and the day just whizzed by (we did remember to stop for lunch though!) I hope we can do it again soon!