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...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Embroidery experiments II

Remember my bead embroidery trials? I finally got around to finishing my cuff on the Ultrasuede foundation during a very productive Easter weekend. Here is a picture of the unmounted embroidery:

And here is the finished item:

And a detail of the side:

You can probably tell I am pleased with the final result, and while I can see threads showing and foundation peeking through I think I can say my embroidery has made some improvements since my earlier attempts.
I don't think I would use Ultrasuede for such a densely beaded piece again, there was a degree of stretch which meant the shape changed and made it harder to mount on the cuff blank. On the positive side it was a lot easier to do the brick stitch round the edges!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Edinburgh Beadery

It was Marvellous with a capital 'M'! Jo and I flew to Edinburgh on a gorgeous sunny day and it only took 50mins in the air. Arriving in Scotland we were picked up by Lesley and taken into the city to wait for Kim at the rail station. The sunny weather made it ideal for people watching and we were amazed by the facial piercings on one lady. Later, we Googled 'Edinburgh Pierced Lady' and saw her in many images so we knew we weren't delusional.

A quick stop at the Stockbridge branch of Bead Shop Scotland where I was fairly restrained and only bought a few seedbeads and a string of tiny green goldstone facets. Then, after an afternoon chez Lesley in Falkirk, I took the train back to Edinburgh, and was met by Joe who guided me by bus to his and Mary's house. This was very kind of him since we'd never met and the only photo he had seen of me involved a plush orang utan sitting on my head!

In the evening, Mary and I met Jane for dinner at Hanam's Kurdish Restaurant in the old city, and had a nice evening stroll back to the car (roadworks seem to cover most of the centre of the city so parking was a struggle).

Next morning I caught a bus and rendezvoused with Jane for part of the journey, so that we could pick up our lift to Haddington. Wendy kindly drove us out and on the way we collected Selina (83 and still a keen beader). We made it there with enough time to spare that we could have a quick scope around the shop (busman's holiday for Jane since she works at the other branch) before the class began.

Kim having a peruse of the beads in BeadShop Scotland's Haddington Branch

Huib Petersen's teaching style is a little different, but he made a lot of use of the whiteboard to draw threadpaths, and was very patient when unravelling the mistakes for us. By lunchtime we'd made reasonable progress on a Sweet Pea flower, and as the kit had been supplied in different colourways it was nice to see a natural range of flower colours. We had a break with some Huib directed stretching (and creaking and groaning) to regain our natural postures. After lunch we continued with flowers and the pod components.

One of the nicest things was being able to look at, and handle, the pieces Huib had brought with him. Seeing the 'Alice in Wonderland' up close was just a revelation, especially the watch face with beaded numerals, and the White Rabbit. My other favourite was a waterlily neckpiece, but sadly I didn't get the camera out. Take a look at Huib's work on his site and you'll see what I mean. It's truly mind-boggling! Having said that it was amazing to see that his design process really does distill the naturalistic construction of flowers and insects into fairly simple stitches and structures, and we were encouraged to take this process to our own works and try new forms for ourselves.

Here is my total achievement in the class:

Doesn't look much but there is a lot buzzing in my brain as well!

Oh and I may have bought a few beads...