Friday, 30 November 2012

A Box of Delights

My ebay box of delights
I think I mentioned in a previous blog post that I have been reconfiguring my beading area and that has meant  selling quite a few items on ebay. I decided to treat myself to some new shell and abalone pieces with some of the proceeds. Browsing through listings I came across a big job lot and put in a bid, not really expecting to win it. Imagine my delight to find that I had won it. A courier arrived a few days later bearing a very large and heavy box. I opened it and just went WOWSER! Packed to the brim with hundreds of little bags stuffed with lovely pieces it took ages to unpack. It will be fun to sort through and see exactly what there is – a lovely job for the Christmas holidays. There are enough abalone pieces alone to inspire enough pieces to adorn a shoal of mermaids! Actually, I’m not sure if a ‘shoal’ is the correct collective noun for a group of mermaids – I think I prefer a ‘shimmer’!
The contents of just one of the little bags - gorgeous!

There is more than one way to catch a mermaid – you can go wild and seaweedy, or take a more structured approach with repeating shapes. I like to keep a small A5 notebook handy to jot down ideas, the words are as important as the rough sketches and I try to be uninhibited about it.  In the two sketchbook pages here, I’m recording my thoughts about mermaids and treasures from the sea in general. The results of these musings were two very different pieces with a sea theme.

Shoreline - inspired by ripples between pebbles

Tidepool kumihimo braid - very seaweedy

I’ve come across some very unusual glass cabochons, flecked with bright colours they have a lovely light, fresh airy feel and remind me of summery flower petals. I can feel a range of flower fairy pieces coming on.  Out with the notebook again!

I am finding it quite hard to feel summery, or to get any beading done at all just now as the wind is whistling through the house. Me and my PC are forming a little island in a sea of dustsheets over the next few days, as all the windows, woodwork and guttering are being replaced and then smart new blinds are being installed. I have the headache of trying to find room for my printer in my revamped little beading area – a jigsaw puzzle if ever there was one.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Sensational sunset - the view from the beading desk

I love watching the changing seasons through my window. It faces the setting sun and sometimes there is a really spectacular, if brief, lightshow. The streetlamps were just starting to come on the other evening when I snapped this rather fuzzy photo of the view from my beading window. In just a few seconds it had changed completely. However fleeting the impression, it can often spark an idea for beadwork.

I pulled out some threads, ribbons and beads, as well as a gorgeous handmade cabochon and laid them out to form an inspiration board.

Luckily, I keep all my sketchbooks, and looking back through them, I found an embroidery on silk of a sunset done a couple of years ago.  Wrapping threads around strips of card is a wonderful way to record colour juxtapositions.

The cabochon will look lovely on a painted silk background with a beaded bezel to hold it in place.

Working on one of my signature pieces.

Although the necklace is
fairly freeform in style, it needs to have balance.

This week I have been working on one of my signature pieces for a commission, it's along the lines of Persephone, but I find that she has taken on a life of her own. Working out the position of the flowers and leaves so that the piece looks balanced is an enjoyable challenge.

I'd like to get my two commissions finished before Christmas so that I can spend some time over the Christmas break updating the website so I'm trying to be a bit more focused. Last year I went on a time management course and it's high time I put into place some of the things I learned. It often seems to be 2oclock before I sit down at my desk to do some work and it simply won't do!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Spicing things up

The theme for ‘The Sketchbook Challenge’ this month is ‘Spices’. Very appropriate for the month of November, as the hedgerows are full of lovely rich spicy colours.

Spice shades in the hedgerows - from my sketchbook
When we got married just over two years ago, one of our gifts was a lovely big spice rack. I use it every day, in fact as I write this, I have chicken marinading in a spicy mixture of cumin, coriander, fenugreek, ginger and garlic, ground in a pestle and mortar and mixed with greek yoghurt. Spices are very commonplace in our homes today, but it was not always so, they were prized for their preservative qualities and even used as currency in ancient civilisations. During the fourteenth century, in Germany, one pound of nutmeg could be traded for seven oxen! An interesting thought as I have just grated some onto my mug of hot chocolate – enough to pay for the Sunday joint I reckon!
I loved wandering through the souk on our trip to Morocco some years ago, looking at all the heaped bowls of spices, dates, olives and other exotic wares. Spice stalls jostle for attention amongst leather goods, carpets and metalwork. I’ve an idea for a collar exploring the theme of spices, but it will have to wait until the new year to be made as I am working my way through my waiting list.
Picking out the beads to use in a project is very much like using cooking ingredients. Proportion is all important. It is often the little touches of a contrasting colour that make the main colour beads in a project really ‘sing’.

When I get round to making the Spice Trail Collar, I will include hints of olive green, as well as some textured sterling silver, to remind me of the other goods on sale in the souk as well as the hot spices. Those mottled ones in my little wooden bowls are made of ceramic and have been waiting for inspiration to tempt them out.

My bead board at the moment is covered with woven flowers in pinks and pale cream shades. It is when the centres are added, in the contrasting pale green that they really come to life, proving that a little bit of 'seasoning' can really pep things up.