Wednesday, 8 August 2018

'Harmony' necklace

It’s often a colour combination from nature that has me reaching for my beads. I had a blissful morning twisting wire and laying out some beads for my next project. I’m really excited about this colour combination, inspired by a tiny clump of flowers I spotted during a walk to the post office yesterday.

The lyre shape was created using a wire jig, as it helps me to keep it nice and symmetrical.

I made sure to make a looped element at the base, so I can add a wire wrapped drop. Should be very striking when it’s done.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Time, tide and treasured memories

It’s been a bit of a blessing to have something watery themed on the go recently.  It’s been very hot and dry, so beading my Water Sprite necklace has been slow, dreamy and oh so pleasurable. As I stitched I recalled many images from childhood fishing trips in a little rowing boat with my father. I see us sitting like Mole and Ratty, with me in a pair of tartan trousers that Mum thought practical garb for a six year old on a boating trip. I hated those trousers! Memories bob up to the surface and find their way into the beadwork. I remember the little swirls and eddies the oars made as they sploshed into the water, like mini whirlpools. So I made two little swirls from blue wire to go at the bottom of the pendant section. I attached them with teeny gunmetal coloured pearls.

Sometimes Dad would catch a fish – roach, bream, or perch, with beautiful silvery bronze scales. Before we rowed home they would be gently put back in the water. I searched through my drawers of seed beads until I found some gilt lined smoke coloured ones which are just the right colour and finish. I made the shell drops in my fringe overlap like fish scales. Now I need to think about the strap section.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

A punnet of berries

Punnet. Isn’t that a lovely word. I’m not talking about a nasty, plastic supermarket container here. Oh no, I mean a lovely old fashioned wooden chip punnet. I remember helping my granny to pick raspberries for Sunday tea. I loved the way the punnet had been stained from previous fruity forays along the raspberry canes. We ate as we picked, to the background hum of bees and the contented clucking of her hens.

This morning I went on my own foray – into my thread and bead boxes – to choose colours and textures that remind me of berry picking. I want to include a visual reference to the stained wooden punnet, so I have drilled and dyed my wooden beads and then varnished them.

I will take my Japanese marudai braiding loom out into the garden to weave this happy summer memory into something tangible and pretty. The background hum of bees will be a common strand between past and present.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Calming, cool and monochrome

Maybe it's the hot weather we've been enjoying, or perhaps it's that I've been busy with colourful seed beads, but I felt drawn to the little box in my workroom where I keep my black beads. It's not a colour scheme I use often, but it just felt right somehow. I cut a length of sterling silver wire, grabbed my pliers, took a deep breath and just went for it, hoping that the 'beading gods' would guide my fingers. I tucked the last end of wire neatly in and - would you believe it there was nothing to trim - the wire I'd cut was exactly the right length to the very millimeter, for the wrap. Beading is like that sometimes (but all too rarely!)

Mr J came in, looked at me and said 'You look serene'. Now that's not a phrase he has ever used about me before so I'm thinking this little pendant must have something. He thought it looked very chic and stylish, so I was doubly pleased.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Iris inspired colour scheme

Decided to sit in the garden and embroider some earrings. I love the colours in iris flowers so picked out beads in those shades.

I'm at the stage now where I'll add edging and backing. These will have a fringe at the bottom so will be lovely to wear with something feminine and floaty.

Monday, 18 June 2018

A jewel for a water sprite

Norfolk has it’s fair share of watery habitats. We are not far from the broads, with all the rivers and marshland dykes that flow into them. When I was little my father would hire a rowing boat and take me fishing on the broads, banging a long pole into the mud to anchor our little craft. I would marvel at the smooth surface which was broken only by the occasional commotion of waterfowl.  I thought it a wonderful and magical world down there in the cool green depths, a place for nymphs and water sprites.

What sort of necklace would a water sprite wear? I imagine something sparkling with droplets, little fish scales, water plants and perhaps a piece of metal, maybe the remains of a dagger, an offering from our ancestors to the water gods. Shiny pebbles there would be, as well as water plants and flowers, and maybe a tiny bronze water snail or beetle wing. I have pebbles a-plenty – well, beads anyway, also a beautiful shell shape with a metallic sheen and others like pale fish scales. I can make the tiny water snails myself, from clay.  No doubt the water sprite would weave water weed to make a support for all her little treasures, but I will content myself with threads in iris and green.

As I sketch, and daydream, I can almost hear the gentle splash of oars and call of coot. Dad never turned for home until sunset turned the calm, water lily studded water orange. (I pull out a phial of tiny peachy beads so that I can include that lovely memory in my necklace).

We always called in at the pub on the way home and I was given crisps and a bottle of Vimto. Simple pleasures!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Bead Magic

I’m convinced that a piece of jewellery has a life of it’s own. It sometimes turns out quite differently from your initial plan. It seems to have a ‘spirit’ and will tell you what beads to include. Over the years I've learned to listen to intuitive thoughts whilst beading as my best pieces are done this way.  The other important lesson I’ve learned is that most pieces go through an ‘ugly duckling stage’. This can be scary, and it’s where many a project can hit the buffers, or worse still, the bin! But it’s at this stage where the spirit of the piece asserts itself and things can head off in a new and exciting direction if you will only allow yourself to listen.

My latest pair of earrings are a perfect example of this. When I put down my beading needle last night I felt they were at the ugly duckling stage. I decided to leave them to sort themselves out overnight. This morning when I looked at them I knew just what they wanted me to do. They needed a long glass bead between the two leaves at the bottom. I went over to the bank of little drawers that hold my bead mixes, put my hand in the first one and pulled out….. two little green dagger beads. Viola! 

Now the earrings are a much better shape and are starting to look elfin and pretty. Beads have magic within them.

Before I started on these I finished my blue bead embroidered necklace. It has rekindled my love for the technique and I will certainly be doing a lot more embroidered pieces in future.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Making connections in bead embroidery

My latest bead embroidered piece already has a buyer, so I’m anxious to make it extra special! The lovely soft dark blue Italian leather is now attached as the backing to the main section and I spent most of yesterday puzzling out how to continue into the strap. I tried several ideas that didn’t work until I discovered a way that did – completely by accident. I’d threaded a stack of size 11s and put my needle through the wrong bead. This resulted in making a diamond shaped grouping of four beads instead of a flat strip. Sometimes a solution comes from an error and I've learned over the years to keep an open mind when beading.

The mental lightbulb lit up, as this little group provides the perfect starting point for a beaded bead element - much better than the flat end of the strip would have done.  I immediately made some rough notes so that I would know what to do next time. 

I’m really glad I’ve discovered ‘Fireline’ beading thread. It just seems to disappear into the backing and the result is sturdy and very neat. 

I like my strap to look as if its growing organically from the side of the main section and I think it will feel very comfortable and smooth to wear. Just need to get the rest of it done now!

Friday, 25 May 2018

Ideas for intricate trinkets

As I write, I'm surrounded by a pile of thread spools and tubes of pretty seed beads. I had the idea that my wired macrame motif would make a great element to include in a bead embroidered piece of jewellery. The central part is done and I have the beginnings of an idea how the sides will work so it's going to be a very seed beady weekend!

Not having done bead embroidery for a while, in order to learn some new techniques, I'm excited to combine some of what I've learned with embroidered beads. Some new seed beads arrived through the post last week and they are stored in the lovely old chinese chest that I discovered on a recent forage in the charity shop. They gleam invitingly every time I open up the drawer and I have a few things in my head that are just begging to be made.....

A 'Goblin Market' neckpiece is just one such piece. Inspired by the poem by Christina Rossetti that goes:-

Come buy, come buy: 
Our grapes fresh from the vine, 
Pomegranates full and fine, 
Dates and sharp bullaces, 
Rare pears and greengages, 
Damsons and bilberries, 
Taste them and try: 
Currants and gooseberries, 
Bright-fire-like barberries, 
Figs to fill your mouth, 
Citrons from the South, 
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye; 
Come buy, come buy.” 

Just imagine the fruity concoction of beads that will be!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Something blue

Royal Wedding day! We all love a wedding don't we. I spent the morning watching the proceedings whilst starting a new wired macrame necklace. I decided to just 'go with the flow' and started by taking a length of wire and making a shape intuitively, whilst listening to the words and music of the wedding service.

What emerged was a pretty love knot shape and I've started to weave in my threads of turquoise and blue shades. I'll make wired wing shapes for the sides, to make a pretty neckpiece.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

From the heart of the hedgerow

I've always been fascinated by hedgerows. Often relics of ancient field boundaries, they are mini nature reserves full of interesting flora and fauna. Painting the flowers and insects that live there is a constant pleasure and I wanted to capture a tiny piece of this shady, flower studded world within a pendant. Many leaves are actually heart shaped, so it seemed a good choice for the frame.

I made some beads from polymer clay to accent the cord. I use Cernit brand clay as it's incredibly tough. Making my own clasp so that it resembles a twisty root added a nice finish.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

A little of what you fancy

Happy Easter! My sideboard is full of chocolate. Bliss! Perhaps all the pretty shiny paper has sparked a desire to get creative with collage..... or perhaps it's all that sugar! Anyway I had such a lovely time losing myself in paints, metal leaf and pretty hand made papers. Now that my pendant has it's 'overcoat' of protective resin it needs a cord to match the colours.

I'm into coral shades just now and have some lovely hemp cords in those shades on order with Amazon. When they arrive next week I'll make a pretty macrame cord to complete it.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Painterly pendants

I love painting flowers. My sketchbooks are full of them, from tiny wild flowers to the ones in pots on our patio, I like to get out my watercolour box and try to capture their beauty. After a few weeks of experimenting with mixed media, I have developed a method of turning my miniature paintings into jewellery. Here is my first bouquet of blooming lovelies!

The challenge was making the surface durable, and at last I'm happy that they will stand up to normal everyday wear and tear. They will find their way onto Folksy over the next few days and would brighten up a spring outfit nicely!