Saturday, 31 March 2012

Here comes the sun

Things are busy up in the ‘Squirrel Dome’ this weekend. A consignment of new jewellery packaging boxes arrived this week – including some luxury square ivory coloured ones, with black velvet lining, which look lovely for the bigger neckpieces. Also got some earring sized ones, so that I can expand my range a bit.

I’ve made a good start on the website makeover, I’m quite excited about it, as it will have a light fresh feel to it and tie in visually with my blog, much more than it does at the moment.

Spent this morning setting up my work table with all the materials to make ‘Clarice’ I’ve laid out my palette of beads and prepared my fabric with a drawing of the sun's rays. I pinned up my sketch to remind me of my initial vision for the piece. However, I expect many twists, turns and surprises along the way.
Beads seem to have minds of their own and they will tell me where they want to go!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Jazzy Geometrics

I don’t think I’ve ever really grown up and my computer has become a virtual toybox. My latest ‘craze’ is my bead charting software. I’ve had it for a while, but have not really had the chance to play with it at length until now. The Clarice Neckpiece is giving me the perfect excuse, as it will have a square stitch woven strap with art deco style geometric shapes on. This needs to have a chart to follow, so I’ve been experimenting this morning.

This amazing little program allows me to convert my drawings into bead patterns. I could even use a picture of an actual Clarice Cliff vase and convert a section into a bead chart. Pictured here is my original sketch, with my first ideas on graph paper and two grids done on the computer.
I’m making different versions of Clarice, as I have 2 commissions for her and want each to have slightly different looks to keep them completely unique. although the shape and colours will be similar. The rest of the day will be spent preparing the fabric background and choosing the beads.

Working on a more geometrical piece is a lovely change after completing Mermaid, she is going off to her new home tomorrow. You can now see a step-by-step video of her being made on You Tube by clicking this link:

Monday, 19 March 2012

When art and nature meet

Bejewelled Caddis by Hubert Duprat
When I was at primary school we had a nature table. Pride of place was a freshwater aquarium, filled with interesting minibeasts. The creatures that fascinated me most were the Caddis larvae, with their clever cases constructed from sticks, stones and tiny shells. No two Caddis are alike, as each one creates its case from whatever it can find in its immediate environment. Looking at these tiny creatures ignited a lifelong burning passion for all things encrusted and textured. Any bead embroidery artist could draw a parallel between herself and a Caddis. Sorting through piles of tiny treasures and applying them to an object that becomes a personal adornment seems almost to be part of our DNA. We just can’t ignore the urge! Recently at the museum near my home there was an exhibition by French artist Hubert Duprat. He was interested in Caddis too and kept them with flakes of gold and tiny precious stones and pearls. The Caddis used these to make the most beautifully decorated cases, like fabulous pieces of jewellery.
Adding the encrusted chain

On the work front, Mermaid is almost complete. It now contains over twenty Swarovski crystals. My favourites are the little flat flower shaped ones, that catch the light so well. I have made a handmade button closure so that the back looks really lovely on the neck.  So just the loop on the other side to do this afternoon.

The handmade button closure
Over the next few days I will put together all my in progress photos to make my You Tube video.
I am now making a small fun piece, a little initial for a favourite niece, which will make a pretty bag charm. Then a break for a few days for a big family wedding. Once over the excesses of the celebrations I'm starting the Clarice neckpiece.

3.45 pm again. Loop now complete and I've got that strange feeling that always comes when a piece is finished after many hours of beading. Here is mermaid in all her glory.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Bad hair day

I have backed my mermaid neckpiece with lovely soft Italian leather. My old needlecraft teacher would be proud of me, the stitches are tiny, neat and barely visible and the back of the piece looks really professional. Backing it with leather makes it comfortable and light.
However whilst I was sticking the leather onto the backing, prior to beading the edging, I managed to get glue in my hair.

By the time I had noticed the glue had set to a solid lump and there was nothing for it but to cut the bit of hair off.  I have a wedding next weekend so off to the hairdressers I went, then to the hat shop to buy a fascinator. Hopefully nobody will notice!
I’ve added the little splash of Swarovski crystals on the curly wave section and now I am working on the freeform back pieces.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Beading along on the crest of a wave

My neckpiece has reached the tricky bit where I want to  create a section that curls over and finishes in a splash of Swarovski crystals. It needs to have movement, so I’ve been surfing (pun totally intended) and looking at pictures of real waves on the internet.

It needs to start with darker beads and get lighter towards the tip. I’ve found a lovely buttery soft piece of dark grey green Italian leather for the backing.
Right, no more hesitation, I'm off to the beading desk to get on with it!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Exploring patterns and colours in nature

Painting in watercolour exploring
gerberas and lilies

A bouquet of flowers is a fabulous treat for anyone, but for the creative person it is especially so. It can inspire a whole sketchbook of ideas for beadwork projects. Working in a medium other than beads is a brilliant way to loosen up and get the creative juices flowing.

 Taking the time to really look at colours and shapes and then just ‘messing around’ with paints, paper cut outs and fabric is great fun.

Painted on silk

Mirror images are often surprising and can be a good starting point for a piece of bead embroidered jewellery. You just never know where these creative experiments can take you and all sense of time can be lost. Before you know it a whole afternoon has sped by and there is a mad scramble to tidy up and prepare evening meal!

Hmmm really must get a CD of whale song!!

My mermaid neckpiece is progressing well, the wet windy weather has suited its evolution!  Until I became a blogger I didn’t quite realise how many hours my bead embroidery  took. However, pleasure goes into every bead stitched. The photographs taken along the way should make an interesting You Tube video. It has become obvious to me as it progresses that a formal, symmetrical, back section would be wrong. It needs some structure, but needs to be a bit more freeform than my original sketch. I’ll just follow my intuition.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Order out of chaos

One of my newly reorganised areas
Beading has been on hold for a few days due to a huge sorting out session in my working area.
I just couldn’t go on with it the way it was and did some serious rethinking. The result is a much more organised space.

Cabinets of little Perspex drawers now hold bead mixes and findings. Clear boxes of beads are organised by shape and colour and everything is much more accessible.

It makes me feel a whole lot more professional, which is vital now that I am going to spend several hours a day working in there.

Now that’s done I can concentrate on ‘Mermaid’ again. I found some lovely turquoise coloured glass oval beads to include, large one and a smaller one. Now I am enjoying crafting seaweed-like shapes with seed beads. Allowing myself the freedom to do an asymmetrical piece has been exciting.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Sparkle and shine

They gleam and shimmer, they tempt and inspire. I'm talking about handmade glass cabochons and I just can't resist 'em! I have quite a few that I have collected over the years and they are waiting to be made into gorgeous bead embroidered jewellery.

Two of them have come out of the treasure chest and have found their way into my Mermaid neckpiece, which is in progress.

Early stages - attaching the cabochons

I am taking photographs of each stage as I complete it as I think it will be fun to  put together a You Tube video to show it being made step-by-step. I have so many fabulous elements I want to get into this piece of jewellery, and I want it to have the look of the deep, with an encrusted surface and a seaweedy shape. I have some tiny flat faceted Swarovski crystal disks that I am planning to add to the stitching round the cabs to add to the look of the ocean floor. Righty Ho me hearties back to the beading desk!