Thursday, 28 February 2013

African Violet Beaded Beads

I've never had much success in keeping these pretty little pot plants alive, although I've often been seduced into buying them because of the lovely combination of violet, blue and deep green. So I decided to craft some beaded beads inspired by them.

I started off by making some needle felted balls. Using the bright pink merino wool I used a fine barbed needle to poke the fibres together. Then I used Fireline beading thread to embroider the felt bead. Although the background felt is covered with beads, the bright pink still has an important role to play. When you really look hard at an African Violet flower, you notice that the colour really isn't uniform all over. Using the transparent blue glass flowers on the pink background means I get flowers that look purple on the inside, with a halo of bright blue. I found some glass leaves in my collection that are just the right shape.

The photo shows my first bead, threaded onto a needle with a silver lined larger bead on either side. It's hard to convey the depth of colour in a photo. I will bead up a whole garden full of these and then combine them to make a really pretty piece.

In contrast to my beading desk, the garden is still bereft of colour and we will not have a daffodil out on St Davids Day, the buds are still very tightly furled. Having a Welsh husband means I take note of these things.

I'm off to look out a recipe for Bara Brith!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Sleeping Beauty Bead Embroidered Necklace

What comes first, the beads or the inspiration? Well, often for me it’s a beautiful cabochon that has ideas for jewellery jostling for attention in my head. In this case my muse took me on a walk through tangled foliage and  briar roses, and we ended up at the castle where Sleeping Beauty lies, about to be woken by the kiss of her Prince. I did a very quick sketch of what I have in mind and pulled out some beads and crystals, including some pretty Swarovski flowers, for possible inclusion.

I knew at once that this necklace should be quite Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts in its mood, with lots of rich russet colours in it, with hints of green. A fluid shape will be a challenge to create. I think that a needlefelted base will be best to bead on as I can make the twining stems much better than I could by using flat Lacy’s Stiff Stuff. I tried needle felting once before and enjoyed the process, you use a fine, sharp, barbed needle to mesh natural fibres together to create shapes. These are very tough and just right for beading onto. This technique is so appropriate, because the Princess in the Sleeping Beauty fairytale wanders off to a tower, where she finds an old lady weaving wool fibres on a spindle. Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger and falls asleep for 100 years. Now I need to find a way to incorporate the kiss into my piece. A heart element might do the trick, either a bead, or a heart shaped clasp - I'll let the piece itself dictate as it develops.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

A new way to make beaded braids

I’ve been meaning to get myself one of these braiding disks for a while so that I have something portable to make bead braids on. Handy to take out into the garden, or to use at the kitchen table whilst I’m keeping an eye on my cooking. I found the kit on ebay, it included bobbins, thread, a kit for a bracelet, glue and clasps, as well as the braiding disk and instructions. The whole thing cost just £9.99 and would be a great way to try kumihimo braiding.
I’ve just finished my Sea Nymph Necklace. I’ve found a nice way to do little dumbbell endings on the toggle clasp, which makes it extra secure round the neck. Thank goodness for Fireline beading thread, which was originally created for fishermen. I love to stitch my toggles with it. I figure that if it will hold a wriggling fish it will withstand a lot of shimmying and shaking!

Sea Nymph is available to buy on my website at:

Friday, 15 February 2013

A head full of 'What Ifs?'

Sometimes a piece of work comes along and provides an exciting springboard that gets me going in an interesting new direction. Often these first pieces are highly experimental and I know that it's important to give yourself time to play, as it's how you evolve creatively, even if you feel as if you're not producing anything 'finished' for a while. I've been 'messing around' with some gemstone chips this week, trying to find a way to use them around the edge of a pendant when suddenly I had one of those 'aha' moments us beaders get sometimes. I can just imagine that this technique would make the prettiest flower centres - I can just see it working with tigers eye chips to make the centrepiece of a big sunflower bloom.

The photo shows the reverse of the Sea Nymph pendant section with the edging of glass chips. I'm always looking to find new ways of edging my more freeform beadwork. I like to take a more intuitive and organic approach than I do with my more formal embroidered pieces. In this case the piece is very seaweedy in style.

If there's anything that bead obsessed people (who, moi?) love more than things to create with, it's places to store their vast collection of beads.

At last I've found a way to store my bead tubes that works for me. I bought some flat A4 file cases in the local Poundland and they are just perfect! I've grouped the bead tubes into colours and I can now see at a glance what I have without rummaging, as the files are translucent.

My guilty confession is that I had to buy 12 of these boxes and I still need to go back and get a couple more before all my seed beads are stashed away. Good ol' Poundland.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Stitching up a storm

The sea has always played a big part in my life. As a child I loved to be taken on day trips to explore rock pools and collect shells, stones and tiny creatures with a net and plastic bucket. As an adult I find the sight and sound of the sea soothing and stress busting, whether it’s a grey and storm tossed day on the coast in Norfolk, or a warm blue one somewhere far away. My latest necklace is inspired by the sea and will bring together all kinds of gemstones, glass and textiles into a treasure necklace that will evoke thoughts of the ocean.

My starting point was to create a wrapped cord. I have a collection of scarves, including some vintage ones and I selected a blue Italian one which I cut into strips and wound tightly with decorative threads. This gave me a lovely knobbly wrapped cord reminiscent of beach string onto which I’ll weave my seaweedy beadwork.
The photographs show my beadwork in the early stages with some of the beads I’m going to include. Blue topaz, jade, hematite, aventurine and lots of other goodies are begging to be included. I also found some glass beads that remind me of tide-washed sea glass so they will be going in too.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

New embroidery and kumihimo

I've finished two new pieces this week. The kumihimo piece in ivory and blush shades is very pretty and was lovely to work on at the same time as I stitched the vibrant bead embroidered earrings. It's great to have more than one piece on the go at the same time, although it can make for a cluttered beading desk.

I'm pleased with the way the ends turned out on this new kumihimo braid, there are some lovely textures and colours in it.

To make the earrings neat and tidy on the back I've woven the same beads as the fronts.

Both items are for sale on my website at:

I've tidied up the chaos and the decks are clear for a completely new piece inspired by our holiday at Christmas. It's based on sea and rocks and will have some blue topaz gemstone chips woven into it. As usual I'll post photos as I progress with it.