Friday, 29 March 2013

Braiding, books and beating the blues

I’m an avid reader of other peoples blogs and one of the top subjects at the moment seems to be the weather. It can have an effect on our creative output, making the mood dip. When the sun shines I certainly feel more inspired, enlivened and productive. There are some strategies I’ve developed to overcome creative blocks and lethargies that are based upon giving yourself a change, either physically, or emotionally. Walking usually does the trick, so we went for a stroll in the woods yesterday and followed it up with a very hot curry. That blew the cobwebs away!

Another walk this morning, to get hot cross buns. As the charity shop next to the supermarket was open we popped in to browse. I love the book section in there and have bought some lovely craft books over the years. Today’s treat was a fascinating book on Tenerife Lace. I’d never heard of it before but as soon as I leafed through it I could see how some of the techniques would translate to jewellery making.

My mind is buzzing with ideas of how I might wind wire then embellish the resulting shape with beads.
The kumihimo braid is coming along nicely, the colours are very ‘misty moorlandish’ with the heather and rust coloured beads and threads combining well. Using wire in the braid has given it some real body, which was what I wanted, and it will hold a nice shape on the neck I think.
Building up the texture of a braid. Adding extra beads to a braid made with hand dyed
threads and various sizes of seed beads
The rest of the weekend will consist of family and feasting, and it will do me no harm to have a break from the beads for a couple of days. Creativity is like a muscle, and like a muscle it needs some time to rest and recuperate after a spell of intense activity. I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing Easter too!


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Evening sky kumihimo necklace

As usual at the end of a bead embroidery project, my beading desk needs a tidy. I've set aside today to put things away, refocus, reflect and plan and sketch a new piece. I also need to do a bit of husband spoiling as I have been spending alot of time with my beads lately wearing my 'concentration face'. We'll go for a stroll and I'll make a proper roast with all the trimmings.

For the new kumihimo necklace something in the colours of the evening sky is coming into view in my imagination. Soft muted colours mainly, with perhaps a hint of warmer orange.

Time for a bit of 'shopping from the stash' as it is known in the crafting world. This consists of taking a little basket and filling it with lovely beads and threads from my collection that will go into the new piece. The beading desk certainly won't be tidy for long and I'll put my concentration face on again - but that's just the way I like it!

Very fine wire - used to bind a fishing fly.

This new piece will involve trying out a new technique, as I'm going to include some fine wire to add some extra texture to the necklace and help it to retain a circlet shape. When I say thin I mean really thin, as this is the kind of wire used by fly fishermen to make little fishing flies.

I finished my latest bead embroidered neckpiece yesterday afternoon and I'm really happy with it. It sits on the neck well, as the strap has a nice curve to it. The strap was inspired by some ladder-like patterns I saw when looking at some Aztec textile designs and I'm glad I was bold with the colour scheme.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Joining beadwork elements together

All beaders are unique in their working methods. Some will work up a piece all in one go, perhaps following a pattern written down in a book. I have never followed a pattern, the way I work is born out of my love of working out how to make something  I see in my mind’s eye.  I tend to bead in sections, joining them together to make the whole piece. Often, I’ll make little sample pieces before I commit myself.

This has been the case with the Pochteca Neckpiece, here it is in progress with some of the sample pieces I used to work out the strap design. Making separate shapes has allowed me to include open sections with the red coral beads in them. I like to shape my straps, to make a gentle curve, as it makes them sit well on the neck.

Sometimes it takes a while to work out the construction techniques, each successive trial piece will help to firm up the design. The experiments that get rejected are all part of the fascinating creative journey and I’ve stopped worrying about the time I spend on them before I’m happy. Often I will stick the sample pieces in my notebook as an aide memoire for future pieces.
Pictured here is my notebook page for a Michaelmas Daisy Necklace which shows how I work out how to turn idea into reality. When I’m working on a flower bloom I try to look at as real one and note down how Mother Nature has constructed it.

I’ve just completed my 6th Youtube video and have included my most recent pieces. I’m amazed at how many views these little slideshows are getting – as of today I’ve had 32,670 views on my channel and have 119 subscribers from all over the world. Beadwork really is a wonderful way to share your creativity – and it transcends language and distance barriers. If you would like to view my videos please visit my channel on:

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

So many beads.... so little time!

I've been on a bit of a roll recently, with ideas for jewellery coming thick and fast. I'm making the most of this as I'm all to aware that creative blocks can strike at any time. For now though, I just can't wait to get out of bed in the morning and make it to the beading desk. I started a new bead embroidered neckpiece this morning. It's bold and geometric - which is refreshing to work on after the frothy little African Violet piece I have just finished. Here is my sketch of the new piece - called Pochteca (after an Aztec deity) I originally intended it to just be in blue and green, but I felt that it needed something to make it really 'pop' so I added in some red and now I'm really happy with it. Pictured above the sketch is the piece in the very early stages, I've attached the cabochons to the Lacy's Stiff stuff with E6000 adhesive. This is a really heavyweight adhesive that all us bead embroiderers just can't live without! Even though I capture my cabs within woven bezels I like to know they are firmly attached and can't jiggle around. Call me OCD if you like.

Here is the picture of my completed African Violet necklace, I can feel some more of these pretty beaded beads coming on - in various different colours and shapes. Good excuse to go and buy some real flowers to inspire me.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

A Bouquet of Beaded Beads

I thought I would give you a quick update on my African Violet necklace.

I made five individual beaded beads and now I am thinking of what kind of chain I will suspend them from. I feel that it needs not be too chunky as the beaded beads are quite dainty in style. I tried a beading stitch once before called nepal chain, which looks like a delicate chain of budding foliage, so I will experiment with a sample length to see if it works.

A lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon - hope you are having a great weekend too. I saw some white blossom in the hedgerow this morning, and some violets in flower underneath it. My sister says blue tits are investigating her nest boxes so spring is certainly close at hand.