Saturday, 27 April 2013

Jade Princess Necklace

How does that song go now.....? Summertime and the living is easy. Hmm not so sure about that as the weeds sprout and the sunshine shows the dust and cobwebs up. Always something seems to need doing that takes me away from the beads. And I always say that I will find time to relax in the sunshine and catch up with some reading. It just never seems to happen somehow!

That said, I've had a creative week with 'Burnished Butterfly finished and sent to a new home already (photo below).

I've wanted to do an art nouveau pendant for some time now, it will be a real challenge to create but I usually find that a sketch helps me to work out roughly how I will approach it. I have some fabulous gemstones to use in this. Jade, aventurine and flourite will combine well I think. I started off by making some chunky beaded beads using some of the round aventurine beads and this has given me the colour scheme I will use.

My initial sketch. I do like a challenge!
Beaded bead using some of the aventurine beads that will feature in the pendant section

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Watching waxwings

We saw three waxwings on our walk to the post office yesterday. They are quite an unusual sight, but quite unmistakeable due to the crest. We crept quietly up to within eight feet of them. They were so busy eating the cotoneaster berries that they did not seem at all bothered by us. By the time we walked back they had gone, so we felt extremely lucky to have seen them.


My butterfly necklace is at the strap making stage. I have decided to make it in the form of a flowery branch. I want it substantial, but at the same time I don't want it to look too heavy. There are lots of tiny size 15 seed beads in there to help with the delicate look.

The picture shows my butterfly necklace in progress. I find my metal mandrel is a really useful piece of equipment. I use tiny magnets to attach the work in progress every so often, as this allows me to check the fit, balance, shape and length. I'm making a real effort to be more adventurous in my use of colour and I'm very pleased with how well the teal and orange shades work here. I thought very carefully about bead finishes too, so the beads in the strap are slightly more matte and muted than those on the butterfly, which helps it to stand out. I'm quite excited about doing some more butterflies in lots more colour schemes over the summer months.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Butterfly update

We've been out in the garden all morning. The seating area outside the back door has now been licked into shape. What an invasive herb mint is - I had to dig deep and remove loads of woody roots before I could plant sweet peas, pansies and carnations. The mint will grow back quickly enough, a treat with butter on the new spuds and I do like it mixed in yoghurt and cucumber to make a homemade dip for kebabs or curries. Yum.

That's enough of the domestic. I managed to flit up to the beading desk and work on the butterfly for an hour or so. Here it is in progress. I decided to make the bottom wings more open than the top ones and use pretty litle drop beads to simulate the 'tail' bit on the wings.

My husband has treated me to 'The Hobbit' on DVD. Those who are familiar with what I make will not be surprised that I am into all the myth and fantasy films. He hates that sort of things so I will repair to my boudoir with a pot of earl grey and some choccy tomorrow afternoon whilst he curls up with his 'Sopranos' box set.

Hope you have a super weekend.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Beadwork highs.... and lows

Beadwork is full of highs and lows. Halfway through this week found me with furrowed brow and a desk covered with half-finished bead embroidered butterfly wings – none of which were giving me the delicate effect I was aiming for.

It’s all to easy to get frustrated when things don’t go as well or as quickly as you want. I remember reading about a prize winning bead artist who had made the most wonderful piece. When asked if she had enjoyed the process she replied that she had often been tempted to place it on the railway track and laugh insanely as it was destroyed! But those who create with seed beads are by necessity a patient, curious and resourceful bunch.
So I’ve had another think about it and have looked at vintage butterfly jewellery and also some real butterfly wings. Looking at some cloisonné necklaces the lightbulb finally came on and I knew what I would do. I’m creating a framework of beads into which I will set my larger beads.
Real cloisonné is created by making metal ‘cells’ which are then filled with enamel. If you look at a butterfly wing you see that it has a similar look to it. Here is my piece with the top part of the body and the upper wings in progress. Teal and slate grey coloured beads will sit in the gaps and help it to hold its structure.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Sketches for butterly jewellery

At last Spring seems to have sprung! I managed to spend the whole day out in the garden yesterday constructing a rockery area. This is a real haven for frogs every year so I was keen to get it done early. Sitting out there on a warm evening with a glass of something chilled we can often spy the frogs coming out from underneath the rocks. During the day they hunker down behind the stones and you can just spy a row of little green froggy faces if you peer in!

Amongst the rocks I’ve put some plants in pots. The jewel colours of the primulas have found their way into my sketches for the butterfly jewellery I am planning to start this week.

Inspiration for colour schemes can often come from some surprising sources and I have found this sweet little pocket calendar in an antiques centre. I just love the combination of orange and white against the deep slate blue/grey so I have sketched a version using those colours. Now begins the real challenge as I work out how to turn my sketch into a fully fledged piece of wearable art. I do so like beady puzzles!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

That bright elusive butterfly

Insects seem to be very slow to put in an appearance this year. I haven’t seen a single ladybird, butterfly or bee and the hedgerows are still pretty bare on our walks. Looking back through my nature notes and sketches it becomes clear that our weather has changed a lot in my lifetime.
Here is a sketch I made in early April some years ago. Lots of wild flowers were out and butterflies were on the wing. It was warm enough to sit in the wood with paints and packed lunch. Today, I’ve got my paints out, but it will be hot soup for lunch indoors. I’m certainly in the mood for butterflies though so I’ll sketch out some designs for jewellery featuring them.  

One of my most treasured possessions is my brass paintbox, it has a reservoir for water and the lid comes off to clip on the side. It was given to me many years ago by a lady in the village whose elderly husband had died. She wanted to give it to someone who would use it lots, I like to think  he would have been pleased at how much it is still treasured.

Looking through my notebooks I see that I have some preliminary notes already, with some sample stitching glued onto the page, together with some thoughts about where to find more inspiration. So that will make a good starting point. I'll work up some more detailed drawings over the next day or so and post them early next week.

The newest kumihimo braid (pictured below) is done and added to my website.