Tuesday, 4 December 2018

A new twist

I've been meaning to get to grips with the wire coiling gizmo I bought ages ago and my latest wirework pendant has given me the perfect excuse to experiment. Having made the central pendant I felt it was just begging for some sort of twisty wirework in the chain.

Out came the gizmo and some fine wire. It took some tryouts before I perfected my technique, but I managed to make six intricate and pretty coiled beads from my Beadalon Artistic Wire - which is a joy to work with. Wireworkers are lucky to have the new softer German style wires to work with these days, it makes a really good alternative to sterling silver.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Blush blooms

There’s something rather appealing about a bundle of beads that someone else has selected. That’s why I like the monthly Acorn Club bead packs from Oak Tree Crafts. This month I got beads in blush pink and lime green. Just what I needed to shake me out of my colour comfort zone!

When I looked through my own collection I found some other pretty bijouterie to put with them. Silvery green lustred leaves, blush pink daggers and also some interesting spacer bars with two holes.

 A quick sketch helped to organise my thoughts about the bead embroidered necklace they would become and then I set to work to craft some flower shaped components. This one should keep me busy for some time!

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Leafy Lustre

A change of technique can really help to keep your work fresh. As I’d made several bead embroidered pieces I decided I’d do some wirework for a change. I’d recently bought some tarnish resistant wire with a lovely antique bronze finish, so I decided to make a piece with a leafy woodland look to it. At first glance I thought attaching the bigger leaves would be impossible if I wanted them flat within the piece, as they only have one hole, running front to back at the top. But thinking outside the box, I created ‘veins’ of wire and this attaches them securely, and adds some textural interest. 

Wirework can be daunting, the trick is not to overthink it, but go with the flow and relax. The shapes are much more interesting and organic when you work intuitively, and I find you waste less wire!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Autumn Arabesque

My latest necklace (pictured below) went off to a new home a couple of days ago and for a few hours my workdesk was tidy.

Gardens and hedgerows are full of inspiration for a beadworker at this time of year. The last of the summer flowers are still hanging on despite the windy weather. I still have sweet peas, petunias and brightly coloured geraniums and our autumn crocuses are in abundance, their beautiful mauve petals contrasting with the yellow and orange leaves which have fallen around them. On our walks this week we’ve enjoyed looking at all the lovely fruits and berries, and I've started a new project inspired by all that natural autumn glory. The desk soon became covered once more by a bright array of lovely treasures from my hoard!

I’ve begun these earrings by making a framework from copper wire. I made little arabesques which I soldered inside the frame – so glad I did classes and learned to solder, it’s meant I can custom make rather than buy certain pieces and I find that it allows me to express my vision in a much more personal way. 

Fallen leaves have so many colours, ranging from lime to gold to purple and pink, so I’ve selected threads in those shades. A weekend of beady bliss to look forward to!


Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Dance 'til Dawn

My beading desk didn't stay tidy and bare for long. It's covered with beads in pink, blue and blush, all jostling to be included in my 'Dance 'til Dawn necklace.

Have almost done the central panel and have a clear idea of how it will progress. The 3 drops at the base will be beadwork which will help to add interest and movement.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

A big blue bead

I love deep blue glass beads, they remind me of apothecary bottles. I fell in love with this large focal bead as soon as I saw it, but have been waiting for just the right beads to come along to team with it. At last I found them. Combined with sections of bead weaving they make a necklace that would look just lovely with a V neck top.

Now the desk is bare and tidy again – onwards to the next project, not sure what that will be, so an inspiration gathering walk is planned for later today.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Bees, buckwheat and beads

I find needle felting a wonderful way to make a foundation for bead embroidery. There is a real satisfaction in using a material that is 100% natural. What I never liked though was the foam you use as a base when prodding the fibres. I found it a bit ‘nails on blackboard’ if you see what I mean. But I received a new pad last week, made of hessian and filled with buckwheat. Much nicer and it came beautifully wrapped from the Felt Pixie, with some sample needles.

 I was inspired to make a necklace inspired by lavender and honey and spent an age ferreting in my bead collection to find beads to make the centrepiece. Then I came across this lovely handmade bead with a drizzle pattern on it. Perfect!

Friday, 24 August 2018

Blackberry Lane

There are so many luscious colours in the hedgerow just now. Elderberries with wonderful rich red stems, blackberries in their varying  shades of ripeness and all the iridescent splendour of the insect world – various bees, golden hoverflies and shimmery dragonflies are all seen amongst the berries in the hedgerow near my home. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that these shades have made their appearance in my latest piece. I had originally intended to make something pastel and delicate, but my muse has other ideas! Sometimes it’s just good to go with the flow!  And this would look just stunning with an outfit in autumn colours.

One of the challenges with this piece was making the transition from the flat section of strap to the round woven chain that completes the back – it meant some nifty bead engineering to make it look seamless. I guess that’s why beadwork fascinates me so much, there is a real problem solving element to each and every piece that can be both challenging and rewarding.

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!