Monday, January 31, 2011

January - Bead Journal Project 2011

I know I said before that I wasn't going to have any New Year's Resolutions, and I'm sticking by that. I did decide at the end of last year, though, that I needed something to challenge myself to be more creative; and I decided that the Bead Journal Project 2011 was just the thing.

I've just been going through some of the blogs of other participants, and I'm amazed by the variety of works I see there -- everything from bead embroidered journal pages, to pieces of jewelry, to spirit dolls, to ... well, visit the blog and check them out for yourself.

Since much of my time is spent beadweaving, it was only natural for me to choose to do something beadwoven for my journal project. And since I spent several hours last year sorting my beads (well, everything except my delicas, which require their own system) into bins by color, I've been inspired to create more freeform bracelets. I dug through my "red" container to locate all sorts of different beads in shades of garnet, maroon, burgundy, and RED to create this freeform cuff which is named January.

They are great fun to create. Freeing, really, because there's no design and no concept of how they're going to look when they're finished. I never have any idea of where they're going to go, and sometimes I don't even know how big they're going to be when they're finished. It's just a matter of adding some beads, holding the piece up to look at it, and then "listening" to the piece tell me which beads need to be added next.

This piece varies in width from just over an inch near the closure to two inches at the center. There are beads of all kinds in here - garnet rounds, delicas, metallic lined glass beads, painted glass beads, freshwater pearls, Czech glass beads in sizes ranging from tiny 15/0 to 5/0 triangle shaped beads. And it's all finished off with a peyote loop and a gorgeous garnet colored button with an intricate design that's visible when you hold the button in the light.

I'm quite happy with the way January turned out, but I have to tell you that I'm already dreading February... It's going to be lots of shades of purple, and I just HATE photographing purple!! Wish me luck. :-) And don't forget to check out the Bead Journal 2011 blog.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I've had ropes on my mind lately. Bead crochet ropes, that is. Or one REALLY long bead crochet rope that you've seen glimpses of before.

And now it's finished. All 95" of it. More than 10,000 beads strung and crocheted. It really is gorgeous, even if I do say so myself.

The beads were supplied to me by the customer who requested this fantabulous bit of bead crochet: vintage beads with a gorgeous matte metallic finish in a color that looks sage green in some light and gray in some. There are also some vintage dark cola colored transparent beads that complement the matte metallic ones nicely.

She asked for some different patterns, so this one has five patterns: tiny dots, a spiraling stripe, little diamonds, little dashes, and some zigzag stripes.

I suppose it was because I had ropes on my mind for so long (it really does take a long time to string and crochet all those beads!) that I came up with the idea for a rope design for a peyote cuff.

Here's the first version of my newest design, Rope. I resisted the urge to call this one "Murder," even though the beads I chose (purely by chance) are dark brick RED and light buttered RUM. Red Rum, Red Rum, Red Rum... anyone for a Stephen King movie? :-)

It's a nice day outside today, with a storm predicted for tomorrow and the day after... so I think it's time for a walk. Who knows? Maybe I'll find some inspiration nearby...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time to Share

I grew up as an only child (yeah, yeah, yeah, Bev, I'm not any more!!), so I didn't have any concept of sharing. My toys were my toys. My food was my food. My room was my room. Hmmm. Not much has really changed, I guess. :-)

Actually, I do like to share some things. Not too long ago I shared a free peyote pattern for an ichthus fish design. I still haven't made one of these for myself - it's on my to-do list. My friend and fellow beadweaver Carol Dean (aka SandFibers) also shared a free peyote design on her blog (and be sure to follow the link to read her interview).

And now I have another goody to share, for any of you aspiring polymer clay artists out there.

This is from a newsletter I received from one of my favorite polymer clay artists, Christi Friesen. Christi has a very distinctive style to her work, and I was lucky enough to be able to take one of her classes at the Bead and Button show in 2009 (and I'm sooooooo tempted to sign up for one of her steampunk classes this year!). The class was a load of fun, and I learned a lot; and although I still haven't gotten around to using the POUNDS of polymer clay I have stashed away, I now have some ideas churning.

The thing I wanted to share is that Christi is offering a free online class to learn how to make this Frost Faerie. She has some special deals on purchasing the materials you'll need, although I'm sure you could supply your own to make your own version.

There are some other online classes on her website, for those of you who can't travel to shows to take a class from her in person.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have anything of your own you'd like to share!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A New(er) Design and a New Pattern

It's January, and although I didn't make any New Year's resolutions, I am making an effort this year to catch up on some things... namely, getting patterns ready, photographing and listing completed pieces that are sitting in a box, and finishing the giant pile of UFOs I have.

I created the Swirly design last October, and created the first version of it shortly after I finished the design.

The Bead Art Originals color challenge inspired me to create a new version of this design, one using three colors instead of two. (Be sure to click that link so you can see all the submissions for the color challenge from our members.)

See what a difference a change in colors makes?

And just yesterday, WAY ahead of my typical schedule, I listed the Swirly pattern in my Etsy shop. There are a couple of other newly published patterns, too: To and Fro, and Dahlias.

Now it's time to get back to crocheting that custom rope I've posted about before... it'll be 95" long when I'm finished, and that's a LOT of stringing and crocheting.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bead Crochet Fun

Bead crochet was one of the first techniques I learned when I started playing with beads a few years ago. It seemed like an easy thing to learn, since I already knew the basics of crochet. And while it's not as easy as it looks (there's definitely a learning curve), it's still one of my favorite types of beadweaving.

I'm in the midst of stringing a bunch of beads right now for a custom bead crochet rope. The beads were actually sent to me by the customer, and they're beautiful. The only challenge I have with them is that they're vintage beads, which means that the holes are irregular and sometimes too small for my needle. It slows down the stringing process pretty drastically, but the results are definitely worth it.

You can see the challenge here in this picture. That's as far onto the needle as this bead will travel. I have a whole pile now of the beads whose holes are too small for the needle. They can probably be used for something else - just not bead crochet. And not with the size needle I'm using (a 10, maybe?).

I did quite a bit of bead crochet back in November and December, but I'm only just now getting around to taking pictures.

Yesterday I listed one of the ropes I made in November, which I named Amaryllis (I looked the name up on a site called BehindTheName and found that Amaryllis means "to sparkle" - a very fitting name for this piece which is made with matte gold and shiny bronze beads.

The smaller beads in this piece all came from one of my favorite sources for Czech beads, Shannon of beadsandbabble. She has such a great selection!!

And just today I listed a lariat that I named Chloris, after a Greek goddess.

Again, these beads came from beadsandbabble, and while I purchased them thinking I'd use them as accent beads, the mix was so beautiful that I decided to just string them and crochet them. I used the entire hank for this lariat, and then added some random glass beads and silver toned bead caps to the ends for some extra pizzazz.

The beads in this piece are size 8/0, crocheted with five beads around on dark green nylon upholstery thread (my thread of choice for most of my bead crochet).

As much fun as I have making these, I consider myself a novice when I compare my work to some bead crochet I've seen. A friend of mine just sent me a link to the website for an Italian gallery, where I saw the INCREDIBLE work of Jacqueline Lillie, a French artist with amazing talent.

I am just blown away by her designs and by the fact that the ropes in this bracelet appear to be crocheted with 20 or more beads around and - my guess - size 15/0 or even smaller beads.


It's work like this that inspires me to play more and explore more.

Right now, it's time for me to get back to stringing... I still have about 30" of rope to be crocheted, which means I have a few thousand beads left to string. Darn those tiny holes!


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I Hereby Resolve...

NOT to have a New Year's Resolution! So there.

Oh, there are lots of things I could resolve to do this year: get in shape, spend more time with friends and family,
work on more beadweaving designs, publish more patterns, clean the house more often, organize the mountains of paperwork that surround me, finish some of the UFOs that are sitting in boxes, yada yada yada.

But this year I'm not going to make a resolution to do anything. I think it's too much like the GOALS I used to have to write when I was working. I hated those things. Hated writing them. Hated having to scramble to get them done. Even hated having to review the progress my employees made on achieving their goals.

This year I'm just going to follow Yoda's advice. "Do or do not. There is no try."

So far, I'm doing. Photographing and listing jewelry that's been finished (can you believe some of these have been sitting around for a YEAR?! eegads). Cutting cardstock to list in my other Etsy shop (which has ACEO blanks and an assortment of kitschy and vintage stuff). Making a point to call my sister and stepmother with some regularity. Filling up the recycle bin with some of the paper that's accumulated.

Here are the new pieces I've listed so far this week. Happy New Year!

Empress - Dark Red and Pale Matte Silver Bracelet (Knot, Ready for Primetime)

Stripey Triangle - Peyote Pendant on Satin Choker

Romanesque - Matte Steel and Black Peyote Bracelet / Cuff

How about you? Any New Year's Resolutions for you this year?