Sunday, 3 May 2015

Ripple Crown Pins!

Hello everyone!

I notice it's been nearly two months since my last blog post and I am wondering where that time went. I guess it went in a frantic whirl of meeting various deadlines for magazine and book projects (all to be published later this year or early next), followed by visiting family for a couple of weeks and then coming home to find my trusty 8 year old PC had virtually died. My computer is sort of limping along at the moment but this is the last blog post I will ever write using it. I am very attached to this desktop as I bought it in 2007, just before I turned my beading hobby into a business, so every pattern I have ever created, every diagram I have ever drawn and every blog post I have written have all been done on this computer. After doing a lot of research, I have decided to jump ship this time and I have invested in a shiny new iMac which is sitting waiting patiently in its box, ready to take over from Old Faithful.

So because of technological interruptions I am a bit late in letting you know that the latest issue of Digital Beading Magazine is out now, packed with 178 pages of projects and inspiration. Although I don't have a project in this one, there are a couple of adverts in there that use my work - the newest one being the Ripple Crown Pins that I showed you in my last blog post. I can also tell you that the instructions for these little pins will be available from the Preciosa Ornela website in the coming months.

I am actually very sad to announce that issue 15 is the last ever issue of Digital Beading Magazine as Kelly (the editor) is moving on to an exciting new chapter in her life. I have been on the design team of DBM since the first issue back in December 2012 with 14 projects and an artist's profile published during that time. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Kelly and I would like to publicly thank her for all the support and opportunities she gave me (one of my favourite is pictured below) and I wish her and her family all the very best for the future. I hope you have enjoyed reading DBM as much as I enjoyed designing for it and don't forget that you can still purchase the current issue and back issues via this page of the website.

That's all for this time but I do have some exciting news bubbling under the surface, so I will be back with details of that within the next few weeks.

See you next time!


Thursday, 5 March 2015


Hello everyone!

A few days ago Preciosa Ornela released their brand new Ripple™ bead onto the market and I'm happy to say that I had the good fortune to be involved in making some sample pieces using this interesting new bead, so let me tell you a bit about them. The Ripple is a circular pressed glass bead with a 12 mm diameter and it has a wavy curve to it - hence the name. It comes in a wide range of the most beautiful vacuum coated colours in both shiny and matte finishes and I have to say that although not necessarily ideal for the usual beadweaving stitches, I fell in love with this new bead. Because these beads have a much larger surface than most beads I usually work with, you really get the full impact of the colour and what with the pleasant S-shaped curve of the side view, it's hard not to be drawn to them. Like many larger pressed beads, they really want to take centre stage, but they do mix well with a few seed beads - here is what I did with my Ripple beads:

It's difficult for me to stay away from a seed bead, and so for my 'Ripples on the Surface' bracelet I firstly made a narrow strip of herringbone using bright silver seed beads and then I decorated it with glittering Ripples in glorious California Green. For the finishing touch and to bring out the other colours in the Ripples, I tied it with a length of pink ribbon.

For the next experiment I chose California Silver and California Graphite Ripples (in both shiny and matte) and using more silver seed beads I made lots and lots of little stems and loops for them. Then I threaded them all on to a sterling silver screw end bangle so that they were very tightly packed. This encouraged the Ripples to bunch up and show off their lovely surfaces which you can see in 'Clustered Ripples' shown above.

Still liking the options that little seed bead loops gave me, I went on to make more using California Silver Ripples and black seed beads. These Ripples are silver on one side and gold on the other and so I made sure I threaded them all the same way round to create 'Reversible Ripples' which (as the name suggests) can be worn with the silver facing the front or the gold.

I really like the side view of the Ripple beads and so I wanted to find a way to display that lovely curve as well as the finish on the flat side. After a bit of experimentation I found a way to stabilise a circle of Ripples and then nestled them in to a bed of seed beads to make a sparkly little crown shaped brooch. I enjoyed making these so much that I actually made a set of three 'Ripple Crown Pins' using California Blue, California Graphite and California Night Ripple beads.

As time was running out but there were still Ripples to use and colours to show, I finished off with a simple strung bracelet which I've named 'Ripples and Pearls'. I chose the matte version of the California Green Ripple bead which has a lovely pink and gold finish to it and I mixed them with some creamy 4 mm glass pearls to make a slinky 3-strand bracelet using a fabulous silver clasp from A Grain Of Sand.

So there you have the results of my Ripple experiments, but there are many more ways to use these delightful new beads and if you take a look at Preciosa's Flickr album you can see some really wonderful work by the other designers.

See you next time!


Wednesday, 25 February 2015


Hello everyone!

Hmmmmmm, where have I been since the last blog post? Well, first I had flu and then I had a BIG project to design and make which kept me very quietly beading and writing for at least 4 solid weeks - I can't tell you any more about that just at the moment, but all will be revealed in about 3 months from now. In the meantime I have some other beading  news for you, in that not only has Preciosa Ornela published another new pattern from me on their website, I have also invented a new word. A pair of easy to make cufflinks using the Preciosa Pip™ beads - I give you Pipflinks!

You might remember that I made a pair of cufflinks as part of The Wedding Collection, but I went on to use those flowers in my Pipflower bracelet published by Bead & Button magazine, so I decided to turn the other double layered flower design into a pair of elegant cufflinks instead. I'm a big fan of cufflinks both for men and women and I've made lots of floral cufflinks in the past. Although they can look very smart on a man with the right sort of attire, I also think they make a lovely finishing touch to a woman's outfit. Imagine wearing quite an austere androgynous suit to the office five days a week ... as you reach across the boardroom table at the meeting, your jacket sleeve rises to reveal a flash of electric blue Pipflink! Of course if cufflinks are really not your thing, there's nothing stopping you turning these flowers into earrings, rings or whatever takes your fancy and you can download the FREE pattern here.

I hope you enjoy my latest pattern and as always, feel free to send me pictures of anything you make from this pattern or post them on my Facebook page or Preciosa's Facebook page - we'd love to see them. Another of my new Pip™ bead patterns will be published via Preciosa soon, but I'm afraid I can't guarantee you that a new word will be included as well next time!

See you next time!


Friday, 9 January 2015

Rose Window Rivolis!

Hello everyone and Happy New Year to you!

I always like to look both backwards and forwards at this time of year and I'm actually giving myself a little pat on the back right now. It turns out that I had 17 projects published last year via the Preciosa Ornela website (based in the Czech Republic), Bead & Button magazine (based in the US) and Digital Beading Magazine (based in Australia). That is a whole lot of designing, beading, pattern writing, diagram drawing and proof reading and much of it evolved as the year went on - I think if I had known that kind of workload was ahead of me this time last year, I might have run away to hide in the woods. Taking stock of the past year is a good lesson to me and reminds me of what I can achieve step by step, or should I say 'bead by bead'. Anyway, turning my attention forward instead of back, it looks as though 2015 might be a quieter year for me publication wise, but I do have one or two things in the pipeline which I will of course share with you as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are now around 60 of my designs available in various places, so if you are looking for some inspiration, feel free to scroll through my blog and take a wander through my website or look here, here and here.

You might recognise the first pattern to be published in 2015 as it has been published before, but Rose Window Rivolis has been reworked in a different colour and is now available as a FREE download from the Preciosa website.

All you need to create yourself a pair of super sparkly earrings or an eye catching pendant are some 16 mm Rivolis and a sprinkling of Charlottes. I have made a pair of these earrings in both gold and silver now and they really do catch the light as they twirl, with the Rivolis glinting through the lacy overlay of the cut beads. Although these earrings are around 7 cm long, they are very light to wear as I've used the minimal amount of beads by capturing the Rivolis with netting stitch. Of course if dangly earrings are not your thing, adding just one component to an earring finding still gives a touch of shimmer in a much more toned down way.

I'm happy to say that the earrings have also been used in another Preciosa advert, this time in the February issue of Bead and Button magazine. The Preciosa photographer has truly captured the detail in this shot and you can really see the gorgeous warm sheen of the Crystal Honey Rivolis - thank you!

So that's it for this time. I hope 2015 is a sparkly year of endless creativity for you and that it holds many happy hours of beading.

See you next time!


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Charlotte Flowers!

Hello everyone!

Here I am again with another free party-themed bracelet pattern for you to download and enjoy. This time it is my Charlotte Flowers design which uses Charlottes and Rivolis from Preciosa Ornela to create a row of dazzling star-shaped blooms. You can download the pattern here.

When Preciosa first asked me to create a project for the holiday season, I had all sorts of beady ideas running through my mind; from baubles and brooches to tiaras and tree decorations. In the end though, I settled on an understated yet elegant bracelet that will quietly sparkle on your wrist like snow in the moonlight. I've captured luminous crystal AB Rivolis in nets of glittering silver Charlottes and then added radiant golden petals which appear to reflect the flash of the Rivolis.

As well as being added to the Preciosa project catalogue, this piece has also been used in one of their latest adverts which you can see here. The photo in the advert shows a nice close-up of the gorgeous clasp I used as the finishing touch for my party piece bracelet. It features a beautiful vintage floral brass button set into a sterling silver box clasp and is available from A Grain Of Sand.

I've just worked out that Charlotte Flowers is the seventeenth pattern I have published in 2014 and that's in addition to the patterns I sell via my website and the other forty or so projects that have previously been published (see the side bar for details). I hope my designs give you many happy hours of beading and I aim to bring you more of what you love in 2015.

See you next time!


Monday, 1 December 2014

Hexagonal Lace Cuff!

Hello everyone!

I'm happy to tell you that it's free pattern time again! Make lots of six-sided components using a mixture of Preciosa Ornela seed beads, Farfalle™ and Twin™ beads and connect them all together to create this dramatic cuff style bracelet just in time for the party season. You can download the pattern here.

You might not recognise it, but this piece actually started out as Peas and Carrots bracelet which I made in August of last year. Bead and Button magazine wanted something a little more 'subtle' though and so I made another one using a combination of black, silver and half jet and half labrador beads to add a touch of elegance.

This is quite a wide statement piece which needs a secure closure to keep the two halves in place and to prevent the outer rows from furling. On the original bracelet I used a piece of ribbon zig-zagged through two loops to keep everything firmly in place, but for the new colourway I've added two beautiful jet Swarovski box clasps from A Grain Of Sand to create a reliable fastening with a nice streamlined finish.

Whether you choose neon brights or classic black and silver (or something entirely different!) I hope you have fun with the pattern. And feel free to share pictures of your finished piece with me, Preciosa or Bead & Button as we would all love to see your Hexagonal Lace Cuff.

See you next time!


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Kazuri Kritters!

Hello everyone!

Back in August I posted the news that I have become a design team member for Many Hands Marketplace - Kazuri West and I showed you my Samunnat Flowers which use the gorgeous 'Bindu' beads made by the inspirational ladies of Nepal. I mentioned that I also had a small collection of African Kazuri beads and I was hoping to show some pieces made with these before now (but you know how life can sometimes change our plans) but finally, here are my Kazuri Kritters! I always like a touch of whimsy in my life and so as soon as I spotted these little handmade animal shaped buttons I knew they would be a perfect fit for me. I've created a set of three brooches and I've used lots and lots of seed beads from Preciosa Ornela to give each animal their own special shady tree.

Each piece is only 3 inches (8 cm) high but they took many hours to make as the 'leaves' are created with layer upon layer of small seed beads. And so as I was in full whimsical mode, I wrote each animal a little story as I beaded. Read on ...

Cheetah Tree

It's a searingly hot afternoon and Cheetah sits in the shade of his favourite tree. His belly is full from an earlier feast but still he hides in the long grass observing a herd of wildebeest - it's cheetah nature. He frowns as a lazy fly buzzes around him, flicks the tip of his handsome tail and yawns. Cheetah can see far, far into the shimmering distance and yet he doesn't notice a pair of Seeall birds nestled quietly in the foliage right above him. The birds watch Cheetah watching the wildebeest watching a dark shape in the shadow of the well known Cheetah Tree.

Zebra Tree

It's a bright African morning, the sky is cornflower blue with dazzling white clouds billowing on the horizon. Zebra stands under a Scarlet Blossom Tree contemplatively munching a fragrant red flower. His beautiful reverie is broken suddenly by an egret swooping down nearby. Zebra snorts, stamps a hoof and testily swishes his tail about his stripey muscular buttocks. And then he remembers the taste and the smell of those delicious rare ruby blooms that lay in abundance on the ground around him and he licks his lips in contented anticipation. All is right in Zebra's world again.

Giraffe Tree

It's just before sunset. A lone Pearlfruit Tree stands drenched in the heavy honey-dripping light making the fruit gleam like stars in the night sky. Giraffe stands under the tree with the weeping branches swaying and rustling around her slender elegant neck. She knows from experience that the enticing looking fruit are bitter to taste and will only dry her already parched and dusty throat even further - the real prize is the young fresh leaf buds that sprout high in the centre of the tree. She stretches upwards, effortlessly strips a twig and slowly closes her long dark lashes as she tastes the juicy sweetness.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my Kazuri Kritters and reading their stories and I hope you see what I see. Don't forget you can help support the work of Kazuri West by purchasing the beads, buttons and finished jewellery and if you would like to create your own mini safari, the animal buttons are available from this page.

See you next time!