Friday, 25 May 2018

Mix and Match Flower Bracelets!

Hello everyone!

What's this? Nothing on the blog for a year and a half and then two entries within ten days?! Well, as I hinted in the last blog post I've just had my 85th pattern published. This time it's a fun summery project 'Mix and Match Flower Bracelets' which you can find in issue 87 of Bead and Jewellery magazine which is out now.

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to celebrate my 50th birthday in Madeira, where I discovered that cork is used to make everything from jewellery to clothing. I learned that cork is a sustainable natural product harvested from the Quercus suber tree (cork oak) and I believe that most cork forests are actually in Portugal and Spain. While in Madeira, Simon bought himself a cork wallet and it's such a beautiful soft material that most people don't realise what it's made from when they see it. I treated myself to a cork bracelet which I sadly lost, so I was very pleased when I later discovered that I could buy the cord and incorporate it into my own jewellery designs. I love the look and feel of the natural cord, but I've chosen to use pastel coloured cork cord from Endless Leather for these pretty little bracelets as it perfectly compliments the lovely transparent and opaque PRECIOSA rocailles I've used to make the flowers.

I've called this project 'Mix and Match' because these simple flower shapes are made in two layers, which means you can slide them on and off the cord and jewellery findings to change the colour combination for alternative looks. I decided to make my bracelets in delicate pastel colours of yellow, apricot and rose, but if girly isn't your thing, you could easily make them in darker or more muted tones, or even go for bold neon colours for a completely different look. The cord is only 10 mm wide so these also make great stacking bracelets which is in tune with the current festival trend.

I hope you enjoy this quick and easy project, and don't forget you can also use this pattern if you want to have a go at winning the prizes I am currently offering in my contest.

Have fun and see you next time!


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

International Beading Week - Competition time!

Hello everyone!

It's been a little while since I updated my blog, but here I am, and with news! I've been involved in National Beading Week since it began in 2015, but this year it has morphed into INTERnational Beading Week and I'm delighted to be one of the ambassadors. International Beading Week takes place from the 28th of July to the 5th of August this year and there will be all kinds of exciting worldwide beady activities taking place. Keep a close eye on the menu at the top of the IBW page as details of events, special offers and freebies will be added soon. I have several things planned, but the first thing I wanted to tell you about is that I am holding a contest which is open internationally.

There are five fantastic prizes on offer (more on that below) and to be in with a chance of winning there are two main requirements: the first is that you make something using one of my patterns, and the second is that it must be made using seed beads and/or beads from the PRECIOSA Traditional Czech Beads brand. It could be one of the patterns I sell via my website, one from my book Playful Perfection, one of my free patterns available from the Preciosa Ornela project page or one of the many that I have published in books and magazines over the years. I actually did a count yesterday and was quite shocked to realise that I have published 84 different patterns (soon to be 85!) so there are plenty to choose from, as you can see below.

You could make a simple pair of cufflinks in a couple of hours, or you could spend considerably more time making one of my floral lariats for example - from beginner to advanced, there is something out there for everyone. It doesn't matter which project you make, whether you make an identical piece or adapt it. You might like to change the colours, turn a bracelet pattern into a necklace, try using different sized seed beads and beads, whatever you wish, but it should be clearly identifiable as originating from one of my patterns. Some of my designs call for specific types of beads, so unless you want to have some fun seeing if they work with other types, choose your pattern carefully. When you have finished your piece, take a picture of it and either post it on my Facebook business page and tag me, send me the picture via Facebook Messenger or email me (address can be found at the bottom of my website). Please make sure I have a way to contact you should you be one of the lucky winners, and if you are, we will then need your postal address to send you the goodies. The contest will be judged by both myself and Preciosa Ornela and the final five will not necessarily be selected due to the complexity of the piece, but rather the workmanship, attention to detail and overall pleasing appearance.

Preciosa Ornela is generously providing five equal prizes of a copy of my book and 1kg of beads (yes you read that right - one whole kilogram of beads!), which, as you can see from the sample photo above, is a whole lot of beautiful beads. So if you want to increase your bead collection, or maybe experiment with some new shapes that you've never tried before, it's well worth having a go at this contest! I'm so glad to be in a position to be able to embrace the spirit of International Beading Week and share the beady love worldwide, and I'm really looking forward to seeing which piece you decide to make. The contest is now open, the closing date is the 6th of August 2018 and the winners will be announced on my blog the following week. Good luck everyone!


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Playful Perfection!

Hello everyone!

I've written a book! My poor old blog has been very neglected throughout 2016, but back in May I dropped a hint that I was busy working behind the scenes on a big top secret project which I can now reveal - the Playful Perfection project book in association with PRECIOSA Traditional Czech Beads™.

I spent the best part of a year planning and writing this book, and with enormous help from Preciosa Ornela, the result is a 150 page hardback book containing 30 projects divided into 4 sections: Necklaces, Bracelets, Other Jewellery and Decorations. Each project includes a paragraph about my thoughts and inspiration behind the design, useful information about the piece (such as size, technique and difficulty level), a list of required materials and tools and step-by-step instructions with detailed diagrams. The projects use a variety of widely available shaped beads and easy to source seed beads and findings.

Playful Perfection is actually a collection of some of my design work with Preciosa Ornela over the last 4 years, and so it pulls together 19 projects that have previously been published in various international publications and also includes 11 brand new and exclusive projects. Some of the older projects have been reworked (for example Pirouetting Pips which was originally published in the Australian publication Digital Beading Magazine as a delicate gold and silver bracelet is now a striking black and white choker style necklace) however, please be aware that only 11 of the projects are new to publication and so you may already have some of the others in your pattern collection. If you would like a sneak peek inside the book, there is a video showing all the projects here.

The book will be available from distributors of PRECIOSA Traditional Czech Beads and bead stores around the world, but there is a limited supply of signed copies of the book for sale directly from my website which will be available on a first come, first served basis. This is a substantial book weighing close to 1kg, so the postage costs are quite high. It will be dispatched using standard Royal Mail services and prices include a signed copy of the book, packing and postage broken down into within the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. I will work as fast as I can signing books, hand writing envelopes and walking to and from the Post Office, but I am a one woman show and despite being a gym bunny I can only carry so many 1kg books at a time, so please allow sufficient time for delivery. Please also note that the upcoming holiday season may cause postal delays and is beyond my control.

Other exciting news is that I've also teamed up with The Bead Shop (Nottingham) Ltd. who will be hosting a book signing event on Wednesday the 14th December from 5pm until 8.30pm. I'll be there signing books and chatting to people and the store is offering anyone who purchases a copy of the book at the event a £10 gift voucher to spend in the store. But it's not just me - this is part of a late night shopping event and so there will be local artists selling handmade items, mini workshops and even festive refreshments, so it promises to be a really fun evening.

Writing my first book has been an amazing and very rewarding experience but it has also been enormously hard work. I have put my heart and soul into producing the very best work that I can and I am happy with the end result because it is very 'me', so I do hope that it brings you many happy hours of beading enjoyment. This book has my name on the cover, but its creation was very much a team effort and so I would sincerely like to thank Preciosa Ornela as a whole for the opportunity and the continued support of my work, the Preciosa Ornela team members and graphic designer for a huge amount of technical help and patience and my husband Simon and my friends for all of their encouragement, reassurance and practical help - thank you!


Friday, 15 July 2016

National Beading Week 2016!

Hello everyone!

Later this month the second ever National Beading Week gets under way here in the UK, running from the 30th of July to the 7th of August. Following on from last year's success, it promises to be an even bigger and better celebration of all things beady with lots of exciting events taking place around the country. Take a look around the website by following the link above and find out how you can get involved in National Beading Week!

I'm delighted to have teamed up with The Bead Shop (Nottingham) Ltd. again this year and I will be teaching my Daisy Chain Bracelet at the shop on Saturday the 6th of August. It will be a 3-hour class and although we won't be able to make a full bracelet during that time, we will cover all the important points and there will be detailed instructions provided to enable you to confidently complete your bracelet at home. I will also be bringing along some finished samples to give you ideas of other ways to use these realistic little flowers. You can see some of the bracelets I've made below, but there are virtually endless colour variations you could try. The Bead Shop stocks a wide range of the beads and pearls we will need, so we will have great fun choosing colour combinations before we get started - always one of my favourite parts of the class!

My class will run from 10am until 1pm and in the afternoon The Bead Shop will be hosting one of their regular informal bead groups from 2pm until 5pm, which I will also be attending. If you stay for the afternoon session you can carry on with your bracelet or bring another project with you to work on while chatting to other beaders. These sessions always have a lovely relaxed and friendly atmosphere, refreshments will be available (the shop asks for a £2 contribution for this) and the light and airy classroom is right above a store full of beads. So Saturday the 6th of August promises to be a very enjoyable day and while composing this blog post, I have just heard that there are only 4 places left on the workshop - so if you are thinking of booking, don't leave it too long!

See you next time!


Monday, 23 May 2016

Brick Stitch Bloom!

Hello everyone!

Surprise! I expect you thought I'd given up on blogging, didn't you? Well what with Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and now Instagram it can be hard to find time to do any actual beading, but I do have a genuine top secret reason for my absence which I will post about in the coming months. For now though I wanted to drop by and let you know that the fabulous Jean Power has a new book out called "Woman's Weekly Guide to Beading". I was very fortunate to be asked to be a guest designer for this book and my project "Brick Stitch Bloom" can be found on page 150.

Jean has nearly a shelf-full of beading books to her name now and this is another great comprehensive book that has something for everyone from beginners up to the more experienced beader. It is neatly broken down into chapters covering the basics of beading, stringing, wirework and woven beadwork. My little flower brooch is in the woven beadwork section of course and it's much easier to make than it probably looks. I have to say that the illustrations in this book are some of the best I have ever seen and the art department has done a marvellous job with my original diagrams that now look really lovely and easy to follow. The UK edition of this book is called "Woman's Weekly Guide to Beading" and the US version is called "Beading Learn It. Love It" so although you might see two different covers (as shown below) they are actually both the same book.

When I was invited to submit a project for the book I was given a specific colour palette to use and the following project brief: design a small floral project that incorporates peyote or brick stitch with 17-19 step-by-step instructions. As you can imagine, this ticked a lot of boxes for me because it is just the type of beadwork I love to do and so I chose to make a 9 petalled brick stitch flower brooch and it took exactly 19 steps to explain how to make it! I used beautiful Preciosa Ornela seed beads in shade numbers 331 19001 46025 (purple) and 331 19001 63021 (green) and added a white glass pearl to the centre. This innocent looking little flower does actually hold a design secret, so if you want to know what that is - go and treat yourself to a copy of Jean's wonderful new book!

See you next time!


Monday, 11 January 2016

New Year - new website!

Hello everyone!

After a hectic close to 2015 I'm finally back to update my sadly neglected blog and the big news is that I am starting 2016 with a sparkly new website! I created my original website back in 2008 using a template package and it was everything I needed at the time, but as things have developed with my little business I felt it was time to have something more professional and so I turned to the guys at Dijitul to help me. If you were familiar with the old website you will notice that the new one looks very similar in content (but hopefully a bit more streamlined!) but it now has a modern e-commerce store section to enable the smooth running purchase and delivery of my patterns.

The photo above is a screenshot of the new homepage but there is plenty more to see such as a new gallery page, an updated published work page and a handy 'Contact Me' box that appears on every page. The intent is for the website to be uncluttered and easy to navigate and so pages have been kept to a minimum with a menu at both the top and bottom of every page to save lots of going backwards and forwards. Most of the images are clickable to enable you to take a closer look and the published work page has clickable links to all of my free patterns that are available from Preciosa and Bead and Button magazine as well as images of all my other patterns. I also have some lovely shiny new buttons at the bottom of every page which will take you straight to my Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest pages, and if you visit the 'Tutorials for Sale' page and click on the image, title or 'More info' section of each pattern you can even like or share the item via Facebook or Twitter!

In other news I'm also happy to report that my Chilli Flower bracelet has been used in the Preciosa Ornela advertising campaign and appears in the latest issue of Bead and Button magazine. I've had a few requests for a tutorial for this design and there is a chance that will actually happen in the coming months but I can't give you any more information yet as we are still working out the final details of where and when.

So that's all my news for now. I'd like to thank you all for reading my blog and for following my beady travels throughout 2015. I'm not 100% sure which direction I will take in 2016 but I have lots of ideas in the pot so it should be another interesting journey and I hope that you can stay with me to see what happens next. I wish you all a very Happy New Year and I hope that 2016 holds many contented hours of beading for you.

See you next time!


Friday, 16 October 2015

New Chilli bead!

Hello everyone!

I'm here with news of the new Chilli™ bead which has recently been launched by the PRECIOSA Traditional Czech Beads brand. Once again I was fortunate enough to be involved in creating some promotional pieces using the new beads and so I spent a couple of happy weeks turning them this way and that and having a whole lot of fun with them. The Chilli measures 4 x 11 mm and is a narrow elongated bead with a flat edge and two holes which you can see in the picture below.

I've worked with a lot of shaped beads in the last few years and one of the things I particularly liked about the Chilli bead is that it works well with either the convex or concave side uppermost, or even on its side. Modern beads come in such a wonderful range of colours and finishes that it's nice to be able to admire them from every angle and so for the first piece I made I captured an upturned Chilli between pairs of Chilli beads on their side and then added a cluster of them in the centre with the curved side on top. I used a base of black Ultrasuede and a liberal sprinkling of chrome seed beads to complement the lovely mottled black and silver finish of colour number 23980/15481 and then turned it into a brooch.

I liked the way this piece turned out and so I made another very similar piece using Chilli beads in colour number 23980/86800 which has a really nice speckled finish. Again I used black Ultrasuede as a backing, but this time with slightly smaller black seed beads and a burst of shiny silver seed beads in the centre for a touch of drama. Rather than a brooch I turned this one into a pendant by creating a hanging loop of seed beads and threading a length of black satin ribbon through it.

For the next piece I used silver Chilli beads (colour number 00030/27000) with shiny silver seed beads and black Twin beads to make some star-shaped components. Because the Chilli beads have two holes they mix perfectly with the other two-holed beads and so Chillies and Twins are a match made in heaven. I attached the individual components together using jump rings and some more Twin beads as connectors and then whipped up a pair of matching earrings to complete the set.


As much as I love the classic black and silver combination, I wanted to introduce a little more colour and femininity into my final design and so I decided to make a romantic flower bracelet. For this one I used some beautiful transparent purple Chilli beads (00030/15781) and a lovely transparent pale blue (00030/14464) and mixed them with silver seed beads. I popped an 8 mm crystal AB fire polished bead into the centre of each one and attached the completed flowers to a simple herringbone rope.

There is a Flickr album full of stunning photos of Chilli bead pieces made by other designers which you can scroll through for inspiration and you can also see the full range of colours and finishes available in this album. Preciosa has four free Chilli bead projects available to download from their website and some stores around the world already have the new beads in stock too so you can get started right away. Don't forget that Preciosa is always happy to see your designs using their beads, so be sure to show them your Chilli bead creations via their Facebook page.

See you next time!