Friday, 18 December 2009

Lunar Lily!

I've finally finished the second version of my Lily Cuff which has taken a lot longer than anticipated due to the poor light here in the UK at this time of year.  I prefer to bead by daylight (I do have some daylight simulation bulbs but they are just not the same) and so some days there have only been 4 or 5 hours when the natural light was bright enough to bead by.  Still, it is finished now and I am quite pleased with the result.  This cuff is worked entirely in one colour of seed beads and reminds me of a lily in a moonlight garden - hence the name!

I'm not going to write much this week, I thought I would let the pictures do the talking, but I wanted to let you know that this will be the last blog post from me for this year.  I intend to try out some more ideas over the holiday period, so I hope to have pictures of new work to share with you early in the New Year.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you all have a great holiday and I wish you health and happiness for the New Year.  I look forward to catching up with you all in 2010!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A big crafty circle!

This last week has reminded me how great it is to be part of the huge on-line crafting community.  First of all, I posted on my facebook page that I was struggling with getting a good picture of my latest piece 'Lily Cuff'.  No matter how hard I tried, the orange beads just didn't want to play and I ended up with a fuzzy middle and a grey background.  Then my friend Sue from Beadweaver came to the rescue and enhanced the photograph for me.  It's still not as sharp as it could be (after all Sue only had my original shot to work with) but the picture looks a lot more professional than it did, so I am very grateful to Sue who also gave me some top photography tips.  I'm currently making another cuff in a completely different colour, so let's hope this one behaves itself!

Then I found out that two of my crafty friends have included one of my pieces in their Etsy Treasuries.  Claire of Rhodes Annals Designs added my Flamenco Flowers choker to her Treasury and Ileana of Enchanted Beads featured Poppy Supernova choker in her Treasury West.  Thank you ladies!

I also discovered that Sig Wynne-Evans of Beadedbear passed the 'Superior Scribbler' blog award on to my blog.  Thanks for the honour Sig and I'm glad you enjoy my blog :0)

The five blogs I am passing the award on to are;

If you want to play the game the rules are as follows;

* Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 bloggy friends.

* Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & name of the blog from whom he/she has received the award.

* Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his/her blog and link to this post which explains the award.

*Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List - that way, we'll be able to keep up to date on everyone who receives the award.

* Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

So you see, these are just a few of the reasons why I enjoy being part of the international crafting community.  You could view it as cold networking, self-promotion, climbing, whatever you want to call it.  But, if you really get involved, there is a lot of fun to be had along with the rewards of making friends, learning lessons, seeing lots of amazing work and helping each other out.  And to me, all of that makes the modern, uncertain and often scary world seem a much better place.  See you next week!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Colour conundrums!

I heard recently that the issue of Bead magazine that Maid Marian's Quiver is scheduled for, is going to be a 'colour special' and so I have been doing a lot of thinking about colour.  Of course I often think about colour when choosing beads for a new project, but this time I have really been questioning my approach to those choices and trying to gain some level of understanding about the use of colour.  I think I have said before, that I am not a natural when it comes to choosing colours.  I know what I like to look at and what appeals to me, but when it comes to actually choosing the right beads for a project, well, I struggle.  I think I am beginning to realise that the form of the beadwork could be more exciting to me than the colour.  When I have an idea for a new project, I first envisage the shape, the stitches that might work and the mechanics of creating that piece and that's when I can't wait to get started.  The next step usually involves rummaging around my bead drawers, pulling out a main colour that would probably work and then struggling to find something that I think goes with it.  This stage often takes far too long for my liking and can dull my enthusiasm, and for me, it doesn't seem to be getting any easier with practice.  All this thinking has given me a few ideas regarding the use of colour in beadwork though, so if you want to know what they are, make sure you get your copy of the April 2010 issue of Bead magazine!

On the subject of Bead magazine, issue 19 is now available and has my Mistletoe Earrings project on page 12, a picture of Maid Marian's Quiver on page 81 and a sneak preview of my Pearls In The Net project on page 119.

Staying with colour, I managed to create a couple of Etsy treasuries at the end of last week.  One was to showcase the work of some of my fellow Etsy Midlanders teammates, and the other was just for the fun of it.  I always like to have some kind of theme for my treasuries and so this time, colour was the obvious choice!

Right, that's it for this week and now it's back to the beads and racking my brain about what goes together and what doesn't.  Let me know your thoughts on using colour and whether you find choosing colours plain sailing or like me, feel that sometimes it can be the hardest part of beading ...

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Dark Faerie Handflower

I created this new piece last week for an on-line forum challenge. The theme was 'Dark Faerie' and it instantly appealed to me, conjuring up all sorts of moonlight blossom images. I spent a happy evening gazing out of my window at the starlight night, imagining what kind of fairy I might like to create a piece of jewellery for. In the end, I became so immersed in my own little fairytale that I even created a story around the piece and couldn't wait to start creating the next day. The result is Dark Faerie Handflower ...

This is the tale that accompanies the piece; "My fairy is a good fairy, she spends moonlight nights roaming the woods, collecting night-flowering plants for remedies. Of course, not everything in the woods at night is as pure hearted as she is, so she wears this handflower with a magic mirror at the centre of a night bloom. Whenever she encounters anyone or 'anything', she holds the back of her hand up to them and their intentions are reflected back towards them. If they project evil they will receive evil and if they are good that too will bounce back at them. Either way, our fairy will be protected and free to continue with her important work"  Yes, I know, I am probably away with the fairies myself!  See you next week ...

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Royal Quiver!

Following the news that Maid Marian's Quiver won joint second place in the seed bead category of the British Bead Awards, I learnt that it will also be a project in a future issue of Bead magazine. I only had some hastily scribbled notes from the first time around and so I had to make another one, writing the instructions as I went. I thought I would try making it in different colours to see what effect this would have on the finished piece and my first thought was to try red roses.  Can you believe though, that in my huge stash of beads, I didn't have any red beads in just the right shade! I'm not really a natural when it comes to mixing colours and so I spent ages ferreting around for other suitable combinations of colours for the roses, leaves and quiver that would complement each other.  I eventually decided on purple roses! I think I ended up with a rather regal effect and hence Maid Marian's sister piece has been named Royal Quiver.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Maid Marian's Quiver

I got back from another lovely trip to Spain this weekend and one of the messages that was waiting for me was the exciting news that my entry to the British Bead Awards won joint second place in the seed bead category!

I have often felt a little frustrated when I have seen beadweaving being labelled as a 'craft' rather than 'art' as though it is somehow inferior. I have had two galleries turn my work down for this reason and up until now, I haven't really had the confidence to challenge this attitude. I never used to consider myself an artist as I haven't had any training on colour theory, design or all the things I used to think were necessary to be a 'proper' artist. However, I have recently been thinking about trying to inject a little more meaning into some of my work and this is one of my first attempts. I am still feeling my way of course, so I wasn't sure whether I had gone too far or not far enough with my piece 'Maid Marian's Quiver'.

I live in Robin Hood county, near what is left of Sherwood Forest and I often visit the little village of Edwinstowe which as legend has it, is where Robin Hood married Maid Marian. There is a beautiful bronze statue of Robin and Marian in the village centre and the last time I visited, I started thinking about Marian. My mind wandered fancifully to an image of her carrying a delicate silver quiver and shooting rosebuds of love rather than arrows of death. This is obviously a rather naive and impractical idea, but still, I like it and the judges obviously did too - let me know what you think!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Crazy Daisies!

Not much exciting new beadwork to show you this week I'm afraid, just a little pair of earrings I've made as a present to myself to match a new top. They really are as bright and colourful as the picture shows and I call them my Crazy Daisies! The centre is a hot pink Miracle Bead and the petals use a sparkling shade of lilac lined cylinder beads.

I also wanted to tell you about the new issue of Bead magazine that is out this week. This is the third anniversary issue and there is an interesting 'Where are they now?' article which looks back at some of the artists that have been featured since the magazine started. It's fascinating to read what having their profile in this internationally available magazine meant to the various designers and how their work has evolved since that time. My profile originally appeared in issue 12 of the magazine and was quite a bold move for me. Here is what I said in my profile update - click on the picture to enlarge it (used with kind permission of Ashdown).

My mistletoe earrings are also shown in the 'coming next issue' section of the magazine and although I have shown them in this blog before, I've added a refresher picture below. That reminds me, there will be no new blog entry for the next 2 to 3 weeks, but if you click on the links under 'Blog Archive' there are 63 previous posts - feel free to make yourself at home and have a look back through my beading history. I hope to have some pretty new pictures to share with you before too long ♥

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Back to nature ...

I had a flash of inspiration last week and saw a finished piece of beadwork dangling tantalizingly before my mind's eye. It was black, it was shiny, it was unusual and it wasn't flowers! I spent the best part of three days trying to turn that vision into reality, but right now it seems it's not meant to be. I haven't given up on the idea though and so I have put the poor sad thing to one side until I am ready to try again. In the meantime, I went back to what I know and created another flower pin. This one uses all cylinder beads rather than the mix of seeds and cylinders that I used for the daisies and I chose hex-cut Delicas in purple iris to create a deliciously dark flower which I have called Nightflower.

Another recent creation that I forgot to show you last week is Bluebell Wood necklace which is a bit different to my usual style of work. I created my bluebell earrings back in July and always meant to make a necklace to match but it didn't quite work out that way. If you know beads and beadwork, you will understand that sometimes the beads 'talk' to you and these little bluebells didn't want to be hung on a silver chain or attached to a beaded rope. They wanted to be wild and free, pretty, but a little bit rustic and so I searched for some wood to incorporate to make them feel at home and mixed it with some coloured leather and sterling silver. What do you think? I rather like it :0)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Cosmic Peacock!

The new issue of Beadwork magazine is out in the US and should be in the shops here in the UK in the next couple of weeks, although subscribers have already received their copies I believe. My Cosmic Peacock lariat (aka Eye of the Peacock lariat) is one of the projects in this issue and so I received a lovely parcel from Interweave this week. It included my contributor copy of the magazine and Ms Peacock herself who has flown all the way to ♥Loveland♥ Colorado and back, to have her picture taken professionally. She's now up for sale in my Etsy shop

I originally designed this necklace in November last year and you can see the blog post about her creation here . I was fortunate enough to sell the original necklace and so I had to make another one to send to Beadwork magazine. Now as you know, I love beading, but this necklace takes a long, long time to make and a fair amount of patience and concentration to keep that continuous stripe going on for forty inches of cylinder bead rope! I do hope that you have a go at this project though or simply make the peacock 'eyes' to adapt for a project of your own - remember to send me pictures of your finished project and I'll add them to the 'Readers gallery of work' page on my website.

Have a great week and happy beading everyone!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Bunches of flowers ...

I've just got back from a lovely week staying with my parents on Romney Marsh which is where I grew up. It is on the south-eastern tip of England and seems to have a little climate all of its own. While we have had a very wet summer here in the Midlands, Mum has complained about everything in the garden being parched through lack of rain. The garden still looked lovely to me though, full of beautiful floral beady inspiration and we spent many happy hours sat in the garden eating Mum's home-baked scones with jam and cream and also walking miles and miles to help balance out the calories!

Beads were the first thing I packed for my trip, but I didn't actually do any beading for the whole week. I spent lots of dreamy time thinking about beads and what designs I might like to try next though and so I'm full of enthusiasm now. I didn't take any pictures of my trip either, but I thought I'd share a picture of Mum's late birthday present which I took with me. It's made using the same principle as my recent daisies but it has different petals. I originally set out to make a Gazania, which is one of Mum's favourite flowers, but I ended up with too many small petals for it to be quite right - still Mum loves it and it looked great pinned on her navy cardigan on a trip out together!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Daisy Days ...

I've been busy experimenting with my latest flower design and I'm really enjoying seeing what different effects can be achieved by making a few small alterations to the pattern or just by changing the colours.

I must admit that although I love the finished look of beadwork, sometimes I do get a little bored when making intricate pieces as they can be quite monotonous. Some days that's a good thing and can create a lovely meditative state, but other days I have to be disciplined and make myself sit down and finish something rather than moving on to the next idea. Although these flowers take a couple of days each to complete, I'm finding them really fun to make and they hold my interest as there are several different stages to them and they use at least five different stitches. I think they have lots of potential to either just be a fun bright fantasy flower or to look like a variety of realistic flowers such as Gerberas or Shasta daisies, depending on what colours are used - next on my list is a Michaelmas Daisy!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Sunshine on a rainy day ...

Following on from my 'Hello Yellow!' blog entry, I've finally made myself a piece of yellow jewellery to wear. I wanted to make something really bright and cheerful to make up for the wet weather we are having here in central England right now - so what better than a sunflower?

Jean Power's new blog 'Colour Challenge' really got me thinking about why I haven't used many yellow beads in my work so far and so I bit the bullet and chose the brightest of yellow cylinder beads to experiment with. I also used a lovely shade of shiny brown beads for the centre and bright green beads for the stem and leaves. This is quite a departure from my early work which was often in muted shades of pinks and purples with dark greens, but hey - if nature can do it, why can't I? I'm really pleased with the way this has turned out and although it's only three inches high, I managed to squeeze in forty-eight little petals and broke three needles in the process! I've made two of these so far, one is for sale in my Etsy shop and the other one is for me - it makes me smile every time I look at it and I'm hoping it will spread a little happiness when I wear it out and about.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Creative beading ...

Well I had great fun with my new size 15's and used them to create a last minute entry to the British Bead Awards . I was working under pressure as the closing date is today but I'm fairly happy with my entry, although the idea has a lot more mileage in it when I get round to it. So of course I can't show you pictures of my entry yet but I do have things to share.

Yesterday I received my complimentary copy of the new book Creative Beading Volume 4. This is an annual that is brought out by the publishers of Bead & Button and includes "The best projects from a year of Bead & Button magazine". I had known for some time that my foxglove necklace 'Floral Fantasy' was going to be one of the projects in there, but I hadn't expected it to be such a lovely substantial hardback book. There are lots of great projects in there and I think it will make a nice coffee table book for me, but I may have to leave it face down as my foxglove design is featured on the back cover!

I've also had a good week on Etsy with my work appearing in three treasuries. The first two were created by the lovely Cheryl of Littlestone Design and featured Supernova Choker and Poppy Supernova Choker along with all sorts of gorgeous items. Thank you Cheryl! The third one was created by Etsy seller Moon Over Maize and includes my Poppy Pin - thank you!

Right now I'm off to work with some bigger yellow beads and get working on an idea I had when I wrote my Hello Yellow post. Suddenly Delicas seem quite huge!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Fifteen Flowers ...

My recent work on a new range of floral earrings meant I needed to make much smaller flowers than normal. I find it quite a challenge to get in lots of detailed shaping and still keep the flowers dainty enough to be wearable. Last weeks bluebells were made using size 11 cylinder beads and each bluebell is only 1½cm high. This lead me to want to make not necessarily even smaller flowers but to be able to get more detail in - hence I have splashed out on some delicious new size 15 seed beads in a range of gorgeous colours. As you can see, pinks and greens are the predominant colours I have gone for and these tiny little beads look as though they will be perfect for my future experiments with all things floral. Looks like I will finally have to give in and wear those glasses I have been avoiding for months though!

On the subject of bluebells, it's expired now, but I managed to create another Etsy treasury this week 'She sells bluebells' - which of course I do! I am not comfortable including my own work in treasuries and so I searched for other artist's work with 'bluebell' in the title and look what beautiful items I came up with!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Late bluebells ...

The bluebells here in England this year put on a real show and my favourite area of woodland was covered by a scented carpet of them. I had never really thought about beading them before, but when I bent to look closely at them, I was fascinated by how delicate each little individual flower that goes towards making up the total impact is. I went against the country code and picked a couple of stems (in the name of art you understand!) and kept them in a small vase in my studio so that I could follow them as closely as possible. Of course the real bluebells have all gone now, but finally, after nearly two weeks of trial and error, I have some little beaded bluebell earrings to show you.

I chose a semi-matte cylinder bead in a cobalt blue with an AB finish,which seemed quite close to the colour and feel of a real bluebell and added three of them to each earring to create a cluster. Once again, I have used long sterling silver earwires so that you get a lot of movement when you are wearing them, just like my 'Swingin' Poppies' and I've also added to the series by creating some 'Swingin' Daisies' too.

All three pairs of earrings are for sale in my Etsy store.

Friday, 26 June 2009

The gallery is growing!

I've recently added some lovely new pictures to the 'Readers gallery of work' page on my website. These have all been sent to me by other beaders who have followed my published patterns, often going on to add a new twist of their own by changing the colours or incorporating elements into their own designs. I really enjoy seeing these pictures and receiving feedback on my designs and so I thought I would show a selection of them here this week. If you follow any of my published patterns (details of which can be found here ) please feel free to send me a picture and I will gladly add it to the gallery together with your name and links to any websites/blogs you may have.

Diane Fitzgerald uses the hibiscus flower to embellish her bee themed hexagonal quilt piece!

Adele Rogers Recklies added a frosted flower to strands of silk and organza ribbon to create this beautiful necklace.

Sarah Tucker turned her poppy into a dramatic cuff.

Sue Barker created her Supernova Choker as a gift for a friend.

Alison Inglis added a single flower to a strand of leather to create this beautiful fantasy foxglove.

Christine Moore created her own special pet using the dragon pattern!

I hope you enjoy looking at these beautiful beady pictures and a big thank you to everyone who has given me permission to show their work!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Awards, treasuries and a blog feature ...

I'm afraid there is no new beadwork to show this week, but rest assured I AM beading and working on a project that needs to be kept under wraps for a while - she says mysteriously! There's still plenty to blog about though. Firstly, the Beads Perles blog has given me the honour of being their 100th featured artist . The top part of the interview is in Spanish, but if you scroll down past the photos, there is an English translation. Thank you Beads Perles!

I've also had my work included in two Etsy treasuries in the last few days. The first one 'Magic and Mystery', was put together by Lynn Davy and features my Double Dragon neckpiece which is shown on the top left. Thank you Lynn!

The second treasury 'Needle and Thread' is still live and was curated by Alice of snapdragonbeads My Peacock Pearl spiral rope necklace is shown on the top right. If you click on the image it will take you to the actual treasury. Thank you Alice!

Finally, Jodi Horgan of The Beaded Path has passed on not one, but TWO blog awards to me. Thank you Jodi! I tend not to pass blog awards on as I hate to leave anyone out, so I would encourage you to check out the links in my side-bar for lots of inspirational blogs.