I'm back sooner than expected as Preciosa have now sent out the April newsletter which is all about Charlotte beads including a fascinating insight into how they are made and their history. This means that I am able to show you the items I created for Preciosa which previously had to be kept under wraps. Preciosa asked a number of designers (including my friends Karolína and Romana from the Czech Republic) to create pieces using these wonderful glittering beads and if you take a look at the whole album you can see what a diverse range of things we all created - everything from stunning tasselled earrings to delightful shoes decorated with peacocks!
Although I had a few Charlottes in my collection I had only ever used them for accent beads. However, for this project I wanted to make items made solely from these tiny beads to try and show how the cut edge reflects the light and elevates beadwork to new shimmering heights. The first piece I made is ornamental - three little golden flowers with a shiny black pearl centre. It is hard to capture in a photograph just how much these little flowers actually gleam!
The three flowers were very fiddly to make, so for the next item I made three easy 'Dangle Bangles' in a striking red and black combination with a simple piece of ribbon to keep them all together.
Next I thought I would go back to flowers and so I created a pair of little flowery earrings with elongated petals and fire polished stamens. These are so light that you hardly know you are wearing them and yet they make their presence known by glittering beautifully as you move.
Although I had spent many hours beading by that point, I felt that due to the size of the beads, the collection looked a bit insignificant and so I mixed some apricot Rivolis with a lacy stitch to create a more substantial bracelet.
By then I had two bracelets, a pair of earrings and an ornament so I thought perhaps I needed to make a ring. I used another Rivoli and created a large floral ring with long silver petals and you can really notice the cut surface of the beads in this piece.
I had probably spent the best part of a month working with Charlotte beads and yet I only had five small items to show for it which was making me feel anxious. I had spent the previous year working with large Pellet and Thorn beads, brightly coloured neon beads and size 6 striped beads in primary colours - all of which work up into noticeable pieces in a relatively short space of time and now I was faced with gorgeous but tiny size 13 beads and I was running out of time. I sifted through the bag of Charlottes wondering what I could do to pad out my collection and my eye was drawn to a lovely but unusual shade of blue and I set about creating a large flower brooch with a couple of green leaves. It might look simple but I lost count of the hours that went into this piece and I can tell you that because of the ruffled nature of the flower, there are literally thousands of beads in it! I was happy with the outcome though as I felt that it added the necessary extra dimension to the collection.
And by then I was almost out of time but I just managed to make the Rose Window Rivoli earrings I showed you last week. Although I love the density of my blue flower brooch it was refreshing to be able to make a few Charlottes go a long way in these earrings by using an open stitch to capture some Rivolis.
So there you have it! The above represents about six weeks work and it all fits into a very small box - but when you open the lid of that box you are dazzled by the brilliance of those very special Charlotte beads. If you haven't already, I would urge you to try them as they really will give that touch of luxury to your work.
See you next time!
(All photos courtesy of Preciosa Ornela)