Saturday 20 December 2008

Christmas and New Year wishes ...

Well 2008 has been an amazing year for me. Some recent low points such as redundancy and family illness, but mostly it has been a wonderful journey full of beady goodness. This was the year that I set up a website, an Etsy shop and started a blog - all quite alien things to me. I had my first design published and went on to have 16 projects published throughout the year and even made the cover of Bead & Button magazine. I found lots of fantastic new friends all over the world, either through beading or blogging and even found my best friend from school through Facebook after having lost touch with her many years ago. With the help of Beading Daily and my blogging friends, I raised a significant amount of money for various charities with my beaded Ribbon Awareness Pins. I learnt a great deal about beading and opened my eyes to some new possibilities which I can't wait to try in the New Year and I discovered many, many talented bead artists whose work excites and inspires me. All in all, a great year which I am very thankful for!

I hope life has been kind to you and that you were able to make the most of the opportunities that presented themselves to you. And finally, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I would like to wish everyone happiness and health and I look forward to 'seeing' you in 2009!

Kerrie x

Thursday 11 December 2008

Happy Birthday!

Yes it's my birthday today, 43 - where exactly did those years go? Anyway, the sun shone, the birds flew and the flowers were out, well the winter jasmine anyway! I've had lots of lovely cards, presents and good wishes and really I couldn't have wished for a better day.

I've been very busy over the past week as I had a commission to make earrings to match my Foxglove Trio necklace, Copper Hibiscus lariat and new Cosmic Peacock necklace. Obviously I wanted them all to complement the main piece but they needed to be much smaller and so they presented quite a challenge and turned out to be a little fiddly. I am happy with the results though, especially the foxgloves as they are much smaller than the picture suggests and fit onto my little finger like little fairy bonnets!

They are now all winging their way to their new owner.

Friday 5 December 2008

The love and loss of leaves!

Although it's a crisp sunny day here today, things have been a bit gloomy now that all the deciduous trees have lost their leaves. I still struggle to come to terms with the contrast between the lushness of my garden in June and the bare black branches in December.

In fact, the view from my window for several days this week was so miserable, that it inspired me to do something about it and cheer myself up by making my own leaves!

Most of my beadwork has a nature theme and I've made lots and lots of different flowers over the past few years, so why not leaves? Of course my first attempt at leaves was Olive Earrings which was published in Beadwork magazine earlier this year, but this week I have 'branched out' and created Willow Earrings and some very festive Mistletoe Earrings!

I now have a pair of leafy earrings swinging merrily from my ears and I feel much happier - hmmmm, do you think I might be bordering on the eccentric?

Sunday 23 November 2008

Flower Power!

It's a cold, grey and snowy day here in Mansfield and so I thought I'd brighten things up by posting some cheerful beaded flower pictures. I have designed a series of three flower brooches, the first of which, Primrose Pin, is in the new issue of Bead magazine which is out now. Next in the series is Poppy Pin, followed by Periwinkle Pin.

The second photo of the full set is courtesy of Bead magazine - don't they look great nestled on the grass like that?

Sunday 16 November 2008

Cosmic Peacock!

Well after panicking last week and fearing that I may have to give up beading, I've actually managed to do rather a lot of it this week! I received some great advice from other crafters who suffer from all sorts of work related ailments and I've come to realise that it's all part of the deal, especially when coupled with getting older! That has made me aware that if I want to continue doing what I love, I have to start taking better care of myself, so I have changed my posture slightly, taken regular breaks and done lots of stretching exercises - thank you to everyone who offered advice.

So, let me show you what I have been working on and why I was getting so frustrated. I have finally managed to pull together most of the components in my 'Ingredients ...' post, although I left out some and included others. I love the new Swarovski Cosmic Rings, and I wanted to find a way to incorporate them into my beadwork but I knew it would be a challenge as they don't have any holes in - well apart from the huge one in the middle that is! They come in a range of colours, but I chose the Bermuda Blue in the end, which is a glorious mixture of blues and greens that you could lose yourself in, it made me think of peacock feathers and so the idea gradually grew.

I started out by making a single circular pendant which I liked, but I knew I could do more with it. Then I changed the shape slightly so that it became a tear-drop shape and better reflected the shape of the 'eye' in a peacock feather. It looked nice, but it looked lonely. Next, I did some research and looked at lots of photos of peacocks and peacock feathers for inspiration and gradually had the idea that I wanted to create something long and elegant that would curve gracefully around the neck. So I created two 'eyes' and then spent some considerable time making forty inches of narrow, gently twisting beaded rope so that it can be worn wrapped in a long sinuous curve.

I have incorporated five different stitches into this piece and typically for me, only used one type of bead in three shades, two Cosmic Rings, two Lapis Lazuli beads and three shades of thread. I am very pleased with the outcome and I hope it achieves the deceptively simple look I was striving for. I would love to hear what you think!

Monday 10 November 2008

Back to beading ... but for how long?

As promised after my little rant last week, normal beady business has now been resumed. I hope it stays that way too, but I have a fear. For nearly three weeks now I have had an odd 'sensation' in my upper left arm, that's the best way I can describe it really, and it has now developed into a burning pain coupled with a loss of grip in my hand. I suspect it's RSI as I must admit that being a bead addict I have not taken care of myself over the years. I spend long periods of time sitting in awkward positions without taking breaks. I use impossibly long lengths of thread as I don't like to have knots within my work unless it's absolutely necessary and I hold my work with a death-like grip to maintain a really good tight tension. Oh, and I do rather a lot of typing too! Does anyone have any experience of this or tips as to the best way to handle it that they can pass on to me?

Anyway, let's continue with the beady pictures while we can. This week I had a commission. My friend Tracy saw a cuff bracelet I was wearing that I had made for myself to match a stripey top in blues and greens. She wanted the same style but in elegant black with a few touches of silver, together with a matching ring to wear to various Christmas parties. The cuff is just straightforward herringbone, embellished with some size 8 beads zig-zagging down the centre and either side. It has a brick stitch toggle clasp. The ring is made using increasing peyote stitch with a few black diamond Swarovski crystals in the centre and it has a right angle weave band. All quite plain and simple but I think Tracy will look very striking at those parties!

Wednesday 5 November 2008

A little rant ...

I've been blogging for 8 months now and from the start I wanted this to be a happy place to visit and so I kept it bright and breezy with lots of pretty pictures of my two passions of beadwork and flowers. But like my picture in the previous post, this is just an image that doesn't tell the whole truth. This picture was used in my profile in the latest issue of Bead magazine in which I hinted at some of the darkness, and yes it is a picture of me beading in our garden. I heard from one or two people that they liked that image, that they wanted to be me, wearing that dress, beading in that garden. I don't dispute that I am a very lucky person but like most photographs, that picture is posed. Perhaps the way I have portrayed myself is the reason I receive quite a few emails almost demanding to know how to do something without even a please or thank you, or why a few people think it is OK to 'buy' something from me and then not send me the money, or to send me aggressive or abusive messages, or to copy my work without acknowledging me? To be fair, I also receive lots of wonderful messages too and I take the good with the bad and respond to every one in the same kind and friendly way that I would like to be treated.

I hadn't really meant to say all this, but it ties in nicely with the main subject of today's post. My lovely husband Simon was made redundant last month and has so far not found another job. On top of that, on Monday he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis which is an auto-immune disease in which the body attacks itself - in Simon's case it is in his lungs and already his lung capacity is down to 60% of what it should be. It was a scary thing to hear and we knew nothing about this condition, but I have since heard from lots of my beady friends who have or know someone with this problem and with the right treatment the outlook is good. We will get through this together. I am very thankful for the new friends I have found through my beadwork and for those who treat me as an equal human being and see the person behind the image. To the few who seem to either want to be me or have a piece of what they think I have, I would say "Welcome, but not everything in my garden is rosy!"

There, that's got that off my chest - normal beady service will be resumed next week!

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Let's play tag!

It seems there's a tagging epidemic in Blogsville at the moment - everywhere I hop someone is sharing seven interesting but often bizarre 'facts' about themselves! Well I've been tagged twice too, so I thought I'd join in with the fun. I'd like to thank the wonderful Triz of Triz Designs for my first 'tagging' and Leah of the beautiful Michon Jewelry Blog for my second.

So my seven facts to share are:

1) Family legend has it that on my mother's side, our family tree can be traced back to the Pilgrim Fathers, but that we also have a Spanish pirate thrown into the mix. Whether it is true or not, I like this idea as it seems to pretty much sum up the person you see before you today!
2) I am a member of Mensa.
3) I am the only child of an only child and I don't have any children - so this particular Slade line stops right here.
4) I have a penchant for real ale and/or home brew. In fact, Dad has a barrel of homemade nettle ale fermenting right now for our next visit!
5) I don't have any tattoos in any out of the way places, but I do have a rather splendid secret mole ;0)
6) Mum tells me that when I first learnt to read I would start from the bottom right hand corner of a page and read up to the top left. Mum also says that the first time I wrote my name I wrote E, I, R, R, E, K - now this really explains a lot!
7) I am a free spirited Sagittarius born in the year of the snake sssssssssssssssssssss!
Once again I won't be passing this on as everybody I would have tagged has already played the game. As usual, I would encourage you to explore some of the blogs and sites listed on my side bar, or the links to the Etsy Bead Weavers or Entrecard.

Other news is that the two winners of the Awareness Ribbon Pins have been announced on Beading Daily. It was a difficult decision as there were so many moving stories. If you have time, follow this link and read the two winning entries - there is also space to leave a comment at the end if you wish.

Friday 17 October 2008

Ingredients ...

Just a short blog today as I've spent far too much time on the computer recently and I really must get on with some beading today. I have loads of new project ideas in my head and various notes scribbled everywhere, but none of that is any good if I don't actually put the time in and try to create them! So, here is a quick picture of the ingredients for the project I plan to start today ...

... I went on a bead buying spree earlier this week and came back with lots and lots of Delicas in a gorgeous shiny dark green (shade number 175) some very expensive 24k lined cream opal Delicas (shade number 230) a bag of beautiful semi-matte blue Delicas (shade number 630) a string of Lapis Lazuli beads, a Swarovski crystal Cosmic Ring and some thread. I'll keep you posted with some 'work in progress' shots, but in the meantime I'd love to hear your ideas of what you think it's going to be!

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Not that again???

I know I have blogged about my Ribbon Awareness Pins countless times now, and some of you will be bored of seeing the same old photos instead of lovely shiny new beadwork, but I am still getting quite a lot of people asking me where they can find the pattern. The fundraising aspect has now finished but the pattern is available as normal in the Beading Daily shop and if you click here and then click on the title 'Ribbon Awareness Pins' you will be taken to the relevant page where you can purchase and download the pattern. Of course October is breast cancer awareness month and I have noticed that lots of bloggers have added a pink ribbon logo to their blog, so I have followed suit and changed my banner for this month only. I am currently in the process of reading through all the entries for the Power of Beading Contest - the winners will be announced on Beading Daily by October 20th. A big thank you to everyone who entered the contest and shared their stories about how beading helped them through a challenging time.

Other news is that the talented and lovely Victoria of Three Fates Design passed on an 'I love your blog award' to me - thank you Victoria! As I have mentioned previously, although I am very grateful for having received a blog award, I don't pass them on as I don't want anyone to feel left out. I have a very long list of blogs and websites on my side bar, a link to all the Etsy BeadWeavers blogs, a link to Bead Artists who blog and of course Entrecard. All of these bloggers are deserving of an award in my view, and I would encourage you to explore some of these links.

Finally, I was also excited to see that another lovely fellow Etsy BeadWeaver, Kim of Regal Beads, has created a treasury entitled 'Little Black Dress' and included my Supernova Choker - thank you Kim!

Talking of the Etsy Beadweavers, all the fabulous entries for this months challenge 'Animal Instinct' have been added to our team blog - take a look, voting begins on October 9th.

See you next week!

Wednesday 1 October 2008

A new trend!

I've been busy busy making floral cufflinks over the last week or so. I came up with the design for these some months ago and sent them to a beading magazine to see if they would be interested in them as a project - they wanted the flowers ... but not as cufflinks! So the flowers will appear in a future publication as a charm bracelet, which I am quite happy about, but I still think that floral cufflinks are a nice idea - maybe I'm just ahead of my time ;)

So I was quite surprised on a shopping trip last weekend, to see that this season all the major stores are now carrying not only gents, but ladies shirts with cufflinks! They are lovely as they are, but to me they look a bit plain as most of the cufflinks that come with the shirts are just little cream or white enamel discs. So I thought I would become a trendsetter - I bought myself one of these shirts and made some floral cufflinks to wear with it that also match a beautiful amethyst and teal angora top I have - perfect as the weather has become decidedly cool here in the UK!

When I first started making floral cufflinks, I tried to make relatively life-like flowers, such as poppies, apple blossom and wild rose and I have sold a few pairs of these, but now I have decided to add to this range with some 'fantasy flowers' that are just beautiful rich autumnal colours with either glass pearl or freshwater pearl centres. There are currently five pairs of floral cufflinks for sale in my Etsy shop or via my website and I will be adding to these in the near future - I am also happy to take commissions for any colour.

I used to call these 'ladies cufflinks' as I also make much plainer 'gents cufflinks' (see above) but I have sold a couple of pairs of poppy cufflinks to gentlemen, so I now consider them to be unisex, although of course you have to be a pretty cool guy to wear them! Both types have a sterling silver chain and bar attached. Why not treat yourself to a pair of beaded cufflinks and be a trendsetter with me!

Monday 29 September 2008

A reminder and some news ....

Tomorrow (September 30th) is the last day of my charity fundraiser in conjunction with Beading Daily. So if you are interested but haven't had chance to download the pattern for my Ribbon Awareness Pins yet, there's not long left! Remember it's only $3 (approximately £1.50) and ALL funds raised go to charity. All the details can still be seen here.

Some of you know that my work is displayed at Studio 61, a gallery in the picturesque heart of the Derbyshire Peak District. This coming weekend they are holding a jewellery festival and I will be there along with other artists demonstrating our arts and crafts. This will be an informal event where you can meet and chat to the designers and watch them at work. There will also be an opportunity to buy work via the gallery and craft shop. There is an ice-cream parlour, an art cafe and FREE parking so it should be a great day out!

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Publications, profiles and patterns to purchase!

It's been less than a week since my last blog post, but I have more news to share!

Issue 12 of the UK magazine Bead is out! Can you believe that this magazine is now two years old? In this issue I have two projects - "Daisy Chain Necklace" and "Magic Carpet Pendant" and also a three page profile. I have been quite candid in this interview and so if you would like to learn about some of the fact behind the fiction (my life hasn't always been filled with flowers!) with lots of beady eye-candy thrown in, it's available now. This magazine is also available online - see here for details.

I also wanted to tell you that a selection of my patterns are now available to purchase via the Beading Daily online store. I have set up a new page on my website and added the relevant links - please feel free to browse. If you wish to find out more about any of the projects, such as materials, tools and techniques, simply click on the title of the project and you will be taken to the relevant page of the Beading Daily online store. If you then wish to purchase any of the projects, follow the links and the pattern will be delivered to you by electronic download - modern, simple and quick! Below are pictures of the projects currently available, but please bear in mind that these are my photos of my own work and that the colours may vary from those shown in the actual pattern. If you have any queries, please contact me via my website.

See you next week!

Friday 12 September 2008

Beading Hearts!

The Power of Beading Contest ends today (although you can still buy the pattern for my Awareness Pins here with all monies raised until September 30th going to charity) so it's time for a fresh start and a new project, although this one is also for charity.

Some of my fellow Etsy BeadWeavers team members have volunteered to take part in Jeanette Shanigan's 2009 Breast Cancer Donation Project - "Bead artists have the heart to take on breast cancer". Each year a theme is set, this time it's hearts, in 2007 it was butterflies and the 2008 theme was roses. Jeanette collects all donated beaded squares and stitches them into quilts which are then auctioned off at the Bead & Button show to raise money for charity.

I have spent the last week making four squares to donate to this wonderful project and it has been a lot of fun as well as a personal challenge. I started out by mulling over various heart related proverbs and sayings to see what images they would conjure up in my mind. When I began to think about it, I was amazed by just how many heart clich├ęs there are, but I settled on three and set about experimenting with stitches to see which ones would be most suitable - I wanted each square to be different and have it's own little theme. I was only going to make three squares, but then I had another idea and made a fourth square "United Hearts" with a red and white heart on a blue background symbolizing 'the pond'!

I have never had to restrict the size of my beadwork before and as the rules state that each square must only be 1½ inches by 1½ inches, it took me quite a while to get the bead count of each square exactly right. The finished squares also have to be stitched to interfacing, ready to be sewn up into a quilt and this was the part I found most challenging as 'normal' sewing is beyond me - let's just say, you don't want to see the back of my squares!

So here they are shown from the top in the order that I made them; Ace of Hearts using Square stitch, Look into your Heart using Herringbone and a small acrylic mirror, Hearts and Flowers using two-drop Brick stitch, size 15 seed beads and a freshwater pearl and United Hearts using three-drop Brick stitch with a Square stitch heart attached.

Although it will be some time yet, I look forward to seeing the finished quilts and I hope they raise a substantial amount of money for the designated charities. In the meantime, I would love to hear what you think about my squares.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

The power of beading and the power of the internet community!

I hadn't intended to blog again until after the finish date of the Power of Beading Contest & Charity Fundraiser as I thought it would make it easier for people to access the details. But ... I have had so much great support from my fellow beaders that I felt a little credit was due. So, in no particular order, here are the links to some of my 'bead buddies' who have kindly spread the word for me via blogs etc.
SuzyQ of Beadweaver
JoJo of Unique You
Bianca Velder of Bianca Velder Creations
Margot Potter of The Impatient Blogger
Christine of ChrisBeads
Caroline of Crafted Gems
Lorraine of Lorraine's Place
Zoya Gutina of Gem and Beaded Jewelry and also Zoya's August newsletter
Jean Power of
Ileana of Enchanted Beads
A huge "Thank you!" goes out to each and every one of them and if I have missed you off the list, or you have blogged about it, or put a link on your website, and I don't know, just send me a reminder and I will add your link to the list.
Don't forget the instructions are still available to purchase via Beading Daily and ALL funds raised go to charity. The contest to win one of two pins beaded and donated by me runs until September 12th.

Other news is that the October issue of Bead & Button is now out and the instructions for my Double Dragon neckpiece are on page 50.

I have also been fortunate to have several pieces of work included in various Etsy treasuries and although it has now expired, I curated a treasury with the title 'Raising Awareness!' to complement my fundraising project and to highlight the many other Artists on Etsy who create awareness ribbon themed items to raise money for charity.

Monday 4 August 2008

An exciting announcement!

Yes, I have some exciting news to share! From August 11th, my Awareness Pins project will be available on Beading Daily and there will be two aspects to this project - a charity fundraiser and a contest.

The instructions for the project will be available to purchase from Beading Daily and all funds raised from sales during August and September will be divided between two international charities - The Wellness Community and the American Institute for Cancer Research ( a member of World Cancer Research Fund International).

In addition, I have made and donated two Awareness Pins which will be the prizes in The Power of Beading Contest. The official entry form is on the Beading Daily website. Beaders will be asked to tell how beading helped them through a challenging time, I love this theme as I feel that without beads I probably wouldn't be here today! The two prizes are a Pink Ribbon Pin (to represent breast cancer awareness) with a 9ct gold stick pin, and a Teal Ribbon Pin (to represent ovarian cancer awareness) with a sterling silver stick pin.

Beading Daily have also added clear copyright details (which cover this project only) for me. I would like to encourage as many people as possible to get on board with this project and to make these pins in any colour they wish to represent the causes closest to their hearts. I am happy for people to donate them, raffle them, sell them to raise money for the charity of their choice - whatever, so long as the money goes to charity. I am hoping that this could actually be a lot of fun and a great way to raise money for local hospitals, hospices, education and support around the world. I originally created these pins to help raise some funds for the local hospital where Mum received excellent treatment for breast cancer, but which is chronically short of funds - it may be a drop in the ocean, but every little helps. However, I am really not comfortable with people making these for personal gain, as to me it is against the spirit of the whole project. I have given my time freely in designing, creating and helping to organise this project as it is ALL meant to be about charity, so I do hope that everyone will understand my aims and respect my wishes. If you have any doubts or queries, please contact me via my website.

Beading Daily is free to join and offers a wealth of bead related information delivered straight to your inbox! It also has on-line forums where like minded people can get to know each other and share information, and readers will have the option of sharing their personal stories and photos regarding their fundraising activities too.

If anyone has a blog and would be prepared to post about this project for me to help me spread the word, that would be great, and again if you need any more information, please contact me.

Oh and if anyone is wondering - I will be donating my designers fee to Cancer Research UK

Thank you for reading this;

Kerrie x

Tuesday 22 July 2008

A gap in the blog!

Guilty as charged! I have not blogged for almost three weeks! This is mainly due to the fact that I visited my parents for the whole of last week as it was Mum's birthday on the 17th July - Happy Birthday Mum!
I forgot to take my camera with me on holiday last week and missed lots of wonderful photo opportunities - the Kent countryside is at it's best at the moment with green trees and golden corn fields, poppies and daisies in fields and verges, gardens filled with fruit and flowers, vast blue skies, butterflies, birds and nature everywhere. I had a very happy time. Whilst we were there we read a newspaper article about ancient trees, one of which is only about two miles from my parent's house and so we went in search of the Law Day Oak. This tree is reputed to have been around since the reign of Queen Elizabeth the 1st and it turns out we have actually driven past it numerous times, but never really noticed it as it's set back a bit. I wanted to hug it but it was quite close to someone's garden so I resisted the urge!

Talking of poppies and corn, I have several projects out at the moment, one of which is my Poppies in the corn choker which is in the latest issue of Bead magazine that is just out. I have two projects in this issue, the other one being my Dragonfly Pendant which is the final one in the series of three.

I have now received my contributors copy of the August/September issue of Beadwork magazine and I am thrilled with the way my Olive Earrings and Periwinkle Choker have turned out with some great photography! I was also very excited to see that the latest issue of the Bead & Button email newsletter shows a picture of my Double Dragon necklace in the 'Coming in October' section.

Apart from the published projects I had two more pieces of lovely news on my return from my holiday, both involving my wonderful fellow Etsy BeadWeavers Street Team members. One is that Sarah of The Beaded Lily featured me on her beautiful blog Sketchbook in this profile - thank you Sarah! And finally, Ileana of Enchanted Beads created a gorgeous black and white Etsy treasury west which includes my Supernova Choker - thank you Ileana!