Thursday 9 December 2010

Popper Flowers Workshop in Hamburg!

Well this has been a long time in the planning stages, but I am finally able to tell you that earlier this year, I had the honour of being invited to teach at the first Bead Art Fair in Hamburg (Germany) in 2011 - and of course I said 'Yes please!' to that fantastic offer.  Since then, all of the teachers have been busy preparing their workshop projects and the classes have now been announced and are available for you to book.  The fair is on the 20th and 21st of August 2011 and promises to be a huge and exciting event with lots of exhibitors and classes.  Workshop places are limited (I am offering one class on Saturday and one on Sunday and each has only 10 places available) and I have heard that they are already filling up, so if you would like to book a place, please hurry!

My workshop project is called Popper Flowers!  In the class I will show you how to use a combination of stitches to create two different coloured flowers with a single base of green leaves.  The flowers are interchangeable and so you can pop a flower on, pop a flower off and change them to suit your mood.  The project is to make the Popper Flower into a pendant that you can then hang from a necklace of your choice, but you could just as easily turn your Popper Flower into a brooch, a bracelet, a ring ... anything you fancy really!

The price of the workshop will include the materials (excluding Fireline which you will need to bring with you) and I am offering 3 colour choices.  Kit A has a pink and a purple flower, Kit B has a yellow and a blue flower and Kit C has a black and a white flower - each kit has a different coloured leaf base.  This is an advanced project and will not be finished in class, but we will cover all the tricky bits in class and I will also be providing comprehensive instructions for you to take home to complete your Popper Flowers.  The class will be in English but there will be a German translator on hand.

I think this is going to be a really fun class and I would love to meet you, but don't forget to take a look at all of the other wonderful workshops being offered by a host of great international teachers.  The fair is organised by the German magazine Perlen Poesie and full details can be found on their website be sure to check out all the links under the Messe/Show 2011 tab.

You can see all the available workshops here and the booking form for all workshops is here.  See you at the Bead Art Fair!

Monday 29 November 2010

It's official ...

... I teach beadwork!  This has been a long time coming, but I finally have my first workshop under my belt with several more in the pipeline.  My first class was held at The Bead Shop (Nottingham) Ltd. and it will definitely be a day to remember as we woke up on the morning of the workshop to be greeted by this scene;

We didn't feel that it was safe to drive, but fortunately the buses were still running and so I made it to the workshop on time, and so did the staff at the bead shop and my four lovely eager students.  Although it was a full day workshop, we knew that it wouldn't be possible to complete the Double Daisy project in class, but everyone got stuck in, choosing their colours and juggling peyote stitch, ladder stitch and brick stitch until little petals began to appear.  Keeping my first workshop small with only four students, meant that I could spend lots of time sitting with each student individually, checking that they were on track and also chatting about their favourite bead stitches and admiring some of the beautiful beadwork that they had brought with them.  As well as a lovely spacious (and warm!) workshop area, the bead shop also provided plenty of tea and biscuits which all made for a really enjoyable day before we all had to wrap up and head off home in the snow!

This project was designed exclusively for The Bead Shop (Nottingham) Ltd. but now that the workshop has finished, you can buy the comprehensive 18 page tutorial via my website and make your own Double Daisy!  The instructions cover how to make the finished daisy and include some ideas on ways to use it; you might like to turn yours into a pin/brooch, create a loop of beads at the back to turn it into a pendant or sew it onto finished beadwork or ribbon (as in the picture below) to make a glamorous choker or wrist corsage!

Whatever you decide, have fun and don't forget to send me a picture!  The pdf of the instructions is available for purchase here and will be delivered by email.

Monday 15 November 2010

Another new tutorial!

Back in July, I made Mum a flowery pendant for her birthday, as a sparkly Swarovski crystal Rivoli had caught her eye and she wondered if I could make it into a little flower for her.  Well, as you know, I do like a beady challenge and so I experimented with bezeling the Rivoli for the centre of the flower and then worked on creating some little petals.  I was quite pleased with the end result (and so was Mum!) and I thought that several of them sewn together would make a lovely bracelet, but what with one thing and another, I have only just found the time to work on it.

I thought you might like it too, and so I have spent the last couple of weeks writing instructions, taking photos and drawing lots of diagrams, and the tutorial is now for sale on my website.  This is the fourth tutorial that I am selling directly from my website and I am trying to make them as detailed as possible so that despite the fact that some of them may look quite complicated, all the steps are broken down into easy stages although you will need to know the basic stitches of course.  This is a 21 page tutorial (the longest so far!) but I am keeping my pricing structure simple, so all of my patterns are currently for sale for £6.

One of the things I really love about beadwork, is being able to create a lovely, wearable little piece using only beads, thread, a crystal or two and very little else, and this is a classic example of that - just a Swarovski Rivoli, some seed beads and thread is all that goes into making a beautiful little daisy with a centre that looks like liquid gold.  Of course, you can make these in any colour you wish as there are so many gorgeous Rivoli colours to choose from!

If you would like to make yourself, or someone you love, a Rivoli Daisy, the pattern is available here

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Winter Sparkle!

The new 'Winter Sparkle Special' issue of the UK magazine Bead has hit the shops!  I received a copy today and I have to say it ticks every box; it's wintry, it's sparkly and it's special!

It's packed with all sorts of  themed project ideas from quick party makes to more intricate sparkly wear.  My project Daisy Sliders is on pages 13 - 16 and is a straightforward brick stitch and herringbone project that quickly produces a very pretty and feminine design that can be worn in a number of ways.

I made a necklace and earring set in an icy blue and called it Winter Sky.

And a bracelet or wrist corsage in gold and I called this one Winter Sun.

If you have a go at my project, don't forget to send me a picture and I'll add it to the Readers' Gallery page on  my website.  I can't wait to see what colours you choose for your Daisy Sliders!

Wednesday 22 September 2010

A new tutorial!

I finally managed to lay my hands on some of the new Miyuki Tila beads last week.  I think they have probably been out for a little while now, as I have seen several lovely Tila bead creations on my travels through Blogland, but this is the first time I have had chance to experiment with them.  If you haven't seen them, they are square (5mm x 5mm) but also quite flat as they are only 1.9mm thick, but the big difference is that they have TWO parallel holes running through them!

I must admit that I found them quite a challenge at first, as it was more difficult than I thought to use them with my usual stitches, but after a few false starts I came up with this design which I have called Twinkling Tilas as they remind me of stars.

I have been good and already written the pattern up and it is now available to purchase via my website.  The instructions cover the single row bracelet and also how to make the wider cuff style bracelet.  These little stars are quite versatile and you could turn a single one into a pendant, make two for a pretty pair of earrings or use them to embellish other beadwork!

I bought my Tila beads from The Bead Shop (Nottingham) Ltd and they have a great range of gorgeous colours so you could create lots of different effects - I'm sure the iridescent crystal colour would make a fabulously sparkly bracelet, or even a choker ... perfect for the upcoming party season!

The pattern for Twinkling Tilas is available here .

See you next week!

Monday 13 September 2010

Poppy kits!

Whoops!  Another long gap since I last wrote a blog entry, but I promise that I have been beading until my little fingers bled, and that is no exaggeration!  I will share news and pictures of what I've been up to, next week - but in the meantime I have some other news to tell you about ...

... not only is the tutorial for my poppy design available to purchase on my website you can now buy a kit for this project from RB Beads.  The kit contains all the materials you need to make your own poppy (and the optional leaves) including a needle and thread and worldwide shipping is available - please note that the kit only contains the materials and not the instructions.

See you next week with more exciting news!

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Daisy Workshops ...

Wow this year seems to be flying by!  Back in February I mentioned that I was going to try my hand at teaching later in the year - well it is all arranged and there are just a few weeks to go.  I will be teaching the daisy design shown here, at The Bead Shop (Nottingham) Ltd on Thursday the 9th of September 2010 and Saturday the 27th of November.  This versatile little flower can be made in any colour and then used in a variety of ways - you could turn it into a brooch, or a pendant or even sew it onto ribbon to make a lovely wrist corsage ... lots of possibilities!

This is an intermediate level project and is not really suitable for beginners - the bead shop also runs a great Introduction to Beadweaving class too though, so you don't have to miss out.  To make your daisy, you will need to have a working knowledge of peyote stitch, ladder stitch and brick stitch - although of course I will help you through all the tricky bits and there will be a comprehensive handout to take home.  All materials are provided, and tea and biscuits too, so why not join us for a fun and friendly day, learning how to make your own daisy?  If you would like to book a place, you can do so here but there are only 8 spaces available for each date so hurry!  If you have any queries about the workshop, feel free to contact either the bead shop or myself.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

More Creative Beading ...

Around this time last year, I shared the news that my foxglove necklace had been included in Creative Beading Volume 4 - a yearbook of jewellery projects from the publishers of Bead & Button magazine.  This year, I'm pleased to tell you that I have two designs in Creative Beading Volume 5.  This 256 page hardback book is bursting with fabulous projects ranging from beadweaving to stringing and from wirework to crochet and would be a wonderful addition to any beaders' bookshelf.

My project 'Hibiscus Twist' is on page 142 and 'Wilbur the Dragon' is flashing his gold teeth on page 70!

That's the news for this week!  Hopefully I will be back in the next week or two with some new beadwork to show.  Bye for now ...

Tuesday 6 July 2010

A beady challenge!

A little while ago, Claire from Beads Direct asked if I would be interested in being part of a ‘creative challenge’. The idea was that myself and two members of staff from Beads Direct would all be sent an identical ‘mystery pack’ containing a selection of beads, and we each had to come up with a design based around those beads. Our usual styles of work are all very different from each others, and so the challenge was intended not only to stretch us individually but also to show what diverse designs can be created from the same set of beads. I received my envelope just over two weeks ago, and this is what was in it …

When I first opened the envelope, I was very relieved to see lots of seed beads. I was also thrilled to see the labradorite, I have never worked with it before and often heard about ‘the flash’ but never actually seen it for myself. I looked at the pearls and the silver beads and thought that they shouldn’t present a problem and then I noticed the huge bag of extension chains! I think you know by now that I like to escape to fairyland whenever I can, and so first of all I created a piece inspired by the labradorite and the pearls that also incorporated the extension chains. I imagined a very rare moonlight night, a warm still night, a night full of magic. Only on a night like this, if you are very lucky, something special happens and ‘Under a pearly moon ... the labradorite blooms’.

No sooner had I landed from that flight of fancy and finished this piece, when I thought that perhaps I had not fully entered into the spirit of the challenge as I hadn’t used everything in the pack, and I had also substituted some of my own beads for the seed beads sent to me. It was the last day of the challenge by now and I knew it had to be something relatively quick to make – something that didn’t involve 8 feet of peyote rope! I began looking at the labradorite again, and in the sunshine, it reminded me of the colour of the sea, deep swirling sea with mythical creatures beneath the surface. The pearls seemed to complement the marine theme and yet the seed beads whispered that they would like to become flowers, fantasy flowers. I imagined a Selkie, trapped in human form as her husband had hidden her sealskin. I saw her standing on the shore, looking longingly out to sea but unable to return to her home, and that is when ‘In a Selkie’s garden’ came to life.

I hope that you like the new pieces, but please do let me know what you think (and whether you think I really ought to be locked up!) and I would also love to hear what you would have done with the wonderful contents of that pack. Don’t forget to take a look at the Beads Direct website to find lots of beautiful materials just like these!

Thursday 17 June 2010

Catching up and a new pattern ...

Gulp!  No blog posts for 7 weeks!  Where have I been?  What have I been doing?  Well I can promise you that I haven't been idle, but things have been a bit hectic just recently, so I'm afraid the blog had to have a little rest.  I've been busy behind the scenes, working on new ideas, writing patterns, judging contests, getting involved in challenges and discussing some exciting new teaching plans.  Hopefully I will be able to blog a bit more regularly again now and keep you up to date with what's happening.  So let's start by telling you that I have just finished writing my second tutorial 'Poppy' and it is now available to purchase via my website.

I had a very similar pattern to this one published in Bead magazine at the beginning of 2009, but the back issue is no longer available and several people have recently asked me if I could write my own instructions for it.  I had a group of wonderful 'testers' help me to fine-tune this pattern and so we think we have most of the wrinkles ironed out.  It's amazing how people can interpret things in completely different ways and I learnt a lot about writing patterns from this experience - thank you guys!  The tutorial is now 14 pages long and although it is written in English, there are lots of diagrams and photos to make things easier, and there are also instructions for optional leaves included.  I made the poppy above in traditional red and black, but take a look at the 'Readers' Gallery' page on my website (under Poppy) as there are lots of pictures there that people have kindly sent me, showing poppies in all sorts of colours with some fantastic inspirational design ideas - poppies definitely don't have to be red!

Thursday 6 May 2010

Daisy Sliders

It's been a little while since I've had any new beadwork to show you, but here is my latest design which I have called 'Daisy Sliders' - shown in Winter Sky and Winter Sun.  I created these for the Winter Sparkle Special of Bead magazine, which is due out in October of this year.  I fell in love with this beautiful, softly sparkling organza ribbon in my local craft shop, and I knew that I wanted to find a way to use it in a finished beadwork piece. I chose Swarovski crystal pearls in soft shades of pale blue and gold to fit the theme, and teamed them with some marbled and matt seed beads to make these simple flower 'sliders' which can easily be threaded onto the ribbon.  The ribbon is then tied in a big bow which gives a really lovely feminine feel to the finished piece.  I think they would be perfect for a wrist corsage for a prom or an anklet for a beach wedding - let me know what you think ...

See you next time!

Friday 23 April 2010

Special issue!

The new 'Special colour issue' of Bead magazine is now in the shops and even if I wasn't lucky enough to have work in there, I would still be rushing out to buy it!  This issue is packed with 115 pages of inspirational beady eye candy, a real variety of great projects and fascinating insights into how some designers go about choosing colours.  My project, 'Maid Marian's Quiver' is on page 30 and 'Royal Quiver' is also shown on page 33 to give an idea of how different this project can look, depending on what colours you choose.  I know some of you have been wanting to make your own version of this piece and I can't wait to see pictures of your creations - please do send me a photo and I will add it to the 'Readers' Gallery' page on my website!

My 'Colour Musings' are on pages 34 and 35, along with a selection of pictures to try and illustrate my ideas about colour and to show how I have used it in my work so far.  As you know, I am by no means an expert on colour and although I have a colour wheel and a couple of books on colour theory, I still don't really understand the technical side of it, so I've just kept it to some basic ideas which I hope you will find interesting and maybe try one or two of them in your own work.

I was also really pleased to see the tutorial for my Core Beaded Beads is given a mention in the 'Bead News' section on page 61.  So all in all, this really is a special issue for me!

See you next week!

Friday 16 April 2010

Feeling 'no' but saying 'yes' ...

I've been blogging for just over two years now, and anybody that has been on this journey with me will have heard me say what a nervous person I am ... on more than one occasion! During that time, I've had some great requests and offers, whether it was to start selling my own patterns, teach in this country or even to travel and teach. In previous years I have always let my nerves take over and have said 'Thanks, but sorry, I'm afraid I don't do that'. For whatever reason, I woke up at the beginning of 2010 and felt a little different and now here I am, only 4 months into the year and I'm selling tutorials, I'm signed up to teach and I've said 'yes' to just about every opportunity that has come along. One of these opportunities arose just a couple of weeks ago, when Mona Hair of 'The Jewelry Connection' contacted me out of the blue, to ask if I would be interested in doing a live internet interview. I can clearly remember that day; I was stood in my 'studio' (that also doubles as a spare bedroom, my husband's office and the ironing room) ironing my husband's work shirts and I saw the email come in, opened it, read it and nearly fainted. The biggest shock however, was that I said 'yes'. Mona has been marvellous and held my hand throughout the process and the live interview went out last Sunday.

A couple of minutes before we were due to go 'live' my knees were quite literally knocking, I felt a rising panic and I wanted to snatch off my headphones and run from the room.  Then I saw some familiar friendly names in the chat room and with that wonderful support, I relaxed and managed to get through the interview. It was a bit of a blow though, when I chatted to Mona afterwards and she broke the news to me that there had been a hiccup, it hadn't recorded and we would have to do it all again! We did a re-take last night (although this time without an audience) and I'm very relieved that it recorded successfully. It was a little strange running all through it again and so I think I left some bits out that I said before and I seem to have said enough 'errs' and 'erms' in one hour to warrant a place in the Guinness Book of Records! But anyway, I've done it and I survived, so I am going to continue embracing those opportunities and I hope that this gives other people the courage to do the same - if I can do this, anyone can!

If anyone would like to listen to me trying to answer Mona's questions and talking about the inspiration behind various pieces of work - then the new link is HERE.  Keep an eye on Mona's blog too as I know that she is keen to promote the work of independent artists and has lots of great guests lined up!

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Growth and change ...

It's funny how things change.  I remember back in around 2004, I hadn't been beading for very long and believe it or not, I didn't really know where to buy beads.  I used to buy packs of Mill Hill beads from a large DIY store, and as these were really only meant to embellish embroidery projects, they came in tiny packs and it worked out very expensive if you wanted to make a large beaded project.  Then I heard about a new family-run on-line bead shop that was opening and an open day that they were going to hold at the owner's house.  I went to that first event and had a wonderful time rummaging through the tubes of beads and asking quite simple questions, like the difference between a seed bead and a cylinder bead, and what pliers I would need to create wrapped loops.  That bead shop was Beads Direct and although the company has now changed hands, I have been buying beads from them ever since they first opened.  I have always received excellent, fast and friendly service, with the beads usually arriving the day after ordering them and all beautifully packaged.

Beads Direct has expanded a great deal since those early days and I have grown too, so it was a lovely surprise when Claire, the marketing manager, contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing some work together, which of course I am more than happy to do.  I think just about every one of my published projects, over the years, has used at least some beads from Beads Direct and you can see their great range of seed and cylinder beads here.  Be sure to check out the other goodies they have to offer though as well, such as crystals, pearls, semi-precious stones and a great selection of clasps.  There's lots to look at on their website too, like a collection of 'how to' videos and they also have their own blog - Claire recently asked me some questions about how I came to start working with beads and you can read my answers here.  We are discussing the details at the moment, but one of my projects will soon be available from the Beads Direct website, so keep your eye on their website and blog for details!

Friday 26 March 2010

Fashion Colorworks Beading Contest

I promised my beady friend, the very talented Zoya Gutina, that I would let you know the exciting news about the new contest she is hosting on her website – Fashion Colorworks Beading Contest.

You can make anything you like, as long as it is comprised of at least 50 per cent of seed beads and uses one of the colour combinations shown below. You can enter up to three pieces, one in each colour combination, and collaborations of up to four artists will also be accepted. Entries will be accepted between the 1st of April and the 15th of June, ten finalists will be announced on the 20th of June and the winners will be announced on the 1st of July. See the ‘Contest Rules’ page on Zoya’s website, for full details of the rules and how to submit your entry.

Now, there are lots of good reasons to have a go at this contest, not only is it a great personal challenge to work in set colour combinations, but it’s free to enter, it’s open to international entrants, judging is from photos only (so you don’t have to worry about packing and posting your creation) and there are prizes to be won – how many beading contests can say all of that?

Oh, and if you take a look at the ‘Jurors’ page, you will see that I have the honour of being one of the judges. Thank you Zoya and good luck everyone!

Monday 8 March 2010

Core Beaded Beads ...

Nearly two years ago, when I first saw some beautiful silver core lampwork beads, I had the idea that I would like to try and replicate them in beadwork.  It's a very simple idea, but for some reason it has taken me this long to find the right method and the best stitches to 'build' these.  I use the word 'build' because beading (especially sculptural beadwork) can be a bit like that sometimes - you know you want to build a house, but what bricks to use?  I tried many different stitches and have a big bag full of beaded beads of various shapes, sizes and colours that just weren't quite right.  Some were the wrong shape or size and some wouldn't hold their shape enough and were just a little bit too 'squishy', but finally, I think I am happy with the end result and here are my Core Beaded Beads.

Of course this type of glass bead is very popular at the moment and you often see them threaded on to silver snake chains, so I thought I would complete the effect and make one of those too.  I made a bracelet length and a necklace length and tried out some different colours and patterns.  That is a whole lot of stitching but I am pleased with the results.  I named the first one 'Warrior Queen' as the gunmetal beads reminded me of chainmaille and the metallic purple made me think of royalty.  I stuck with the theme and so went on to make 'Elven Queen' in greens and purples with a gold core and then 'Tudor Queen' in black and white.  These are really satisfying beads to make, they only take a couple of hours each, you can make them in an almost endless variety of colours and they are very easy to wear.  My current favourite way to wear these is to string a few of them onto a piece of velvet ribbon and tie it round my wrist as it stops the beads rolling around.

If you would like to make your own Core Beaded Beads, the pattern is for sale on my website.