Tuesday 31 December 2013

Farewell 2013!

Hello everyone!

Well it's that time again, the end of another year. At this point in time I like to stand on an imaginary threshold and look over my shoulder reviewing the past year while taking an excited peek at the coming year. For me, 2013 was a year of incredible highs and terrible lows with one event that very nearly stopped me beading, it nearly stopped me breathing if I am honest but I am hopeful that 2014 will be kinder to me and that nothing will ever take the shine off my beads. Looking back I can see that I have been blogging for 6 years now and written 152 blog posts. My work has changed and yet stayed the same but my confidence has grown and I have formed some strong relationships with various people and companies in the bead world and although I carry a lot of sadness right now I find myself in a good solid place ready to move into the new year and to bead on. There are lots of plans in the pipeline which I will share throughout 2014 but before I put the lid on 2013 I have a few links and pictures to share - December has been a busy month!

The first piece of news is that one of the Kumihimo pieces I created for Prima Bead has been published in the latest issue of Bead & Button magazine and it made the cover! Looking at that cover really makes me smile and appreciate the good things that happened in 2013 as although I designed the project, it is very much a collaborative piece involving some of the people and companies that I have joined forces with: the tools and the push to learn Kumihimo were provided by Prima Bead, the grey seed beads fit in with my Midnight Garden collection and came from my friend Kandra at Kandra's Beads, the silver flowercup beads are by Preciosa Ornela and came from www.yorkbeads.com, the beautiful clasps came from A Grain Of Sand and of course the project was published by Bead & Button magazine.

In the same issue of the magazine there is also an 'Artist Profile' featuring my recent work and in it I talk a lot about my collaborations with Prima Bead, Preciosa and York including my recent work with striped seed beads and many of the new bead shapes on the market. The hard work of the recent couple of years seems to have come together beautifully and I am very grateful to all of these people and more for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do.

Just a few days prior to the Kumihimo project and profile being published in the magazine, Bead & Button also released another one of the projects I created for Preciosa Ornela as a FREE digital download. This time it is a quick and easy bangle that uses the new Pellet™ beads and all you need to do is to click on this link and then either sign in or register to download the pattern.

And a few days before that, issue 7 of Digital Beading Magazine (another favourite of mine) was released and I have two designs in this issue, one of which was shown on the cover of the magazine. Holiday Hearts (shown above) was created for Preciosa Ornela earlier this year as part of my striped seed bead collection but we decided that these quick and easy rustic looking hearts made perfect tree decorations and so I made a few more to decorate the editor's Christmas tree!

The other project that appears in Digital Beading Magazine is one of the designs I created for Preciosa using their exciting new Thorn™ beads and the project includes instructions on how to make these eye-catching bracelets and rings.

So that is how the year ended and today I am reflective and thankful but tomorrow I will begin working on the glittering pile that beckons me and seeing where the path of 2014 leads me.

Happy New Year everyone!


Wednesday 4 December 2013

Neon Nights!

Hello everyone!

Just a quick blog entry today to let you know that Bead & Button magazine have released another FREE download of one of the patterns I created for Preciosa Ornela. This time it is my stained glass effect Neon Nights pins which I originally blogged about here. Simply click on this link and then either sign in or register to download the pattern and start beading.




If you would like to purchase some of the Preciosa size 10 neon seed beads that I used to make these pins, then my friend Kandra stocks them here.

That's all for now - see you next time!


Monday 25 November 2013

Prima product of the month - November/December!

Hello everyone!

As we are all busy bees and as the end of the year is approaching, Prima Bead combined the November and December assignments and sent each member of the blogging team similar items, asking us to make something to wear to an imaginary New Year's Eve party. I was really looking forward to getting my teeth into this one as my mind was full of ideas when I first opened the box and saw lots of gorgeous items from the Jewelry Basics range. However, unfortunately I have a little family crisis on my hands at the moment and although I don't want this to prevent me from fulfilling my beady commitments, I have had to scale down my plans and just make a couple of items rather than the elaborate party wear I had intended. Nearly all of the items I received from Prima were a mix of classic black and silver including a very long strand of lovely black glass pearls so first of all I mixed the pearls with some black rondelles to whip up a quick and easy cocktail ring:

A few days before this I had been busy writing up the instructions for my Twin™ bead lariat and as the pattern was still fresh in my mind, I decided to make another one of the flowers using black Twin beads and suspend it from a strung necklace of the black glass pearls interspersed with sterling silver beads. I have recently begun working with A Grain Of Sand and I will be incorporating some of their stunning clasps in my work and I thought this black and silver clasp finished off the new necklace perfectly.

And finally, just because I couldn't resist  the elegant simplicity of it (and you know me and ribbon!) I added this lovely little metal bow to a length of black ribbon to make an easy wrist corsage.

I will have lots of other things to show you before the end of the year (crisis permitting!) but this is the last 'Prima product of the month' post for 2013. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with Prima and I can't wait to see what the team receives in January.

See you next time!


Saturday 16 November 2013

Catching the 94050 to who knows where ...!

Hello everyone!

I think you know by now that I am a big fan of making the most of the technological age that we live in: I Pin, I blog, I Tweet, I Facebook, I'm LinkedIn and I put my photos in the bucket. My computer enables me to do all of the above as well as connect with beaders around the world, share photos, order beads, write tutorials and it emails patterns to my customers whether they live in Guadeloupe or Tasmania or virtually everywhere in between. I am truly grateful for having these opportunities at my fingertips and I love that the beading world has no real boundaries which is why I enjoy it when beads go on a journey:-

This story starts with these gorgeous striped seed beads from Preciosa Ornela which were made in the Czech Republic. Remember those beautiful shade number 94050 beads that I fell in love with earlier this year? If you read their description of 'brown with a black and white stripe' you may never look at them twice and although these have an AB finish, they still hide their beauty when they are packed tightly together in their bags - but take a look what happens when they are set free!

Although these beads already have a long and interesting story of their own, the next chapter saw them sent to me in England. At first I just opened the bags and marvelled at their glossy beauty, mesmerised by the rich colours and flashes of gold with visions of faraway spice markets, ripe juicy berries and exotic blooms filling my mind. And then I got out my Fireline and wove them together.

The finished pieces were then returned to Preciosa in the Czech Republic where they were professionally photographed and shown on Preciosa's website and Flickr page before being sent back to England.

The next instalment saw the two pieces temporarily separated and the Pinstriped Petals went to discover the delights of Australia and to be photographed for Digital Beading Magazine. If you would like to purchase the pattern for this design, it is available in issue 6 of the magazine.

The little Flower Slides on their burgundy ribbon, flew in the opposite direction to the USA where they were photographed by Bead & Button magazine and the pattern for this is now available as a free download.

These particular travelling 94050's will soon be making their way back to England again as their work in spreading the word about their beauty is done. But I still have lots more waiting to be woven and with the world at my fingertips, who knows where they will go ...

See you next time!


Friday 1 November 2013

Prima product of the month - October!

Hello everyone!

Yes it's time for my fourth Prima product of the month post. You may remember that for our first assignment everyone in the group was asked to create something using items from the Stainless Steel Elegance collection, the second challenge involved Prima's Kumihimo range and last month we were all sent 'Tis the Season products. This month was a bit different as all the team members were sent a fun questionnaire to enable the folks at Prima to hand pick our October products and tailor them more towards our likes and strengths. It will come as no surprise  to you to learn that I may have mentioned 'beads' once or twice in my answers and so when my box arrived I was pleased to see that it contained lots of seed beads together with a few sweet little charms and some unusual black findings. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the first three challenges, I had to brush up on some almost forgotten techniques and learn some new ones in order to keep up, so it was nice just to be able to bead this time. Apart from the beautiful colours of seed beads, the first thing that caught my eye was a little seahorse charm and so I mixed it with some silver-lined teal seed beads from Prima and added a few pearls from my stash and a little piece of cream organza ribbon to create 'The Mermaid's Assistant'. I intended this to be a whimsical little item that you could hang in a window, or perhaps on the rear-view mirror of a car, as the seaweed drapes beautifully around the seahorse's head and the little basket of pearls swings freely from the tail, but you could always add a chain and wear it as a necklace.

Next I pulled a hank of pre-strung seed beads out of the box. These were already nicely arranged in sections of two different coloured pinks with purple and they would look great simply strung as they were, but instead I took my scissors to the strands and separated the beads into piles of the same colour. Then I brick stitched three little hearts and added a connector to the front of each one to create Love, Faith and Hope Pins.

By then the end of the month deadline was approaching but I wanted to make sure that I used those black findings in something. So I quickly whipped up a couple of little herringbone flowers with the black seed beads Prima sent me, added a red crystal to the tip of each one as a contrast and hung them from black jump rings and earwires. I just had enough time left to make a matching bracelet by attaching a smaller flower to a length of black chain. I then added a clasp and lots of decorative dangles made from the head pins, jump rings and the remaining crystals and seed beads to make Fiery Nights bracelet and earrings set.

So that's it for another month! I have no idea what the 'product of the month' will be for November but Prima Bead has a huge range of products so let's wait and see!

See you next time!


Thursday 17 October 2013

Meeting Marcia!

Hello Everyone!

I've been aware of Marcia DeCoster's amazingly intricate beadwork ever since I first started beading and I remember marvelling over her creations in my copy of Masters: Beadweaving back in 2008 before I had ever had anything published.  When I first started out, I never dreamt that I would be creating my own designs or that I would ever meet some of my beading heroes and heroines, but when I joined Facebook in 2009 (to follow an old school friend on her travels around the world) I discovered a huge online community of beaders and made a connection with several of my favourites - Marcia being one of them. We've kept in touch over the years and Marcia has always been very supportive of my work, so when I found out that she was coming to England and she asked if I would be able to meet in person ... what do you think I said?

Marcia has been teaching some workshops in The Midlands and so Simon and I drove to meet Marcia and her husband Mark at the house of their hosts, Stephney and Tim. As you can probably imagine, the boys have heard enough about beads to last them a lifetime and so they stayed in the kitchen chatting about football, prize marrows and beer, while us girls took ourselves off to the sitting room to fondle beads. Marcia had previously asked me to take LOTS of beadwork with me to show her and so I took her at her word and took two shoeboxes filled with everything from Popper Flowers to Yorkie. Marcia loves the internet just as much as I do and so as well as stroking beads she was busily taking pictures and providing her Facebook friends with a live account of proceedings via her iPad!

I made Marcia a couple of little owls as a gift and as you can see from the picture below, they were slightly alarmed by the bead orgy that surrounded them and so they remained perched on high.

Of course Mr. and Mrs Prickles are old hands at this kind of thing and so they wandered over to inspect Marcia's beautiful work without a moments hesitation. Just look at them trampling all over Marcia's gorgeous bracelet.

After a delicious lunch of homemade pizza and coleslaw, the boys headed off to a brewery museum and we went to visit a local group of ladies who were busily beading and quilting and producing all sorts of lovely work. I hadn't taken any work in progress with me, so instead I sat next to Marcia who patiently showed me how to do Cubic Right Angle Weave as she worked on samples of her newest designs. Things took a slightly unexpected turn as we got up to leave though, as Marcia dropped some of her tiny beads and we all got on our hands and knees trying to find them. Picking gold beads off a blue carpet is quite a fun game, but finding the turquoise beads was a different matter!

Next it was back to the house for another cup of tea and a bit more chat as we waited for the boys to stagger back from the brewery. As you can see, we were all having a lovely time and I am so glad that I also got to see some of Stephney's amazing beadwork too - you can't see it very well as it is behind the door, but I was particularly taken by a loomwork family tree complete with intricate beaded script.

And finally the day was drawing to a close and it was time to begin untangling the mound of beadwork on the table and to pack everything away. During the day I'd had the opportunity to handle some of the actual pieces from Marcia's new book Beads In Motion and at the end of the day, Marcia kindly signed my copy of the book which I will treasure as the perfect keepsake from a very memorable day.

See you next time!


Wednesday 9 October 2013

The sparkle shower continues!

Hello Everyone!

Remember in this blog post how I talked about the sparkles that are currently appearing in my life? And how I had decided to adjust my previously carefully mapped course and instead to raise my face, open my arms and dance in the sparkle shower while it lasted? Well, one of those 'sparkles' is my work with Preciosa Ornela and I have to say that not for one moment do I regret welcoming this particular shining opportunity into my life. My first 'assignment' was to show ways to use their Twin™ beads, next came the striped seed beads followed by the neon beads and my latest work for them uses the brand new exciting Thorn™ and Pellet™ beads.

As you know, up until recently I have been a hardcore seedbeader and so other bead shapes always make me scratch my head and wonder how to use them, but I had no problem at all with the Thorns and Pellets as they work so well alongside the seed beads. For my first design I used some silver Thorns and mixed them with some plain black seed beads to create the dramatic and spiky looking Thornstar ring and bracelet set.

The shape of the Thorn beads looked so much like petals that I thought I had to try making some flowers with them. So still mixing them with seed beads I made little flowery Thorn Daisy components and threaded three onto black satin ribbon to create a wrist corsage style bracelet. I loved the fluffy look of the centre of these flowers and they were so quick and easy to make that I also made a set of three Thorn Daisy rings.

There are lots of other experiments I would like to do with the Thorn beads but  at that time they were very new and I only had a small supply and so I moved onto playing with Pellets. I soon discovered that despite their unusual shape (kind of squat with a waist) they have LOTS of design potential. I went on to mix them with other beads but for my first piece I wanted to show how they look on their own and so out came Pellet Bangles. I love the way these beads snuggle together!

After all that dramatic beadwork I was ready to try something a little more feminine. So I chose some pale Pellets and mixed them with matte gold seed beads and pearls and a length of cream organza ribbon to create the softly romantic looking Pretty Pellets.

By that time more Pellet beads were available in a greater variety of colours and I was really drawn to the opaque red. I always love the look of black and red together and the way that the seed beads curved and ruffled around the Pellets really reminded me of a flamenco dancer's dress - hence Flamenco Pellets for my next piece.

Having discovered what nice little circles these beads make, I was keen to try them in different colours and rather than making interlocking circles I added a lovely shiny black glass pearl in the centre of each component to make the Pellet Wheel bracelet. In this piece you can really see the way the Pellets nestle into each other's waist.

Moving on from the circles I thought it would be nice to try using the Pellets in a different way and so although they naturally want to nestle, I stood them up straight and edged them with seed beads to keep them in place. There are many different colours to choose from but I thought that these turquoise and silver beads worked really well with black beads and silver findings. Diamond Pellets are very simple to make and they work up into very lightweight and easy to wear bracelets and earrings in no time!

By that point my deadlines were approaching but I still had so many beads and ideas that I had to squeeze in one more design to show yet another way to use these new beads. I also thought that I had used rather a lot of black seed beads so far and so this time I chose opaque blue Pellets and mixed them with silver seed beads and glass pearls to make the Pellet Star bracelet.

And then everything had to be quickly packaged up and sent back to Preciosa for photography. Although I try very hard to take decent pictures, I could never hope to achieve the results that the Preciosa photographer does and  I am sure you can see why I am very happy with our collaboration and why I am looking forward to my next 'assignment'. I have only used a small selection of Preciosa's photos for this blog post, but you can see the full set here. I hope you have enjoyed looking at my beady experiments and I also hope that perhaps these ideas have inspired you to purchase some of these exciting new bead shapes to see how you can incorporate them into your designs. Many of the designs shown above are destined to be shared as magazine projects in the next few months and I will of course give more details about when and where as soon as possible.

So that's it for this week and now I am off to catch another sparkle ...

See you next time!