Monday 29 July 2013

Prima Bead product of the month - July!

Hello everyone!

Do you remember me telling you about the new Prima Bead Blog Team and how our first products to review were items from the new Stainless Steel Elegance range? Well with just two days to spare I have completed my first task using 7 of the 8 stainless steel products that were sent to me.  If you follow my blog you will know that my real passion involves weaving hundreds of teeny tiny seed beads into various weird and wonderful shapes, but as there wasn't a single solitary seed bead in the welcome pack I received from Prima Bead I had to change tack and blow the dust off my pliers. First of all I made a fun pair of earrings which I have called 'Inspirational Dangles'.

The ingredients for these joyful little earrings that swing and dance as you walk are:

As I still had quite a lot of the circle link chain left, I decided to make another pair of swinging earrings but this time I snuck in a little bit of beadweaving too, using my free Gumdrops In My Garden pattern from Bead & Button magazine.

The ingredients for these cute summery earrings are:

And finally I used up the last of the chain, the third style of earring findings, the stainless steel round beads and a couple of lovely metal accent beads from the welcome pack to create a pin, ring and earring set which I've called City Nights.

The ingredients for this stylish urban set are:

So the only thing I didn't manage to use this time around were the spring ring clasps but let's wait and see what the August product of the month is - maybe I will manage to incorporate them into something next month.

I had a lot of fun working out what to make with these beautiful Stainless Steel Elegance items and I hope that my little makes will inspire you to experiment too. The high quality findings were all a pleasure to work with and although sterling silver would normally have been my metal of choice, I would definitely work with stainless steel again as despite taking more effort to manipulate than silver, it has a lovely look and feel to it and I like the slightly edgy look it lends to designs. Of course being non-tarnish and hypoallergenic is a plus point too.

If you would like to keep up with my beady news, be sure to complete the 'Follow by Email' box at the top of my blog.

See you next time!


Saturday 20 July 2013

Stripe Mania!

Hello everyone!

This is going to be an unusual post from me because firstly this is the second post in one week (I'm normally a sporadic blogger) and secondly because it will be very long as I have been saving up lots to say! I have been working as a kind of ambassador for the giant Czech Republic based bead manufacturer Preciosa Ornela for almost a year now and my first assignment was to work with their Twin™ seed beads which I blogged about here and Preciosa wrote about here. My next task was to work with their range of striped seed beads and I spent many weeks between January and May experimenting and trying to create a collection that would showcase their diversity and potential. Although I have been able to show a few of my striped pieces that either appeared in magazine adverts or projects, I was asked not to show the full collection until Preciosa had chance to photograph the pieces and write an article for their website about our collaboration, which they have now done and you can see it here.

Although I have built up a vast collection of seed beads, I did not possess one single striped bead and until I started working with them I had no idea of the beautiful range of colours and finishes available - from the basic blue and white striped bead to shade number 94050 that is technically a boring sounding brown with a black and white stripe but actually looks like a gorgeous shiny maroon with an ab finish. I also discovered what interesting effects you can create by using striped beads and it was quite a lesson to me how different a bag of unassuming striped beads can look when herringboned or brick stitched together. I can happily say that I am a complete convert to the Czech glass striped seed bead and I will certainly be using them again in the future! The first striped pieces I created were three critters - Flash the owl, Podger the rabbit and Crusty (the fox with the LONG tail and the SHORT temper). I used solely blue and white striped beads for these as I was inspired by the Chinese blue and white porcelain animal shaped beads I had seen. I have to say that I am really happy with the way these turned out and how they all seem to have their own personalities. Little Flash was lucky enough to appear in a full page advert in Beadstyle magazine and Digital Beading Magazine.

My next experiments with stripe beads resulted in Stripes in Bloom. I fell in love with these purply blue beads with the thin white stripes as soon as I saw them and I thought that paired with the green beads with the yellow stripe they would make a striking floral brooch/pin. It just so happened that I had a Czech glass button in my collection with the same colours in it and so I used that as an eye-catching centrepiece. This piece appeared in an advert in Bead & Button magazine

As St. Valentine's Day was fast approaching I was inspired to make some simple folksy Rustic Hearts next. These use size 6 beads so they are quite large, but with a narrow strip of ribbon threaded through the top they make nice little home decoration ornaments.

Next in line it was Floribunda Bangle - a big bold statement piece that uses a mixture of white based beads with a thin coloured stripe of either red, blue or green. I often like to make jewellery that can be worn in more than one way and these flowers (half red with a blue stripe and half blue with a red stripe but all with a green stem) can be slipped onto a bangle and worn as a full floral display or you can wear just a few or even a single one on a chain as a pretty pendant. You can find the instructions for this piece in issue 3 of  Digital Beading Magazine and it also appears on the cover.

While making the flowers for Floribunda Bangle I had some ideas for other shapes of flowers and as I still had lots of brightly coloured stripe beads that I hadn't had chance to use, I decided to make Podger an ornamental garden. There are twelve tasty flowers in Podger's Garden and each one is a slightly different shape and all of them are freestanding which means that they can be moved around to create different scenes.

In April I took a big bag of striped beads with me to Spain for a couple of weeks (and yes, I did get stopped by bemused customs officials at the airport) and whilst enjoying the sunshine I whipped up a couple more stripey creations. Despite being surrounded by the vibrant colours of the Spanish flora and fauna, the first piece I made was a monochrome necklace: Czecherboard Vine. I really enjoyed working with these beads as they have a matte finish which is so soft and smooth that they are not only lovely to work with but feel great against the skin when worn too.

The green and yellow beads I used for Stripes in Bloom seemed to lend themselves to making realistic looking knobbly vines and leaves and so (still in Spain) I went back to colour and made a matching necklace and bracelet: Stripitwisticus Major and Stripitwisticus Minor.

By the time I returned home from Spain I had hardly any time left to finish working with the striped seed beads but I still had some beads that I hadn't got around to using - remember those 94050 brown beads with the black and white stripe? Well hopefully Pinstripe Petals and Sliding Stripes show you just what a beautiful finish these beads have. If I could only pick one striped bead, it would be these.

Well that's my news with lots of pretty pictures of what I was up to during those missing months! I hope you enjoy the results of my beady efforts with these Czech glass striped beads - let me know which one is your favourite piece and whether these will perhaps inspire you to do some stripey experiments of your own.

See you next time!


Tuesday 16 July 2013

Prima Bead Blog Team!

Hello everyone!

Despite being a frantically busy beader, I have accepted yet another challenge that I found just too good to resist and I am happy to announce that I'm now a Prima Bead Blog Team member! So what does this mean and how does it work?

Well, firstly Prima Bead is a division of the large US based Cousin Corporation which specialises in jewellery making supplies and they have created this brand new team to tell the world about their products. There are 10 team members - 8 are based in the US, 1 member lives in Canada and then there's me in the UK.  Each member is an experienced blogger and has a passion for craft and design and although we all have very different styles we will all be sent the same product each month to review. See the Prima Bead Blogger Team links on my sidebar to learn about the other members and to visit their beautiful blogs - be sure to visit them all regularly to keep up with the news and to see what we all make from the same set of items.  The first products we have been asked to review are items from their non-tarnish hypoallergenic Stainless Steel Elements range.

Yesterday I received my 'Welcome Pack' from Prima and as you can see they have certainly made us all feel very welcome! But let's be honest here ... although I am thrilled to be part of the team and I love receiving beady bounty ... there is not one single seed bead in that box! If you follow my blog you will know that seed beads are my thing and so you might be wondering what I have got myself into, but you will also know that there is nothing I like better than a challenge. Remember the time Beads Direct challenged me to make something with a mystery pack or when they asked me to review their Art Clay Silver Masterclass? Or what about when E-Beads (now I-Beads) challenged me to make their logo in beads? That was a tough one! And then of course there was the time The Beadsmith invited me to use some of their clasps in my work and more recently I have been thinking up ideas to showcase Preciosa's range of beads.  So although I will admit to being nervous about this new venture, I am no stranger to this type of work and so I am very excited and I can hardly wait to dive into that wonderful 'Welcome Pack' and get the cogs of my beady brain turning.

See you soon with more beading news!