Thursday 4 December 2014

Charlotte Flowers!

Hello everyone!

Here I am again with another free party-themed bracelet pattern for you to download and enjoy. This time it is my Charlotte Flowers design which uses Charlottes and Rivolis from Preciosa Ornela to create a row of dazzling star-shaped blooms. You can download the pattern here.

When Preciosa first asked me to create a project for the holiday season, I had all sorts of beady ideas running through my mind; from baubles and brooches to tiaras and tree decorations. In the end though, I settled on an understated yet elegant bracelet that will quietly sparkle on your wrist like snow in the moonlight. I've captured luminous crystal AB Rivolis in nets of glittering silver Charlottes and then added radiant golden petals which appear to reflect the flash of the Rivolis.

As well as being added to the Preciosa project catalogue, this piece has also been used in one of their latest adverts which you can see here. The photo in the advert shows a nice close-up of the gorgeous clasp I used as the finishing touch for my party piece bracelet. It features a beautiful vintage floral brass button set into a sterling silver box clasp and is available from A Grain Of Sand.

I've just worked out that Charlotte Flowers is the seventeenth pattern I have published in 2014 and that's in addition to the patterns I sell via my website and the other forty or so projects that have previously been published (see the side bar for details). I hope my designs give you many happy hours of beading and I aim to bring you more of what you love in 2015.

See you next time!


Monday 1 December 2014

Hexagonal Lace Cuff!

Hello everyone!

I'm happy to tell you that it's free pattern time again! Make lots of six-sided components using a mixture of Preciosa Ornela seed beads, Farfalle™ and Twin™ beads and connect them all together to create this dramatic cuff style bracelet just in time for the party season. You can download the pattern here.

You might not recognise it, but this piece actually started out as Peas and Carrots bracelet which I made in August of last year. Bead and Button magazine wanted something a little more 'subtle' though and so I made another one using a combination of black, silver and half jet and half labrador beads to add a touch of elegance.

This is quite a wide statement piece which needs a secure closure to keep the two halves in place and to prevent the outer rows from furling. On the original bracelet I used a piece of ribbon zig-zagged through two loops to keep everything firmly in place, but for the new colourway I've added two beautiful jet Swarovski box clasps from A Grain Of Sand to create a reliable fastening with a nice streamlined finish.

Whether you choose neon brights or classic black and silver (or something entirely different!) I hope you have fun with the pattern. And feel free to share pictures of your finished piece with me, Preciosa or Bead & Button as we would all love to see your Hexagonal Lace Cuff.

See you next time!


Wednesday 12 November 2014

Kazuri Kritters!

Hello everyone!

Back in August I posted the news that I have become a design team member for Many Hands Marketplace - Kazuri West and I showed you my Samunnat Flowers which use the gorgeous 'Bindu' beads made by the inspirational ladies of Nepal. I mentioned that I also had a small collection of African Kazuri beads and I was hoping to show some pieces made with these before now (but you know how life can sometimes change our plans) but finally, here are my Kazuri Kritters! I always like a touch of whimsy in my life and so as soon as I spotted these little handmade animal shaped buttons I knew they would be a perfect fit for me. I've created a set of three brooches and I've used lots and lots of seed beads from Preciosa Ornela to give each animal their own special shady tree.

Each piece is only 3 inches (8 cm) high but they took many hours to make as the 'leaves' are created with layer upon layer of small seed beads. And so as I was in full whimsical mode, I wrote each animal a little story as I beaded. Read on ...

Cheetah Tree

It's a searingly hot afternoon and Cheetah sits in the shade of his favourite tree. His belly is full from an earlier feast but still he hides in the long grass observing a herd of wildebeest - it's cheetah nature. He frowns as a lazy fly buzzes around him, flicks the tip of his handsome tail and yawns. Cheetah can see far, far into the shimmering distance and yet he doesn't notice a pair of Seeall birds nestled quietly in the foliage right above him. The birds watch Cheetah watching the wildebeest watching a dark shape in the shadow of the well known Cheetah Tree.

Zebra Tree

It's a bright African morning, the sky is cornflower blue with dazzling white clouds billowing on the horizon. Zebra stands under a Scarlet Blossom Tree contemplatively munching a fragrant red flower. His beautiful reverie is broken suddenly by an egret swooping down nearby. Zebra snorts, stamps a hoof and testily swishes his tail about his stripey muscular buttocks. And then he remembers the taste and the smell of those delicious rare ruby blooms that lay in abundance on the ground around him and he licks his lips in contented anticipation. All is right in Zebra's world again.

Giraffe Tree

It's just before sunset. A lone Pearlfruit Tree stands drenched in the heavy honey-dripping light making the fruit gleam like stars in the night sky. Giraffe stands under the tree with the weeping branches swaying and rustling around her slender elegant neck. She knows from experience that the enticing looking fruit are bitter to taste and will only dry her already parched and dusty throat even further - the real prize is the young fresh leaf buds that sprout high in the centre of the tree. She stretches upwards, effortlessly strips a twig and slowly closes her long dark lashes as she tastes the juicy sweetness.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my Kazuri Kritters and reading their stories and I hope you see what I see. Don't forget you can help support the work of Kazuri West by purchasing the beads, buttons and finished jewellery and if you would like to create your own mini safari, the animal buttons are available from this page.

See you next time!


Saturday 25 October 2014

Pipflowers and Chexxagons!

Hello everyone!

I'm sorry for neglecting my poor blog recently and for leaving you all gasping for more beady news. I've spent the last couple of months away from home with very patchy internet access which made it almost impossible to keep my blog up to date. Don't worry though, I have been beading and also work that I prepared in previous months has been coming to fruition, so I have lots of things to tell you. The first piece of news is that I now have another FREE pattern available from Bead and Button magazine. This time it's the Pipflower bracelet from the Pip™ Collection which you can download here.

These little eight-petalled flowers are great fun to make and they work up really quickly so this dainty bracelet would make a nice gift - just in time for the holiday season! I chose these lovely bright vacuum coated Pip beads for my bracelet because I love the way they seem to flash and shine, alternating between hot pink and turquoise, but the Pips come in a huge range of different colours so you can easily change the look of the finished piece. You don't have to attach them with chain either, why not experiment and find other ways to connect them, or try sewing them on to finished beadwork.

The next thing to tell you is that there's also another brand new pattern available - this time in the sparkly new issue (issue 12) of Digital Beading Magazine. The Chexxagon necklace is also a component based design but this time it's a mixture of weaving and stringing using the new Chexx™ beads from  My necklace uses 23 little Chexxagons to create a long slinky necklace and I added the finishing touch of a gorgeous pearl clasp from A Grain Of Sand but you could easily make a shorter length necklace or bracelet or even a pair of earrings. I fell in love with the antique chrome Chexx beads, but as you can see from the advert on page 48 of Digital Beading Magazine, there are lots of stunning colours available - just imagine the Chexxagon necklace worked in those red Chexx beads for a Christmas party outfit!

The final piece of news for today is that Preciosa Ornela has used another of my pieces from the Pip™ Collection in one of their latest adverts - this time it is the little Pip Posy which features in a full page advert on page 6 of Digital Beading Magazine. Although you can't see them in this photo, these flowers have long green beaded stems which took me several days to make, so I'm afraid there isn't a pattern available for these BUT there will be a project in issue 13 of Digital Beading Magazine for something very similar, so stay tuned!

That's all for today but there will be more beady news just around the corner, so be sure to either check back regularly or sign up to the 'Follow by Email' option at the top of my blog.

See you next time!


Wednesday 3 September 2014

Tropical Twins!

Hello everyone!

It's new pattern time again and this time it's a design that I introduced to you exactly one year ago but you might not recognise it. I made the bright and bold Tropicana Cuff as part of my Preciosa Ornela neon collection using Preciosa neon Twin™ beads and seed beads and it was used as part of their advertising campaign last year.

Despite spending a year working solely in grey beads, I am a big fan of these particular neon beads as they have such a lovely soft matte finish to them, but I know they are not to everyone's tastes. Bead and Button magazine wanted to publish this design as part of my year long run of projects with them but they weren't so sure about the neon colours and so I made another bracelet in different colours. For this one I chose a variety of purple Twin beads and seed beads for the flowers but I gave them a few touches of gold to give them an exotic tropical appearance and nestled them between olive green leaves to complete the lush rain forest look.

The project has now been renamed 'Tropical Twins' and you can find it on page 64 of the new October 2014 issue of Bead & Button magazine.

I hope you have fun with my latest pattern, whether you go for sunshine brights, jewel tones or even moonlight greys. The flowers and leaves are quick and easy to work up and the whole piece is interchangeable so you can make as many leaves, flowers and buds as you wish and thread them in any order you choose.

See you next time!


Friday 22 August 2014

The Wedding Collection!

Hello everyone!

Back in June/July it might have seemed as though I had gone very quiet and you may have thought that I was neglecting my beads in favour of the summer sunshine - but actually I was secretly working on a beaded wedding collection for Preciosa Ornela. It's been a long time since I've been to a wedding and when I got married (20 years ago!) I didn't even bead and so I had to really dig deep when I was wondering about what to make. Rather than making random items, I knew I wanted to make a cohesive colour themed collection that would fit an imaginary wedding but I only had a limited colour palette to work with. I decided to go with traditional white for the bride and pink for the flowergirl and then mixed pink and white for the remaining items - apart from a dash of shiny black for the groom. The first person in the wedding party to be kitted out was my imaginary groom who received a pair of black and white floral cufflinks - a touch of beadwork for him, but not too much.

Next I turned my attention to the bride and as I had recently been working with Preciosa's Pip beads, I decided to use some lovely alabaster Pip beads to make her a matching Kumihimo necklace and bracelet set.

I had a few white Pip beads left over so I decided to make the bride a  pair of matching earrings and a set of three hair grips. I also made her a decorated hair comb by attaching a single Pip flower and adding some tiny seed bead leaves and a couple of sparkling crystal AB fire polished beads for a touch of understated sparkle.

I wanted the bride to glide elegantly down the aisle without being too weighed down by beadwork so I left her collection at that, hoping that the soft sheen of the white beads and the odd glimpse of silver would add to her natural glowing beauty without taking over. Next I pictured a pretty little flowergirl of perhaps 3 or 4 years old and first I made her a tiny wrist corsage with a simple pale pink Pip flower threaded onto sheer pink organza ribbon. She also has a matching hair band with three pale pink flowers which sit on top of her hair with a lovely pink bow tied at the back.

Of course being a flowergirl, our little girl needed some flowers to carry and so I created a small posy for her. In order to bring the pink and white theme together I used a mixture of pink and white seed beads for the petals, added some crystal AB fire polished beads for the stamens and some bright shiny green metallic stems. The posy is tied with the same sheer pink organza ribbon that I used for her bracelet and hair band. Can you imagine how long this single item took to make?

Next I thought about the wedding guests and I remembered that they would need a buttonhole. So I made a larger version of the flowergirl's pink and white speckled flower and added a bow and a pin to make it easy for them to attach it to their outfit.

After that I turned my attention to making items to decorate the tables for the wedding feast and of course I wanted it all to be pink and white to be in keeping with the wedding jewellery. First I decorated a plain white candle with some pale pink flowers.

Then I thought the guests might like something to take home to remind them of the beautiful pink and white wedding and so I decorated some simple white bags with pink and white seed beads, added some pale pink flowers, filled it with heart-shaped chocolates wrapped in silver foil and tied it with pink ribbon. Those chocolates are delicious by the way!

The little flowers that I had made to decorate the candle and favour bag were quick and easy to work up and so I made a few more of them, along with some tiny seed bead hearts to use as table scatters to decorate the top table.

And to round off the collection I decided to create a place card holder so that everyone would know where to sit. I made a freestanding flower with the same randomly speckled pink and white flowers that I had used for the flowergirl's posy and the guests' buttonholes and added some leaves, a long crystal stamen and a pink bow and I invited a very special guest.

So there you have it - the results of four weeks of quiet beading! Although some of these pieces are very tricky and time consuming to make, I enjoyed every minute of it and loved the opportunity to let my imagination run wild - thank you Preciosa!

See you next time!


Sunday 17 August 2014

Pirouetting Pips!

Hello everyone!

Just a quick post today to let you know about a couple of new publications. The brand new sparkly issue of Digital Beading Magazine has just been released and as usual, it is packed with 164 pages of must make projects and inspirational interviews. You can find the instructions for my 'Pirouetting Pips' bracelet on page 66 of issue 11 and if you'd like to see how it looks when worn - check out page 6 as the editor of the magazine is wearing it! This bracelet uses the lovely new Pip™ beads from Preciosa Ornela and it's a fun piece to wear as the flowers twirl around. Don't forget to have a look at the back cover of DBM too as there's a sneak peek of my Chexxagon necklace which will be in issue 12!

The second piece of news is that Creative Beading Volume 9: The Best Projects from a Year of Bead & Button Magazine has just been published and I am very pleased to have two projects included in this lovely hardback annual. Gumdrops in my Garden and Spikes in Bloom have both been included in the 'multiple-technique' section of the book, two floral projects that use gumdrop beads and spike beads from

That's all for now but there will be another couple of brand new patterns released in a few weeks time.

See you next time!


Wednesday 13 August 2014

Design Team Member for Many Hands Marketplace - Kazuri West!

Hello everyone!

I'm delighted to announce that I have recently become a design team member for Many Hands Marketplace - Kazuri West. Perhaps you are already aware of the story and maybe you have even used these gorgeous beads in your own work, but I have only recently been introduced to them. The beautiful Kazuri beads are ceramic and made in Kenya and the stunning Samunnat beads are polymer clay and made in Nepal. Both of these small businesses were set up to help disadvantaged and vulnerable women escape their impoverished and often abusive situations by making and selling beads. Once I learned the background and saw the beads, I was happy to lend this initiative my full support and help to spread the word.

Through training and support these two collectives have grown, enabling the women to not only create amazing beads but also to photograph them and do all the things that come with managing your own small business. In turn, this has given the women confidence and hope and helped them to support their families and gain a level of independence they never thought possible. Many Hands Marketplace - Kazuri West is the main distributor for the beads these ladies craft and you can read the full story including the history of these organizations and the incredible work being done both in Kenya and Nepal here.

I have a small collection of both the Samunnat and the Kazuri beads to play with, but I was immediately drawn to these gorgeous 'Bindu' beads from the Samunnat range because of their detailed patterns and vibrant colours. These beads are so pretty that they don't really need any extra adornment and would look perfect simply strung with some spacer beads or crystals to create a necklace or bracelet, but seeing as I am primarily a beadweaver I wanted to find a way to incorporate them into my usual style of work.

As I rolled the silky smooth beads around in my hands I thought about the women who created them, the hardships they had endured, the love and care that they all put into each bead and the hope for change that this work gave them. Some particularly touching words that I had read on the Samunnat website also echoed around my head: "Each bead is a gift and a story of one woman's life." So with those thoughts in mind I decided to create a collection of 'Samunnat Flowers' as a tribute to the women who carefully crafted each bead and as symbols of femininity and of hope unfurling.

I used Preciosa Ornela seed beads in teal, matte white and black to weave large curved petals to provide a simple plain backdrop and then I added a single shining Bindu bead to the centre of the flower to let the focal bead take centre stage.

If you would like to use some of these beautiful beads in your own work and help to support the women of Kazuri and Samunnat, the beads are available to purchase from their website. They are also currently running a jewellery design contest to win some great prizes and you can read the full details and contest rules here.

See you next time!


Friday 4 July 2014

The Pip™ Collection!

Hello everyone!

I'm finally able to show you the collection I was busy working on back in March using Preciosa Ornela's brand new bead shape - the Pip™ pressed bead. And so it is time for another big reveal of finished pieces, an advert, a free pattern and even a video!

Once again, Preciosa asked a number of designers to create pieces using this exciting new bead shape and you can see the full gallery of available bead colours and finishes and all of our completed work here. Just like the Pellet™ and the Thorn™ this new 5x7 mm bead had this previously hard-core seed beader scratching her head and wondering what to do with them at first. Of course I knew that a company like Preciosa wouldn't introduce a new bead shape if it hadn't already been tested and found to have great potential - and I soon unlocked that potential and fell in love with the Pips. As is my way, I decided to start off simple and so I used the Pip beads to make a Kumihimo bracelet. I discovered that these beads actually work so well with braiding that I went on to make another 7 of these bracelets in different colours and designs. Preciosa seemed to like the Kumihimo idea too as they used one of my bracelets in their latest advert.

They also asked me to write the tutorial for the Kumihimo bracelet! This threw me into a slight panic as I only learnt the basics of this ancient Japanese art last year but I got on with it and you can now download the free pattern for a basic single coloured braid here. Preciosa also decided to create a video using my instructions and I think this really helps you to understand how to create the simple but effective bracelets shown below - I wish I had been able to watch a video like this when I was learning how to braid!

When I was all Kumihimo'd out I started experimenting with how easy it would be to use this petal shaped bead to make beaded flowers and I am happy to give the Pip bead a big tick on this front too. Just six beads connected into a circle gives you a simple flower which you can use alone or to decorate other finished beadwork. I scattered brilliant blue Pip flowers on a silver netted base to create my next piece.

After that I tried out an eight-petalled flower using some gorgeous vacuum coated Pips and again, this worked well with the help of some matching aqua seed beads and a glass pearl. I made five little flowers and connected them with short lengths of chain to create this little bracelet.

As it was all bracelets so far, I decided to try a ring next and so I mixed the Pips with some Solo beads to make a densely clustered flower on a metal sieve base.

I find these sieve findings really useful in certain situations and so I used another one to create a brooch. This time I attached the silver Pip beads to the sieve to form the flower and then I used four of the deep blue Pips to make a little butterfly which is visiting the flower. This is my favourite of all the pieces as Mum was very very fond of blue butterflies and every time I see one it makes me think of her and smile, so this piece is for her.

And finally I rounded off my beady experiments by making a little sculptural Pip Posy tied with green organza ribbon. After all, it wouldn't be me if there wasn't a little ribbon involved somewhere - now would it?

I hope you enjoy looking at the results of my Pip bead research and that you might feel inspired to try some experiments of your own. And don't forget that if you would like to make the Kumihimo bracelet, you can download the free instructions here and watch the video here. The tutorials for a couple of the designs shown above will also be published in future issues of magazines, so be sure to complete the 'Follow by Email' box at the top of my blog if you want to be kept informed of all new designs and patterns.

See you next time!