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!