Monday 8 October 2018

Two-Cut beads - or not to cut!

Hello everyone!

Things are still a little bit topsy-turvy in my life at the moment, so this will be another brief post, but I wanted to show you a few little pieces I made using PRECIOSA Two-Cut Beads. I have quite a lot of cut beads in my collection, ranging from Two-Cut and Three-Cut, to various sizes of Bugles, and although I love the way the light glints and reflects off the cut edge, I've been more a collector of cut beads rather than a user. I must admit that I used to shy away from any cut beads as I feared that they would have sharp edges that would sever my beading thread, undoing all the hard work in a carefully crafted piece of beadwork. However, not long ago, Preciosa Ornela asked me to work with some of their Two-Cut beads and so I put my fears to one side and gave it a go.

Instead of jumping in with both feet, I thought I would take my introduction to weaving with cut beads slowly. I decided to make a simple Kumihimo bracelet to start with, which would enable me to use thick S-Lon thread, therefore reducing the thread-slicing risk. The lovely rhythmic braiding process gave me chance to look closely at the beads, to get to know them a bit better and to start to relax. I chose red and blue Two-Cuts and mixed them with some white size 7 rocailles and white S-Lon to give a patriotic feel - the colours of both the UK and Czech Republic flag! I made the bracelet long enough to wrap twice around my wrist, and added a little button and loop closure.

Although I was happy with the results of my first piece, I still didn't quite have the confidence to use my usual Nymo or Fireline with them in basic beadweaving stitches. So next I did a bit of embroidery using Ultrasuede and heavy duty 14lb Fireline to create a Gothic style brooch. I used a mix of Two-Cuts, Drops, fire polished beads and Charlottes to circle a glass button with a skull and crossbones design and completed the look with a drooping black ribbon bow. I had absolutely no problem with the Two-Cuts and the thicker Fireline, so by now I was starting to wonder if I had spent years missing out on using cut beads in my designs because of my unnecessary fear of them.

So for my final Two-Cut piece, I went back to what I know best - 6lb Fireline and herringbone stitch! I made lots of little beaded tubes with grey AB Two-Cuts in both shiny and matte, threaded them onto sterling silver beading chain along with some cream 4mm glass pearls, and then added a sterling silver clasp to make a three row bracelet with lots of movement. This is the sort of beadwork I love to do and I made 24 of these little tubes with absolutely no trouble at all. None of the beads cut my thread while I was working with them and the bracelet has been worn repeatedly with no problems. So there - accepting the opportunity to work with PRECIOSA Two-Cut Beads not only gave me chance to work with interesting bead shapes and colours, it also cured me of my phobia of cut beads!

See you next time!


Tuesday 14 August 2018

And the winners are ...

Hello everyone!

I'm going to keep this brief, as my father has recently passed away and there is a lot of work for me to do. But, I didn't want to keep you waiting any longer, so here are the winners of my International Beading Week contest in association with Preciosa Ornela.

The five first prize winners are as follows:

Carolyn Cave - Canada

Evgenya Mytsyk - Ukraine

Nadezhda Kochukova - Russia

Sally Kelly - UK

Sithara Alywn - India

There are also five small runners-up prizes which go to the following:

Eszter Molnar - Hungary

Iryna Migal - Germany

Monica Visconi - Italy

Nurshida Sweet - USA

Zuzana Ludvigova - Slovakia

And a special mention and small prize also goes to Anna for her entry, as she is only 13 years old!

Anna - Belarus

Thank you so much to everyone from around the world who joined in with IBW and entered the contest. Both myself and Preciosa agreed that it was incredibly hard to choose the winning pieces as there were so many wonderful, intricate and imaginative entries. If you have not been awarded a prize this time, please do not be disheartened, every entry I received showed hard work, patience and a love of beadwork - keep on beading!

Will the 11 winners please contact me as soon as possible with their postal address so that the prizes may be sent out.

Happy beading!


Monday 30 July 2018

International Beading Week - It's Here!

Hello everyone!

Well here we are, after all the anticipation and behind the scenes preparation - International Beading Week is upon us! There are all sorts of great offers and events taking place all over the world, so be sure to check out the menu on the IBW websiteI've often said how much I appreciate the way modern technology enables us to connect, and I generally consider myself to be an international beader, but the build up to IBW has been a particularly exciting time for me. For the last couple of months I've been working with companies from the UK, Czech Republic and Germany, posting books to the USA, Portugal and Austria, answering beady queries from Cameroon, Nigeria and Canada and processing contest entries from the UK, USA, Ukraine, Germany, Greece, Slovenia, Lithuania, Italy and India!

You still have one week to send me your contest entry photos to be in with a chance of winning a copy of my book and a kilo of beads from the PRECIOSA Traditional Czech Beads brand, as shown in the photo below. Find one of my patterns, make it with beads from Preciosa and send me a picture, it's as simple as that - just imagine what sparkly things you could make with that lot!

For my next IBW initiative, I've teamed up with Beads Direct to design an exclusive kit, which has been launched today and is available to purchase from their website. Designed and written by me and beautifully packaged by Beads Direct, Pretty Pellets is a softly romantic looking bracelet made with PRECIOSA Rocailles, Imitation Pearls and Pellets™. You have the option to make a simple single row bracelet, or a more elaborate double row cuff style bracelet. Each kit contains sufficient materials to make two single row or one double row bracelet and comes in either gold or silver colourways.

We hope you enjoy making your Pretty Pellets - be sure to join in with the International Beading Week buzz and share photos of your bracelets on Facebook on either my page, Beads Direct or on the International Beading Week page using #IBW.

Happy International Beading Week!


Friday 25 May 2018

Mix and Match Flower Bracelets!

Hello everyone!

What's this? Nothing on the blog for a year and a half and then two entries within ten days?! Well, as I hinted in the last blog post I've just had my 85th pattern published. This time it's a fun summery project 'Mix and Match Flower Bracelets' which you can find in issue 87 of Bead and Jewellery magazine which is out now.

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to celebrate my 50th birthday in Madeira, where I discovered that cork is used to make everything from jewellery to clothing. I learned that cork is a sustainable natural product harvested from the Quercus suber tree (cork oak) and I believe that most cork forests are actually in Portugal and Spain. While in Madeira, Simon bought himself a cork wallet and it's such a beautiful soft material that most people don't realise what it's made from when they see it. I treated myself to a cork bracelet which I sadly lost, so I was very pleased when I later discovered that I could buy the cord and incorporate it into my own jewellery designs. I love the look and feel of the natural cord, but I've chosen to use pastel coloured cork cord from Endless Leather for these pretty little bracelets as it perfectly compliments the lovely transparent and opaque PRECIOSA rocailles I've used to make the flowers.

I've called this project 'Mix and Match' because these simple flower shapes are made in two layers, which means you can slide them on and off the cord and jewellery findings to change the colour combination for alternative looks. I decided to make my bracelets in delicate pastel colours of yellow, apricot and rose, but if girly isn't your thing, you could easily make them in darker or more muted tones, or even go for bold neon colours for a completely different look. The cord is only 10 mm wide so these also make great stacking bracelets which is in tune with the current festival trend.

I hope you enjoy this quick and easy project, and don't forget you can also use this pattern if you want to have a go at winning the prizes I am currently offering in my contest.

Have fun and see you next time!


Wednesday 16 May 2018

International Beading Week - Competition time!

Hello everyone!

It's been a little while since I updated my blog, but here I am, and with news! I've been involved in National Beading Week since it began in 2015, but this year it has morphed into INTERnational Beading Week and I'm delighted to be one of the ambassadors. International Beading Week takes place from the 28th of July to the 5th of August this year and there will be all kinds of exciting worldwide beady activities taking place. Keep a close eye on the menu at the top of the IBW page as details of events, special offers and freebies will be added soon. I have several things planned, but the first thing I wanted to tell you about is that I am holding a contest which is open internationally.

There are five fantastic prizes on offer (more on that below) and to be in with a chance of winning there are two main requirements: the first is that you make something using one of my patterns, and the second is that it must be made using seed beads and/or beads from the PRECIOSA Traditional Czech Beads brand. It could be one of the patterns I sell via my website, one from my book Playful Perfection, one of my free patterns available from the Preciosa Ornela project page or one of the many that I have published in books and magazines over the years. I actually did a count yesterday and was quite shocked to realise that I have published 84 different patterns (soon to be 85!) so there are plenty to choose from, as you can see below.

You could make a simple pair of cufflinks in a couple of hours, or you could spend considerably more time making one of my floral lariats for example - from beginner to advanced, there is something out there for everyone. It doesn't matter which project you make, whether you make an identical piece or adapt it. You might like to change the colours, turn a bracelet pattern into a necklace, try using different sized seed beads and beads, whatever you wish, but it should be clearly identifiable as originating from one of my patterns. Some of my designs call for specific types of beads, so unless you want to have some fun seeing if they work with other types, choose your pattern carefully. When you have finished your piece, take a picture of it and either post it on my Facebook business page and tag me, send me the picture via Facebook Messenger or email me (address can be found at the bottom of my website). Please make sure I have a way to contact you should you be one of the lucky winners, and if you are, we will then need your postal address to send you the goodies. The contest will be judged by both myself and Preciosa Ornela and the final five will not necessarily be selected due to the complexity of the piece, but rather the workmanship, attention to detail and overall pleasing appearance.

Preciosa Ornela is generously providing five equal prizes of a copy of my book and 1kg of beads (yes you read that right - one whole kilogram of beads!), which, as you can see from the sample photo above, is a whole lot of beautiful beads. So if you want to increase your bead collection, or maybe experiment with some new shapes that you've never tried before, it's well worth having a go at this contest! I'm so glad to be in a position to be able to embrace the spirit of International Beading Week and share the beady love worldwide, and I'm really looking forward to seeing which piece you decide to make. The contest is now open, the closing date is the 6th of August 2018 and the winners will be announced on my blog the following week. Good luck everyone!