Tuesday 18 May 2021

Wedding Belles!

Hello everyone!

Well a lot has happened since my last blog post, hasn't it? Written on the very cusp of a global pandemic, I don't think any of us really knew what the following year had in store. Just over a year ago I was living in a busy town, going to the gym nearly every day, doing beadwork demos on live tv, juggling various work and life commitments, meeting my friends for coffee and cake and just generally living a wonderfully busy but happy life. When Covid-19 struck, it was an almost immediate lockdown for me as my husband Simon has a serious lung condition and needed to be shielded. However, we are very fortunate, and the timing couldn't have been better for us. As luck would have it, that very same week I was visiting my parent's old house in the middle of the countryside and so Simon joined me (complete with no end of technological paraphernalia from his employer) and we've been here shut away from civilisation ever since. It took a while to get used to the slower pace of life (and to being in the house of painful childhood memories) but gradually I adapted and started learning and relearning all sorts of skills, like growing my own vegetables and learning to bake, and I also discovered that I am not cut out to be a hairdresser! The one constant all through this time (and the thing that helped me maintain my connection to the outside world) was that I carried on beading. I'm grateful for so many things, but at this point I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Preciosa Ornela for not only enabling me to continue doing the work that I love, but also for providing me with a creative outlet and a platform to share my work and ideas.

I've made many finished pieces during the last 14 months, but the items I wanted to share with you today are three wedding themed projects. This kind of work is months in the making and it can easily be 6 months to a year before the first imaginings appear as the finished article. I began working with Preciosa's new ranges of Light Ivory Wedding and Pearl Pastel Lining beads and seed beads as far back as June 2020. My first step is usually to spend time with the beads to get a feel for them and to see if there are any obvious design ideas. It was easy with these as although they are all beautiful beads suitable for many occasions, it was clear that a wedding theme was what Preciosa was looking for. When I got married (27 years ago!) I was completely ignorant about beads and beading and so I bought myself a pearl necklace and earrings, but if I did it again it would be a different matter and I would probably be completely festooned in beads. For this reason I found it easy to step into full on 'bridal mode' and come up with a range of items for the imaginary bride, bridegroom and bridesmaids. The first piece (shown above) was the Floral Hairband which uses very basic beadweaving techniques to create a variety of flower motifs which are then sewn onto a length of wide ribbon to tie around the head. I like this because it's a bit different to the usual tiaras, it's easy to match the colours to the rest of the wedding colour scheme and it looks super cute on little bridesmaids too. Of course this idea works just as well if you wanted to make an every day summer hair accessory.

Preciosa then asked me to design a buttonhole for the groom. This was unusual as I am usually left to design whatever enters my head, but I must admit that I enjoyed the challenge of having an exact brief and so started to research what all the best dressed grooms are currently wearing. I noticed a trend for nature inspired buttonholes - feathers, flower buds, grasses and leaves, lots of leaves. So then I thought, wouldn't it be great if the groom had a nature inspired decoration that wouldn't wither and die but that could be a special keepsake that would last long after the memorable day. And so, Everlasting Boutonniere was born - I must admit that naming my projects is always a major part of the designing fun for me as I love words and language! The finished piece here consists of a simple beaded leaf and a spray of twisted silver wire with some lovely little forget-me-nots and a heart captured in it, all held together with a couple of beaded bands and a bow of ribbon to match the wedding colours which can then be pinned to a jacket lapel. I used the grey Pearl Pastel Lining rocailles for the leaf and added a spine of Light Ivory Wedding rocailles in ivory to tone with the forget-me-nots and heart. If you'd like to make one of these, you can download the pattern here.

The final project in this collection is the Wedding Belles set. These Pearl Pastel Lining beads are really very pretty and they were just crying out to be made into little flowers which lend themselves so well to a bridal theme. I'm a big fan of beaded ropes and have spent months of my life weaving miles of them, but this time not only did I want to create something quite delicate looking, I also wanted the flowers to stand out and to be the main focus and so I chose to create a little cluster of flowers which could be suspended from fine sterling silver chain. I gave each flower a long stamen of size 6 beads and mixed the colours up to use more of the lovely beads and to pull everything together. I also added matching size 6's along the length of the chain and this resulted in an elegant very wearable necklace which is light to wear and has great movement. These flowers are incredibly quick to make and so it is easy to make an entire matching set of necklace, bracelet and earrings for the bride along with coordinating items for the bridesmaids. A pair of earrings or a single flower as a pendant or bracelet charm would also make a great thank you gift for a maid/matron of honour or bridesmaids.

As you can see, I also made a tiny set of jewellery for the beautiful little bridesmaid in our make-believe wedding and this angelic picture makes me smile every time I see it. And so, I finish this blog post as I started, feeling fortunate and grateful. I have spent many years learning about beading and trying to perfect what I do and this doesn't only involve spending hours sat alone in silence with a needle and thread, it also includes learning to write easy to follow patterns, painstakingly drawing diagrams and the art of running a small business. But everything has come together, which means that with great thanks to Preciosa Ornela for their continued support, I can share more free patterns with you and whether you have a wedding on your horizon or simply fancy making yourself a summer hairband, I wish you many happy hours of beading.

Take care, stay safe and see you next time.