Thursday, 26 March 2009

Spring in Spain!

I've just returned home after a lovely two week break staying with Simon's parents who live in Spain. We try to visit every year, usually around Christmas, but for one reason or another it was a bit later this year and so this was the first time I have ever seen Spain in spring. Of course I am always on the lookout for beady inspiration and when I visited last January, I was struck by just how much green and orange there was everywhere; clusters of orange dates hanging from green palms, the odd orange coloured pomegranate still clinging to a leafless tree, the glossy green leaves of the orange trees laden with fruit and some gorgeous coppery bougainvillea bracts. I came back from that trip, fired up and raring to go and made several pieces using beads in various shades of green and orange.

This time, there was a much greater variety of colour with splashes of vibrant yellow mimosa everywhere, hot pink mesembryanthemum flowers cascading down cliffs towards the cobalt sea, fields of delicate pale pink almond blossom, pomegranate trees covered in shiny bronze leaf buds, vast areas of sage green olives and artichokes and pure white sails against a clear blue sky. I took lots of photos and made lots of notes, so as soon as I get some free time, I intend to start experimenting!

In the meantime, issue 15 of Bead magazine came out while I was away and I have two projects in this issue; the last in the series of my flower pins Periwinkle Pin which uses increasing and decreasing brick stitch to give the petals their distinctive shape and a simple netted sun catcher which is also shown on the cover!

Thanks to everyone who left comments on my previous post. There is still time to enter my anniversary giveaway, just leave a comment on the 3rd March 2009 entry and I will draw one lucky winner's name out of the hat on April 4th.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

An anniversary and a giveaway!

Monday March 3rd 2008 was the day I started a blog and you can see my first tentative step here. I wasn't sure if I would take to 'blogging' as I used to be a reclusive kind of girl, but one year and 45 posts later and it's still going strong and I've discovered I like it! I also find it fascinating to be able to scroll back through that years worth of entries and see my portfolio of work. The collage below shows the projects I have had published during that time.

In order to celebrate my blog anniversary, I am going to hold a little giveaway! The earrings below were made to compliment my 'Daisy Chain' necklace which was published in Bead magazine in September 2008. Leave a comment on this blog entry and in one months time I will put all names (excluding spam!) into a hat and the first name out will win the cute little pair of daisy earrings on gold-filled hooks as shown in this photo (photo courtesy of Ashdown Publishing). Don't forget to make sure I have a way of contacting you in case you are the lucky winner!

As an anniversary gift to myself, I am going to give myself permission to be more carefree about blogging. I have tried to post something every two weeks, but I don't want it to become a pressure and I don't want to bore my readers by having to come up with something just because it's blog time. So in future, if I have something to blog about, I will and if I don't, I won't!

I'm also happy that I have received gifts from others in the shape of seeing my work in two Etsy treasuries! The first treasury 'Rain Beautiful Rain' was curated by Sue of Beadweaver and includes my 'Frosted Flower' made-to-order necklace. The second Treasury West 'Is it spring yet?' was curated by Jama of These Precious Things and includes my 'Bougainvillea Bouquet' made-to-order necklace along with lots of other Etsy BeadWeaving beauties - thank you ladies :0)

See you whenever I have something to blog about - oh and don't forget the giveaway!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Cover story!

I am very pleased to announce that my Hibiscus Twist necklace will appear on the cover of the April 2009 issue of Bead & Button magazine!

The new cover looks very springlike and shows a riotous cascade of glorious flowers; some of my design, two of Melissa Grakowsky's Wildflower vine and a beautiful ring by Cassie Donlen.

I created these flowers when I was experimenting with increasing herringbone stitch and loved the way they flared out. I had a sterling silver clasp in the shape of a butterfly that I wanted to use as it added to the 'garden theme', but it had three loops attached to it and I wasn't sure how best to use it. In the end I stitched three thin Peyote ropes and braided them loosely together - hence Hibiscus Twist! I also made two removable flowers in contrasting colours, one in dark 'night-time' shades and the other in softer 'day-time' shades to give added interest to the piece. Both flowers have Swarovski pearl centres.

I am thrilled to learn that my work will be on the cover and I count myself very lucky, as of course it was only this time last year that my first project, Floral Fantasy, appeared on the cover of the April 2008 issue.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Bougainvillea Bouquet!

I have finally finished working on my new flowers and here is my entry for the Etsy Beadweavers challenge - Bougainvillea Bouquet!

Whilst I was working on this, I recalled some of the beautiful images of bougainvillea I have seen on my travels; arching over a monastery doorway in Corfu, cut into neat hedges in Spain, growing wild by the roadside in Thailand and Sri Lanka and vivid clusters set against a backdrop of deep blue sea in the Maldives. I didn't need to dig out the photos to remind of these scenes, they are all quite clear to me and I thoroughly enjoyed casting my mind back as I sat and sewed each bead together.

I wanted to create a piece that was not only eye-catching but also very wearable. Therefore I engineered it so that the necklace can be worn quite simply with just two bougainvillea bracts suspended from the woven rope, or all eleven bracts can be threaded onto the rope, creating a vibrant cluster, exposing their inner white flowers.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Botanical beading experiments ...

I've spent many happy hours beading since my post last week, but I have very little to show for it I'm afraid. When I first read the Etsy Beadweavers challenge theme 'Tropical Holiday', images of big bold hibiscus flowers sprang to mind. I sorted through all my beads and chose some gorgeous shades of orange, red and green and then spent several days working on the shaping of the petals, experimenting with increasing within the petals and also on the outside edges. The trouble with beadwork, or maybe it's the charm, is that it's sometimes very difficult to tell whether a design idea will work, without spending several hours (or even days!) trying something out, only to discover that a slight adjustment 20 rows ago would have been better! I'm also not very good at visualising the finished look of a flower after creating only one petal, so I tend to keep going and then decide if I like the finished result. To me, none of this is time wasted, it all provides valuable lessons about the different effects created by varying the choice of stitch, count and bead - as long as I remember to keep good notes that is! Anyway, the hibiscus just wasn't up to scratch but I still want to enter the challenge, so I have put all the part beaded orange petals into a bag with my notes and will return to it later. I am now working on new flowers that shout 'tropical' to me and I'm using hot pink seed beads - any idea what flowers I am working on? It's going well and so I should have photos of the finished piece to show you next week.

In the meantime, issue 14 of the UK magazine Bead is now in the shops and has the second in my series of flower brooches as one of the projects - Poppy Pin.

I was also very happy to learn that my Poppy Supernova choker was selected by the lovely Irith of RioRita as one of the items in her beautiful Etsy treasury 'Rainbow the Fourth' - thank you Irith!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Flowers everywhere ...

I'm still busy working on my entry for the Etsy Beadweavers challenge - Tropical Holiday. My piece will include some beaded flowers as usual, but I am trying out a new shape for me which is taking a bit longer than I thought, so I still don't have any pictures to show you. In the meantime, I believe the new issue of Beadwork magazine is now out and my icy blue and silver Frosted Flower necklace is one of the projects in there.

I also thought I'd brighten things up by showing you a picture of an Etsy treasury that fellow British bead artist Lynn Davy put together. It includes my 'red violet floral cufflinks' and is entitled Summer in the Meadow - isn't it pretty? Thank you Lynn!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Off to a flying start!

Happy New Year everyone!

I'm getting back into the flow of things after spending Christmas and New Year with my parents. We had a lovely time with lots of beautiful crisp frosty days. Long walks, good food, a drop or two of home brew and a glass of elderberry port which is only brought out on Christmas morning. I didn't manage to get much beading done over the Christmas break, although I did make Mum a bracelet and I got the hideous job of doing my accounts out of the way!

I've been busy beading since I've been back. I'm going to try and enter the Etsy Beadweavers challenge this time, the theme is Tropical Holiday which should provide a good antidote to the freezing temperatures here. I hope to have pictures to show you within the next week or two.

Things are busy on the publication front too. My Frosted Flower necklace is in the next issue of Beadwork magazine, my Poppy Pin will be in the new issue of Bead magazine and my Hibiscus Twist necklace is due to be in the next issue of Bead & Button magazine due out in March.

Other good news is that the lovely Caroline of Crafted Gems has included my Poppy Supernova choker in her gorgeous Etsy treasury 'Red Red and more Red'. Thank you Caroline!