Sunday, 31 May 2009

Hello Yellow!

Jean Power has recently started a new blog called Colour Challenge in which she plans to spend the next year exploring individual colours, their historical and social aspects and then experimenting with them in her beadwork. Jean's first colour choice is yellow, not because it's a particular favourite but because she thought it might be the most challenging colour to use in beadwork - kind of 'in at the deep end'!

I'm really enjoying following Jean's adventures with colour as I've been learning a lot about colour myself ever since I started beading. It's shown that my favourite colours in real life are not necessarily my favourites in beadwork.

I love a lot of colours, but if pressed, I would say that yellow is my favourite colour. My studio and my kitchen are both painted yellow and I find them cheerful and uplifting even on the gloomiest days. I also have lots of yellow flowers in my garden, ranging from soft yellow petunias to citrus yellow flag irises and laburnum. Yet I think I have only ever made two yellow items in beadwork; my Primrose Pin and a yellow dahlia pendant and both of those use soft yellow rather than the more vibrant shades.

I don't think I have ever made myself a piece of yellow jewellery to wear either and I'm not sure exactly why that is. It looks like I have sadly neglected yellow for no particular reason and I may just have to do something about that ...

Monday, 4 May 2009

United Hearts

Last year, some of my fellow Etsy BeadWeavers team members volunteered to take part in Jeanette Shanigan's 2009 Breast Cancer Donation Project - "Bead artists have the heart to take on breast cancer". Each year a theme is set, this year it's hearts, in 2007 it was butterflies and the 2008 theme was roses. Jeanette collects all donated beaded squares and stitches them into quilts which are then auctioned off at the Bead & Button show to raise money for charity. Fifteen EBW members from four different countries donated a total of 35 squares and team member Susan Clinkscales did a magnificent job coordinating our efforts and sending the finished squares on to Jeanette. Susan also took photos of each square and created the mosaic below – please note, this is not the actual quilt, but a digital photographic version. For more information about the auction, please visit the Bead & Button show website.

I talked about the thought process behind the creation of my four squares in my 'Beading Hearts' blog entry back in September, but as a reminder, here are some close-up shots of my squares.

United Hearts uses three-drop brick stitch with a square stitch heart attached.

Hearts and Flowers is woven in two-drop brick stitch with size 15 seed beads and a freshwater pearl.

Look into your Heart uses herringbone stitch with a small acrylic mirror in the centre.

Ace of Hearts uses square stitch throughout.

Once again, I am reminded of how powerful beads and beading can be and how fortunate we are to live in an age when the internet makes these international projects possible. I hope the auctions raise a substantial amount of money for the designated charities and my thanks go to Jeanette, Susan, my fellow EBW members and Bead & Button for all the hard work involved.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Treasuries and tulips!

I know, it's barely a week since my last blog post and here I am again - you never know where you are with me ;0) Anyway, this morning, I managed to grab a slot for a champagne themed Etsy treasury that I created and I wanted to show it on here while it is still live. It features a variety of beautiful handmade items all with the word 'champagne' in their title. If you click on the picture below it will take you to the actual treasury - feel free to click on the items, comment or even purchase!

A little while later, I learned that my friend Lynn Davy had created a brilliantly colourful Treasury West featuring lots of intricate beadwork by my fellow team mates the Etsy Beadweavers and included my Bougainvillea Bouquet - thank you Lynn!

I thought I would also show you another picture of me beading in the garden which was taken about an hour ago. The weather has been glorious this April and the garden is already looking lush and abundant - just look at those tulips! I could also smell the scented Narcissus and had cherry blossom drifting down around me like confetti. Who could ask for more?

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Swingin' Poppies ...

Things are still pretty hectic around here but I have managed to do a little bit of beadwork at last! First is my new range of earrings featuring ultra long sterling silver kidney earwires. The earwires themselves are nearly 5cms long and so once the flowers are added the earring is approximately 7cms from tip to tip. First in the range is Swingin' Poppies featuring a cute pair of little handwoven poppies in dramatic red and black.

I have a pair of these myself and although I wouldn't normally wear such long earrings, I have to say that as the wires are so thin and barely noticeable, you just get the effect of little flowers dancing round your neck - it feels great and very summery! I know they are not very clear, but here's a picture of me wearing my Swingin' Poppies.

I also made myself a pair of earrings to match a new blouse I bought for my holiday. I just happened to have some cylinder beads in almost exactly the same shade of green as the blouse and then I found some tiny freshwater pearls that seemed to complement the dots in the blouse perfectly. They are made using a combination of brick stitch and netting and hang from sterling silver Creole hoops.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

More beady inspiration and an announcement!

Well, I was barely back from Spain before I was off on my travels again, this time a few days in London! Simon had a job interview to attend and so we thought we would make the most of the trip and booked a couple of nights in the hotel where the interview was held, in the Bankside area of London. I'm ashamed to say that although I am from the south of England and often travel past it to visit my parents, I have hardly ever visited London and really don't know it very well at all - I think I have to put that right in the future as I absolutely fell in love with it during this visit. Considering it was very early April, the weather was fantastic and I spent a lot of time outdoors - I was even quite brave (for me!) and went exploring on foot whilst Simon was undergoing a gruelling four hour assessment. I ended up sat on a bench by the river Thames, soaking up the sunshine and trying to absorb all the famous landmarks that I could see from that one spot, including Shakespeare's Globe, 'The Gherkin', Tower Bridge, Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral.

The highlight of the trip for me however, was spending yesterday at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. I have been once before, but again, I vowed to be a regular visitor in the future. So much beady inspiration; the cherry blossom avenue, a carpet of Chionodoxa, the magnolia collection and the palm house to mention a few and that's besides the ring-necked parakeets soaring and squawking overhead and the beautiful turquoise winged jays hopping about in front of us!

So, it's back to business today and the first thing I did was to put all the names of everyone who left a comment on my giveaway post into a hat to see who won my daisy earrings. I'm pleased to announce that the lucky winner is Kat of Candles, Crafts and Whatnot - congratulations Kat and thanks to everyone who entered.

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!