Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas........discount code until New Years Eve in my Etsy shop!

Well I ran out of beads and I wanted dangles - so just completed Sparkle Star at the weekend - designed by Jean Power.  It is a lovely design that offers flexibility - double sided.........I am sure I will have a few requests for next Christmas!

Jean fell for my Aztec Flower design on the day - she has created some beautiful combinations - Peacock EyeAquamarine and Fuschia .......and I fell in love with her crown stones!   The original copper 27mm stone I purchased at my local bead shop -  Northern Beads.

I have a discount code of JEN20 for all items in my Etsy shop - this will operate until New Years Eve. 

Given response from Etsy on EUVAT - I will no longer be offering digital downloads of my tutorials in the New Year.

I will be exploring other third party options for my tutorials in my summer break.   It is likely that I will list only soutache kits and a selection of completed makes.  There is no plan to offer my tutorials in paper format - as I prefer the flexibility of PDF format - and the ability to enlarge text and photos.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Soutache Kits & Bespoke Orders

I had a brilliant few days at Brancepeth Castle last weekend - great to touch base with regular customers and catch up with friends.  I have listed the Soutache Starter Kits that were created for the event in my Etsy shop - they would make nice gifts for crafty friends.  

This weekend the fab Stow Bag I purchased at Brancepeth Castle was in action - great design - perfect size for mini ipad and all the weekend essentials.

Thoroughly enjoyed the workshop on Saturday with Jean Power at the The Bridge - organised by Michelle of Northern Beads.........next years date is already in my diary!  Today was spent working on a bespoke orders for Fibula Pin........never let wire go to waste - created a reject 'Jo' - 30 cm was not enough for long names!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Crystal Clay - Christmas Fair at Brancepeth Castle

Next weekend sees my last event of the year at Brancepeth Castle - the Christmas Craft Fair is on my door step and hoping to cross a few items of my shopping list.  I will be in the Armour Gallery - turn left on entering - near the facilities.......

In the run up to events.......I often play with crystal clay! I love working with the medium and I spend a lot of the year sourcing supplies - usually destashes, bead fairs or vintage shops.  The medium has a work time of 90 minutes - and if well organised can work with a full 25g block in that time.  Working with small quantities is easier initially - a sheet of paper provides the best work surface. Using gloves - equal parts of A and B are worked together - until the resin is fully mixed in.

Roll into small balls that suit the size and shape of the blank used e.g. create a flattened square if using a blank with corners.  Although guidance suggests that it is possible to remove epoxy resin from finding in work time - in reality not the case - residual is left behind.  Although I've had requests for brooches - limited suitable findings - and what I have tried is more difficult to work with.  Findings designed for use with crystals are good for setting clay into - button blanks, clasps & earring findings.  Chatons and charms are placed and pressed into the clay using a wax coated stick.  Reshape and leave to set for 48 hours.

Charms & Chatons
Vintage Navettes & Tiles
Gold Crystal Clay
Silver Crystal Clay

Friday, 31 October 2014

Twinkle & Twins - Miss Mandas Christmas Vintage & Craft Fair, Durham City

Twinkle & Twins - 12 mm rivoli
Twinkle & Twins - double layer - 12 mm chaton

Twinkle & Twins started to take shape six months ago - the component formed a star within the four seasons winter challenge.  I recently revisited the concept for the OTTBS September Challenge - creating a star design that works well as a decoration, pendant or component.

Twinkle & Twins - 8 mm rivoli
The design has given me the opportunity to tackle my vintage stash - ahead of my next event at Durham Town Hall - 1st November 2014 - doors open at 10am.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Tinsel Trees and forthcoming events.........

Tinsel Trees - designed by Jenny Argyle for Absolute Beads, 2012
Creativity is in more of a festive direction with the forthcoming flurry of Christmas Fairs.  The kit can be purchased from Absolute Beads.

As the school half term ends - prepping for my first Christmas Fair of the season - tomorrow at the Discovery Museum

Saturday 1st November 2014 - Durham Town Hall
28th to 30th November 2014 - Brancepeth Castle

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Four seasons - summer

Summer Meadows Collar 
I was reunited with my designs today - from Stitch n craft Beads - great to get feedback!

The summer meadows collar was designed a year ago - inspired by the nature reserve in Oakenshaw - filled with wild flowers in the summer months - giving a spattering of colour.   The focal point is a sunflower created from the rivoli and rizos.  Lilac butterflies sit within the summer sky.  The free form nature of the stitches add texture and depth to the design.  Copper chain was added late in the day - to sit with the picture perfect nature of the design.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Four Seasons - Spring Doodle Flower

Spring Doodle Flower
Spring of the four seasons challenge was your choice - I had already planned that this would be soutache - given the time involved in the medium - a brooch it was.

One of my first soutache designs - Soutache in Bloom - a beginners pattern - was inspired by flowers.  Soutache in bloom was created on one layer - so Spring Doodle Flower is a step up - created on two layers.  

The design was inspired by the dagger beads - I was struggling to see these within the flower focal - so they became the leaf at the base of the flower.  Do doodles of flowers have one leaf or two?  The doodle shaped the use of the lilac facets - individually enclosed in two warps of cord.  These petals were placed irregularly around the focal to depict a quick sketch.  

The secret to the design is two layers of ultrasuede - behind the focal.  First layer added the decorative edging around the chessboard focal.  The brooch back and doodle petals were then stitched/glued to this first layer.  The decorative edge was then used to attach a second layer of ultrasuede behind the focal.  With irregular structures it is best to cut the ultrasuede to the correct shape as you edge the design - this accommodates the curvature and thickness created at the back from the warps.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Four Seasons - Autumn Fall Cuff

Autumn Fall Cuff

The four seasons challenge run by Stitchncraft was definitely that ...........not one initial idea became a final piece.  I initially signed up for beady mojo - but presented with a few crystals and a professional entry category - it was a little bit daunting.  For once I was out of ideas......summer was a collar that I started during the Christmas holiday and still wasn't sure about until it was backed - the night before I had to post.

The Autumn Cuff was initially a free form design around a peyote bezel triangle - but after a day of experimenting with bead counts - I suspect my tension was too tight - I had half a peyote bezel that was a touch too small. So I increased the bead size and produced a bezel that looked like a crumpled leaf - embroidery it was!  Thankfully I have tiny wrists - so my first bead embroidery cuff is 6 inches - taking around 35 hours to stitch.  The design had developed and grown over the day I had struggled with a peyote bezel - I wanted the cuff to depict the colour changes of my commute into Durham during the autumn months.  On the left - leafs start of all shades of green.......

Autumn Fall Cuff

 As autumn progresses - the rich vibrant red - gives away to a golden fall........

Autumn Fall Cuff

The fill was created using stop stitch to capture the texture of the woods.  Given I'm new to embroidery I wanted to demonstrate I could create a piece using traditional stitches - with my own spin!  The seed bead size varied from size 15 to 8 - the subtle change in colour was created using size 15 stop beads that moved from green to red to brown.  Bronze charlottes were used as stop beads throughout the design to bring cohesion,

Autumn Fall Cuff

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Bead meets and 3 day event!

The third weekend of the month - Saturday19th July 2014 - sees me at two bead meets again!  The morning will see me at Darlington Bead Club - I will be beavering away on my Four Seasons Challenge......panic is setting in as I am slow at bead embroidery!  The afternoon will see me at NEBBies meet at Knotty Hill Golf Centre in Sedgefield.  The meet is from 2 to 5 pm - Liz is kindly demonstrating a hand stitched spiral bracelet - Size 9 seed beads required (2 colours!).

The weekend will also see me start the process of adding labels to stock and making earrings ........in the run up to the 3 day event at Brancepeth Castle.  Doors open at 10am on Friday 25th July 2014 and close 5pm Sunday 27th July 2014.

I have a small table at this portfolio entry event - so do let me know of any specific requests!  I will have accessible to expensive stock with me.  My listings for physical items on Etsy will be deactivated over that weekend.

The craft fair is a great local event - I am lucky that I live so close.......so many stalls - brilliant for gifts......it is usually where I do my Christmas shopping......even in the summer!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Beading Competitively

Jade with a twist

Battle of the Beadsmith ongoing.......why do we bead competitively?  The above design I entered into Bead Star at the end of March - the first entry into an international competition.  Not making the grade is disheartening.........but there are also lessons to be learned from that.....it puts me in touch with how students feel when they under perform.

Now do I knuckle down for the Four Seasons Challenge - the school holidays create the space to execute the designs in my head?! 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Free tutorial - Cuff links

To create a pair of cuff links - will need chain nose pliers, round nose pliers and crimping pliers.
  • 10 mm ceramic beads with flowers (2)
  • 4 spacer beads
  • 8 mm by 6 mm fluorite doughnut beads (2)
  • 2 inch head pins (4)
  • Soldered jump rings (2)
Ingredients for one
1) Place a spacer bead, 10 mm ceramic bead and spacer bead on a headpin.  Using round nose pliers - bend head pin using fingers to 90 degrees.
90 degree fold of head pin
2) Re-position round nose pliers - form a turned loop using fingers - insert closed jump ring.
Addition of closed jump ring
3) Form a wrapped loop using chain nose pliers - smoothing down final end by using crimping pliers.
Crimping pliers to smooth ends
4) Now completed focal bead of cufflink.
Focal bead
5) Place a 8 mm by 6 mm fluorite doughnut on a second head pin. Using chain nose pliers - bend head pin using fingers to 90 degrees.
90 degree fold of head pin
6) Using round nose pliers - bend using fingers - to form a turned loop.
Starting turned loop
7) Re-position round nose pliers - and complete loop - add closed jump ring with focal bead.
Closing opening - using wrapped loop
8) As described in step 3 - smoothing down ends of wrapped loop to complete first cuff link
Completed cuff link

Using doughbut bead pass through button holes of cuff.
Closure created

Friday, 13 June 2014

O Bead Wrap

New beads offer flexibility and scope for a range of designs.  When the O Bead was released in winter 2013 - immediately saw the potential for their use in kumihimo.  The large hole in the O Bead means more than one pass is possible - with this in mind and the monthly OTTBS male challenge theme - finally  got my act together and started experimenting with the O Beads.  This is an accessible design to braid but weight, thread bobbins and lots of patience are key to neat tension.  Taking less than 5g of O beads and a few metres of 0.5 mm C-lon - these are an accessible make for summer wear.   Unusual shank buttons really add to the design - these 10 mm vintage buttons with shank - were a nice find at Tynemouth market.

I was hoping to share my first freeform creation - but announcing the Bead Star finalists has been put back to the end of the month.......

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Soutache heart drops

My latest soutache design was inspired by 'Hearts for Becs'.

I wanted to create a heart that would reflect that the well wishes were from me - so soutache and purple would obviously feature - my small contribution to a heartfelt beaded message.

The heart is 12mm - I don't think I'd ever entertained adding soutache to such a small gemstone. Whilst stitching thought these would be great earrings for leavers dinner - a nice little evening project.......edged with size 15 seed beads - magnifying lamp called for.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Project in Bead Me Magazine

I was absolutely thrilled when Aztec Flower was selected as a project for the latest issue of the digital publication Bead Me Magazine  - http://bit.ly/BeadMeMagazine.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Kumihimo - the square plate!

I'm often asked what the benefits of a square plate are over a round disk - simple answer - some braids are just far easier on the plate!  Tension can be harder to maintain on the plate - so a good weight and bobbins are an essential.

The next NEBBies meet is this Saturday - 24th May 2014 - 2 to 5pm - at Knotty Hill Golf Club House!  For those new to the plate - I will demo the 10 warp and 20 warp braids.

This 10 warp braid is created using the instructions that come with the plate - 5 colours (2 metres of each) and closure.

Twenty warps creates a chevron flat braid - 5 colours (4 metres of each) and closure.  Start point shown below - on my old plate reserved for thick cords.....personally I think it is way easier than the 10 warp!

For those who are wanting to learn how to add beads - need Slon Tex - and beads that accommodate 2 passes of the cord!  This is set up on my plate reserved for fine cord.  Beads are added as you go - so no need for pre-loading.  I have used 10 metres and a shank button as a closure.  I needed an extra piece of cord at attached the weight to the shank button.

Useful extras are scissors, tape measure, needle and thread and fabric glue.  If you are using 1mm or 2mm rattail - ribbon clasp - and jewellery glue suitable for metals.