Sunday, 8 January 2012

Am I good enough?

I have been a beader for just over 4 years now, and I have to say, I am completely hooked... I'm a bead addict. I love the way that the little seed beads fit together to make so many different shapes, and how all the different stitches feel, and how they work together.  Up until now, I have been a self-taught beader - learning from books, tutorials, the internet etc.  I even class myself as a novice designer - coming up with a few original designs of my own - I've even sold a few tutorials online, and had one of my designs published in a magazine.

The more I bead, the more I want to get into designing properly, and I want to start taking some classes, and more than anything, I'd like to meet some other beaders!

There are some pro beaders out there that I really admire, I am even honoured enough to have a few of them as 'friends' on facebook.  One beader whose work I admire a lot is Laura McCabe, she is renowned for her seed-beading around rivolis, highly faceted Swarovski crystals.  Rivolis have no holes, they have a flat-ish front, and a pointed back.  They have such depth to them, and they come in an amazing array of colours, shapes and sizes, they are truly stunning.  The reason I'm talking about Laura McCabe today is that I am contemplating taking one of her 'master-class' classes, designing and making beaded sculpture - it's being taught at Stitchncraft, in Dorset, which will become one of my local bead shops when I move later this month.

There were two things putting me off going to this work shop... the first is a lame reason - I didn't really want to go on my own, and the second is what this blog is about - am I good enough?

Regarding going on my own, I now know two people from one of the groups I belong to on facebook who are going, so I won't be on my own, but the second bothers me more.  To help me decide if I am good enough, I've bought one of Laura's tutorials - to make the ultimate beaded bead.  I've found some vintage square rivolis online, and ordered them... pretty much everything else is going to come from my stash...

This is what the ultimate beaded bead looks like - photo courtesy of Laura McCabes website.

Mine will not be this colour - it will be a multitude of greys and blacks, with several different bead finishes.  If I find I get on with this pattern, and can follow it, then I'll book the workshop... I'll blog with my progress, as I'm sure it'll take me a while to make - especially as I'm going to be moving house in a few weeks!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

OTTBS Beaded Earring Challenge (week 1)

I belong to a beading group on facebook, and several of us have accepted the challenge to make a pair of earrings a week - for the whole of 2012... I must be mad... but if I stick to it, I'll have 52 new pairs of earrings by the end of the year! 

No idea what on earth I am going to do with 52 pairs of earrings... hopefully sell some of them!

Following on from my last blog post about learning bead embroidery, I though I'd give myself an embroidery challenge for the first week.  So, I sat down with some stiff stiff, some blue mountain jade, some size 11 and 15 seed beads and a bit of ultra-suede and went for it!

So, here they are... my embroidered earrings.

One down... 51 to go!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Learning Bead Embroidery

This year, I have made two new years resolutions... the first is to learn bead embroidery, the second is to write more tutorials (and particularly, to finish the two I have had on the go for bloomin' ages!).

But bead embroidery is the theme today... it's something I've admired for a long time, but never had the courage to give it a try.  Thanks to some gentle persuasion from a very good beady friend, I've taken the plunge!  I didn't need to add much to my stash to get going with this... just some Stiff Stuff, some glue, and some ultra-suede.  Thanks to a de-stash sale on Etsy, I managed to buy enough ultra-suede to last a life-time for $5, and I bought some Stiff Stuff from RB Beads.  I already have a glue gun, although I'm not sure how suitable it is for this purpose, but it'll do for the while... I've also invested in some tacky-glue, which seems to work pretty nicely too!.

So, on to my first attempt.  I decided to keep it pretty free-form, and bead around a small chrysocolla cab, and add some 4mm semi-precious beads in too.
Nancy, my bead embroidery mentor, suggested that I add another row of 11s around the outside to make it easier to finish off, which I did, and finishing off something so wiggly would have been difficult!

Finishing off was something that I couldn't get my head around until after Christmas.  My boyfriend and sister bought me books on bead embroidery.  I got The Art of Bead Embroidery: Technique, Design & Inspiration by Heidi Kummli and Sherry Serafini, and Bead Embroidery by Yukiko Ogura. (My other sister bought me the Bead & Button Right-Angle-Weave Stitch Workshop book... but I'll leave that for another day!)  The books are very different, as they focus on quite different techniques.  The first, is written from two different points of view - each showing how they work certain techniques, and what materials etc they use.  It's full of project ideas from each author, and has a totally inspirational gallery at the back.  The second focuses on individual stitch techniques, showing how to make flowers, leaves, different lines, raised, textured bead work etc.  Both books are beautiful, and I am very grateful to have received them... I just need to find the time to play with all the techniques, and the inspiration to make beautiful things with the techniques.

Do any of you readers do bead embroidery?  I'm curious to find out any hints and tips etc, Is it better to embroider on stiff stuff or ultra-suede?  Ultra-suede feels very floppy - should I use an embroidery frame to keep it tight when I'm sewing?

I'm full of so many questions about this beautiful art - I suppose the only real way to answer them is to dive right in, and have a good old play!  Wish me luck!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Little Beaded Owl

During December, I found I had a recurring dream, about a beadwoven owl... I couldn’t figure out how to make one, but when I mentioned it on a facebook group – it turned out another member had been having a similar dream, and she had found a kit online to make a beaded owl!

The kit is by Heather Kingsley-Heath, and can be found here.  She also sells just the tutorial, so you can pick your own colours etc, which is what I chose to do.  I wanted my little owl to have slightly more natural colouring than the kits offer.  She does explain why her kits are unusual colours on her website - they are based on Kimono fabric, and they are beautiful... just not for me!

I can only speak about the tutorial, not the beads provided in the kit, but it was well presented, in a small booklet, in a plastic binder, with excellent diagrams and well thought-out text.  It explains step-by-step how to make the owl, using the wide variety of stitches required.  It is a real stitch sampler, using peyote, netting, right-angle-weave, herringbone, brick stitch and albion stitch.  Albion stitch is totally new to me, but it is well explained and is easy enough to do to make the little leaves at the end of the branch. Because so many different stitches are used, it is almost impossible to get bored making these little owls!

So, here is my little guy... for some reason, he looks a little cross-eyed, but I don't mind... I think it gives him some character!

(Top photograph from the HeatherWorks website