Wednesday, 3 February 2021

January Retrospective

 I must say, I've beaded more in January than I have in a very long time, and I've really enjoyed it. Although there were only 5 weeks in January (I've been beading a pair of earrings for every weekend, rather than every week)... I've actually made 7 pairs of earrings! If you read my new years resolution blog, you'll be familiar with the first two pairs, but I wanted to keep a record of each month's makes together, so I've included them here again. 

Tassels and Superduos - my own design. 

Scintilla Earrings - my own design. 
Keep your eye out for Bead & Jewellery Magazine issue 107 to see a tutorial for how to make these.

RAW Pearl Bezel design by Jean Power from her book Rivoli Beadwork. 
I initially made these as I'd seen a friend make them with sapphire rivolis and cream pearls, and they were beautiful, but very traditional looking - I wanted to see how different they would look with dark pearls and a lighter rivoli. The long kidney wire earring findings added to the different look. I really love them. 

In fact, I loved them so much.... I beaded a second pair! 

These are based on the Bicone Snowflake design from Jean Power's book Rivoli Beadwork, although I have used chatons - the 14mm chatons are lovely, etched Chinese crystal chatons which have a really unusual look.

I am in love with these Little Lantern earrings from Sabine Lippert's book Beaded Fantasies.   I made a pair years ago and they have been worn a LOT, so making a second pair seemed like a good idea. They were quick to make up and used some really interesting construction techniques, as Sabine's beadwork always does. 

This last pair for January are my design. A simple loop of CRAW with a crystal dangle in the middle. I must say, if nothing else, I'm very impressed with my wire wrapped loops on these earrings. They're neat and they match - that's quite a feat for me! 

I hope you've enjoyed joining me on my earring journey in January. If you have any questions about the designs I used, or have any suggestions for future months, please drop me a message in the comments. 

I've also noticed that my colour schemes seem to fall into the pink or blue/grey box, so if you have suggestions for colours you think I should try, just let me know. 

Friday, 1 January 2021

2021 New Years Resolutions

 The beginning of a new year is the time to make new starts and new resolutions.  I'm not normally one for new years celebrations or resolutions, but this year I've been inspired. 

I was asked by the lovely Clair Rigby if I would like to join her in her #earringchallenge2021 to make a pair of earrings every week in 2021. This is a no-pressure challenge, and I'm aware that I'm not going to be able to achieve this every week - but it is at least, an incentive to bead each week. It's also giving me the opportunity to do something that I've been thinking about for quite some time, which is to document my creative endeavours in a slightly more structured way. At the moment, if I'm lucky, there will be a picture of something I've made on my phone... but no information on materials, who the designer was (if I used a pattern), what inspired me (if it's my design), what materials I used etc. So I'd like to use this challenge and my blog to gather this information. I'm aiming to blog once a month and post my weekly makes on Instagram. If you don't already follow my on Instagram, you can find me @beadsbybecs

To start the year off, I've got a couple of earring makes I have to confess, the super-sparkly pair I started in 2020, but I attached the ear wires in 2021 (that counts, right!?). 

These are made with some lovely white opal Swarovski chatons and the bezels are made with 3mm and 4mm bicones. This is my Scintilla pattern (it'll be released later this year). 

If you can get more glam than all this sparkle, then this second pair of earrings fit that bill. They're much more dressy, and they continue along my little self-challenge of making bezels with different beads to just regular seed beads. 

These are bezelled using superduos - superduets actually - they're navy on one side and cream on the other. The rivolis are Chinese crystal rather than Swarovski, but still incredibly pretty. I made the tassels using a Clover tassel maker and three different colours of thread - navy, hot pink and a silver-grey. Also, I tend to use wire guardians at the top to add the ear wires, they're very hard-wearing and give a professional looking finish. 

I'm quite happy with these two pairs of earrings as a start to the year and to the challenge - I've started as I mean to go on. 

I think six years ago I set a resolution to learn to knit, and I learnt to knit and fell so passionately in love with it that I ended up getting repetitive strain injury from knitting, and now I can't do it without considerable pain, but the point I'm getting at, is that I know I can stick to a resolution, and I know I can fall in love with a creative idea - not necessarily *just* making earrings, because I know that'll probably be a little too restrictive, but I want to fall in love with making again, and the process of relaxing with my beads, instead of sitting with my phone in my hand, endlessly scrolling and watching the doom and gloom go by. 

Sunday, 1 November 2020

 It's been an age since I last blogged, and I though that I should start again... to keep you all updated with what's going on in my beady little mind. 

Firstly, lockdown has been really tough on my creativity and except for a couple of Zoom classes I took, I stopped beading altogether!

Moving house seemed to bring my creativity back though, so I'm back to beading, designing and enjoying myself. 

I thought I'd share a little free tutorial with you all for some beaded beads made from pinch beads.  They're cute little beaded beads and make pretty earrings. 

To make one beaded bead

15 pinch beads

5 size 11 beads

Beading thread - I usually use fireline, but KO or OneG  beading threads or similar in colours that match your beads will work just as well. 

Scissors or thread zap

Beading mat

Step 1

Pick up 3 pinch beads and tie them into a circle.  Thread through the next pinch bead in the circle.

Step 2

Pick up two pinch beads, and thread through the bead your thread is exiting from to make another triangle.  Thread through the two beads just added.

Step 3

Pick up 2 pinch beads, and pass through the bead your thread is coming out from to create a triangle.  Go through the first pinch bead added in this step.

Step 4

Pick up two pinch beads, and thread through the bead your thread is exiting from to make another triangle.  Thread through the two beads just added.

Step 5

Thread through the bead marked with an arrow, pick up one pinch bead, and then thread through the bead your thread was exiting at the start of this step.  Keep threading through bead until your thread is coming out of one of the side beads (shown with an arrow).

Step 6

Pick up two pinch beads and go through the bead the thread was exiting at the beginning of this step.  Go through the first pinch bead again.

Note – The beads from this step onwards are purple to make it easier to see what to do.

Step 7

Pick up one pinch bead, go round through one of the side beads, back towards the beads already added in step 6 – following the arrows in the diagram, so you are exiting the next side bead around.

Follow the numbers on the arrows to show the thread path.

Step 8

Pick up one pinch bead, go down the next pinch bead, through the side bead, then up the pinch bead just added – see the arrows and follow the numbers to see the thread path.

Step 9

Pick up one pinch bead, go along through a side bead, up a pinch bead, and down through the pinch bead just added (follow the arrows and numbers to show the thread path).
Step 10

This step finished off the pinch beads… without picking up any beads, go through the side bead, up a pinch bead, down the next pinch bead, and back through the side bead.

Step 11

Now to embellish the side of the bead… pick up one size 11 seed bead, pass through the next side pinch bead.  Repeat this all the way around the bead.  Weave the thread through the beads to get to the start, tie the ends together and trim the threads.

I hope you've enjoyed making these little beaded beads. If you've given them a go, please leave me a message below - I'd love to hear what you think. 

Happy Beading! 

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Unicorn Balls

In October last year, I went to the Big Bead Show - nothing too unusual about that.  I had a lovely chat with Vicky Roberts, the new editor of Bead and Jewellery Magazine and she asked if I would be interested in designing something new and geometric for the magazine. Of course, I was interested!
I decided to re-imagine my spike-balls, to include some two-hole beads in them to make them easier to zip together, giving them a different look. 

Here are my original spike balls...

They are made from twelve spike beads, each set in a pentagon - making a dodecahedron. These spike balls are made entirely using 'traditional' seed beads, with crystal embellishments.  The tutorial for these spike balls is available in my Etsy shop

When I initially designed these spike balls (back in 2012), two-hole beads weren't readily available, and I certainly hadn't considered designing with them. Now there are so many choices! I chose to use miniduos when re-imagining my spike-balls as they're the smallest of the two-hole beads, and they fit in nicely with the size of the beads I had used in the bezels. 

These spiky balls, (named 'Unicorn Balls' by a friend of mine) have been published in Issue 85 of Bead and Jewellery Magazine.  
The team at Bead and Jewellery Magazine liked my design enough to decide to put it on  the cover of the magazine! I was so shocked and delighted when I saw it, I actually squeaked! 

The second generation of spike balls are slightly larger than the first, and the way the miniduos interlock and form triangles at the corners makes them a slightly stronger structure. 

I love the way that beading is so versatile that you can re-engineer a design to accommodate new bead shapes and techniques. 

Friday, 10 July 2015

That's no moon.... it's a space station!

Oh dear, it has been far too long since I last blogged - I am so sorry!
I have been wanting to blog about a piece of beadwork I made for quite some time (I actually finished it in January), but I had to wait until the judging of a competition before I could publicly share it.
I decided to take part in the Beadworkers Guild Crystal Anniversary Competition; it was sponsored by Swarovski, so it had to be something bling.
I'm not often a very sparkly beader - I have the odd moment when I go crazy with crystals, but usually, I'd prefer pearls.  After my first geometric beaded sculpture being accepted as a finalist at the British Bead Awards, I decided to make another piece along the same lines.  Still 60 triangles, but joined together in a different arrangement, to make a stellated dodecahedron (a round(ish) structure made from 12 pentagonal pyramids).

To show off the crystals to their best, I decided to make the majority of the structure from white delicas.  Buying delicas in 50g packs was something quite new to me... it felt very odd!  To complement the white, I added a pale pink (think coconut ice) and a matte copper to embellish the edges of the triangles. 
I chose five different finishes of Swarovski chaton to include, and a generous sprinkling of Swarovski sequins to add some shine to the vertices.
As my first geometric structure ended up with a nickname (sixty flippin' triangles), this one did too - I jokingly started calling it The DeathStar (I am a secret sci-fi geek).
When I had finally finished making it and stitching all of the triangles together, it was so close to the deadline... I only just made it!  I took some photos and submitted them, and I was honoured to find I had been selected as a finalist in the competition.  The Beadworkers Guild website has a gallery of all of the finalists and winners.There is some incredible work on display in the gallery, it is well worth checking out. 

I wasn't selected as a winner, but I am grateful to have got through to the final round of the judging.
Here is my DeathStar... It's so nice to have it back, proudly displayed in my living room.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

New Year's Resolutions

A slightly late post, but I wanted to share my new year's resolutions with you all.  I made two resolutions this year:

  1. Learn to knit properly
  2. Avoid being diagnosed with cancer again
Ok, so the second one I couldn't control all that much, but I've managed to keep it so far... despite investigations to exclude bladder cancer.  I've got the all-clear... phew!

So, learning to knit properly.  I've included 'properly' in this as I could just about knit... not really purl, I certainly could do any shaping.  I started a little early (between Christmas and new year), and bought myself a Craftsy class - Knit Lab, by Stefanie Japel.

Hours later, I could cast on, bind off knit and purl... I could increase and decrease in many ways and I'd made a lacy scaflet!  

So, what to knit next... I though a scarf and hat would be good... not matching though.... I'm never that co-ordinated!

The scarf is bamboozle yarn, it's thick and thin in places and has the most amazing mix of colours.  It reminded me of spring, and was a great excuse to practice stockingette stitch.
The hat was worked flat in Sublime cashmere, merino and silk blend and stitched up the back.  It's cosy and soft and lovely to wear.

As my husband has a love of funky hats (he wears a hat every day, whatever the weather) I thought I'd knit him a stripy one (to practice changing colours).  He loves it, although it's not as warm or distinctive as his usual head-wear.

My next victim (or recipient) was my niece... she is a gorgeous little girl, always smiling... this was my first attempt at using double-point needles, knitting in the round.  It was made using the left over cashmere, merino silk blend that my hat was made of... and the pompom on top was made from the left-over bamboozle.

Next I decided to tackle cable knitting... after a couple of practice squares, I moved onto another hat... this one in grey aran wool/acrylic blend.

So, after all that, I thought I should probably make a garment of some description... and I didn't want to start a massive project knitting for  me (plus-size knitting takes a lot of time and a lot of yarn); so I opted for something for my niece again.  This is a kimono-style cardigan, designed by Mary Kate Long.  Again it is made in Sublime, cashmere, merino and silk so it is lovely against the skin, and I finished it off with cute little flower buttons.  
My pet-panda, Barry, decided he wanted to model it, but very soon it will be worn by my niece... I just hope it fits!! 

Friday, 28 November 2014

Beaded Baubles

I love beading beautiful but quirky, whimsical things; Christmas decorations are right up my street!  As it turns out, I really enjoy beading baubles, and it seems that they are very popular.  I am selling them as fast as I am beading them (sometimes faster!).

So, here are photos of the baubles I've beaded recently.... I'd love to hear what you think of them.

Unless it says otherwise, these baubles are for sale for £10 each (+p&p - UK addresses only).