Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Geometric Beadwork by Jean Power

If you know me then you will know that Jean Power is my favourite bead artist. Ever.  She completely and utterly rocks.

I was drawn to her geometric beading some years ago and just love how the pieces are so utterly modern, stylish and adaptable.  I love clean lines and outsized beadwork and she designs the most amazing works.

Over the past year or so she has been writing a book of her beading life's works, Geometric Beadwork, which I pre-ordered (naturally!) and it came in the post last week:

I actually squee'd (not something I'm prone to do!) when I saw the inside cover:

And in this post you can see the pentagon beaded beads I made that were included!

So I thought I'd write a little review and encourage you to buy the book too!

She starts us off with a note of reassurance that she is not a mathematician and that you don't need to be either to create the pieces in this tome - which is lucky really because I don't think a B in GCSE maths would class me as a mathematical genius!  Mummy, however, has a maths degree (freak!) so reads this book on a totally different level to me and probably 'gets it' in a completely different way! 

We delve into the start and discover the terminology Jean uses in the book; increases, decreases, stitching on etc.  Each little bit of terminology is beautifully illustrated and is written in plain English.  If you have only a very basic knowledge of peyote stitch, I am absolutely sure you would understand what she is talking about.  We move on to Tips - and this is so informative and really helpful to all levels of beaders.  We all have something to learn after all.  I simply adore her advice to think about beading like cooking - that we all have to start somewhere and we get better as we learn.  Simple, practical and absolutely true!

Materials and Tools has some great information in it - I've never used gimp, but I'm certainly going to give it a try.  Also, number one on my wishlist is a bangle sizer!  How I have survived this long without one is beyond me!

I love the section on Colour and Design.  Colour is an area I'm very weak in and tend to be quite wary of using it.  This is probably the reference section that I will use the most because it really does have some great tips.  My favourite non-pattern page by far and I'm absolutely adoring Jean for including it!

There are a few more reference pages that show increasing, decreasing, zipping and joining that I think will be completely invaluable to someone who is new to geometric and shaped beadwork.  But then we come to the Widening Your Horizons feature.  Completely sound advice with stunningly simple "In a nutshell" boxes that explain in a few sentences for the advanced beader so they can jump right in.  In fact the "In a nutshell" features with each pattern and is an exquitely simple idea for an advanced beader to have a look at, quickly flick through the pattern if needed and get started.  I love this little box!

The patterns section of the book starts with Triangles.  If you've never done any geometric beading then I implore you to give these little bad boys a go!  These simple little shapes are so unbelievably versatile that my head almost explodes trying to think about it!  Jean steers you through making flat single triangles that make up to a deliciously indulgent bracelet, through Power Puffs, beaded beads, rings and huge pendants before hitting you slap in the face with the glorious Caldera bangle which is a feat of engineering and colour play!  I love it so much that I've already started making one!!!
There is a tremendous gallery of triangle-related works and pointers on how to design your own, which I think will be invaluable to me.  Some of the colours used are ones that I would never put together and they work in harmony to create stunning pieces - I'm sure this will provide me with lots of colour inspiration.

The following chapter is all about squares, but not squares as we know them!  These are distorted squares and Jean introduces us gently, leading us through how they are beaded up, through forms made of multiple distorted squares to stars made from these magnificent shapes!  I'm a huge fan of Jean's Stars (as you can see here!) and have made them many, many times - they never get old because the possibilities are endless!  We are treated to an open star, which I think has some great potential and cannot wait to start making.

The next section is Pentagons.  Pentagons are possibly the most complex geometric shape that I've ever beaded but my goodness they are so beautiful and so worth it!  Jean starts us off slow, teaching us the basic shape and how it is made with the Pentagon Star - I highly recommend that you make a few of these to start with because the form of the star shows you exactly where to put your increases and stitch-ons because they are a different colour!  Once you've done a few of these, pentagons will be as easy as pie and then we can run full face into the Pentagon Bangle, the Pentagon Secret and all the other exquisite delights shared in this section. 

The final chapter is Beyond Corners and we are treated to some devastatingly gorgeous delights.  We travel through horns, rick racks, double and (oh my goodness) layered rick racks, flowers and the most sublime Geometric Tulip.

All in all, this book is worth so much more than £35!  Not only are there 28 actual projects, which would make it an absolute bargain, but the reference section and the galleries, as well as tips and hints make it a blooming steal!  I seriously urge you to buy this book if you're a fan of peyote, if you like geometric/shaped beadwork, if you're looking for something a little different from all the 'pretties and sparkles' that seem to be in the magazines at the moment, if you need something to push your abilities (whatever level you may be), you will find it a godsend.

Finally, huge congratulations and kudos to Jean for producing such an outstanding addition to my bookshelf - not that it's even made it there yet!  And thank you.  A lot.

Red Many-Horn

As you will know if you read my blog, Kate McKinnon is curating a new book called Contemporary Geometric Beadwork (buy it here) that is a sister to Jean Power's absolutely incredible Geometric Beadwork (yes, I will be talking about that in my next post!) 

Kate has invited beaders all over the world, of all abilities, to get inspiration from the pictures she's posting and has given people who have pre-ordered heads up on various techniques and designs and then send her pictures for the book/eBook/website/facebook.  After seeing the Horned Melon by Kate I was fizzing with inspiration and absolutely itching to do a rendition in shades of red.

I started with the M-RAW bangle base that Kate gave pre-orders and decided that I would have seven horns to start with.

As the horns got bigger and bigger, the cuff just wanted to twist and bend and fall down into odd squares.  This, for me was utterly exciting because I didn't know how far these structures could be pushed before they became unfeasable...

After 25 rows on one side of the horn, I was worried about whether I would have enough silver lined red delicas rather than being worried that the horns would become unstable.  I'm quite a tight beader and definitely think 50 rows per horn side is achievable, if a little impractical for a cuff!

I started to decrease but for the first few rows, the cuff showed absolutely no signs of behaving and turning into an actual cuff rather than a beaded 'form'!

However, a few more rows and a little manipulation and the cuff started to take shape.  

I made the opening of the cuff 14 beads larger on this side by decreasing down 24 rows rather than 25 as I knew that it would end up being quite a large cuff and that a bit of forearm would need to be accommodated!  There's nothing worse than a gorgeous cuff that only skeletons can wear because it's too small!

In this picture you can see that I'm beginning to add a row of RAW so that the cuff is symmetric:

And then I started to make some wings using colour lined chocolate cherry delicas.  Well, at least when I started they were going to be wings!

In this picture you can see that I made the darker red wings/horn beginnings start their shape right in the centre between the large horn.  This is because the original idea was to make two sides of wings and join them at the point row in the same way as I did the Pink Pinstripe Ruffle Cuff...

But they wanted to be horns as well!  These horns are 14 rows per side (I think!), so that they don't stick out as much as the bright red horns.

I edged the opening with two rows of the silver lined red to give it a bit of a more polished finish.  And then  started again on the other side...

All finished!  Please excuse the rather rubbish pictures - I took them the evening I finished it and it was about 11 o' clock at night! 

All in all, it is a truly vicious cuff that makes me think of warrior queens and Japanese anime characters and superheroes all in one!  I love how BIG it is and how spiky it is and above all, I love the colours.

UPDATE: Someone asked in the comments what this cuff looks like on.  Unfortunately I don't have a picture of me wearing it but I do have a picture of my son, Xander, wearing it!  Yes, it clashes with his top but he said he felt like a superhero so I let him wear it for a bit :)