Sunday, 12 May 2013

Double Layer Rick Rack

It's been aaages since I last blogged.  Probably because it's taken me a good long while to make my newest bracelet!

As you know, Kate McKinnon recently released the amazing Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, an absolutely astounding book which I reviewed here and which you can buy here (USA) and here (UK).  I loved the zigged MRAW band so much, and after seeing Jean Power's absolutely exquisite Double Rick Rack in her book, Geometric Beadwork, which I reviewed here, and I just knew I needed to put the two together!  Jean shows how to do a flat Rick Rack, which is what I wanted to make, rather than a bangle.  I wanted this cuff to sit close to the wrist and her method of turning was so elegantly simple that I was quite frankly blown away!

I decided I wanted to use a black opaque background and then use a really bonkers mix of galvanised delicas.  I literally got all the duracoats  I had in my stash and mixed a great big dollop of beads (which I'm really not looking forward to separating out again).

Here I am after only a few rows of beadwork on each side.  Using the zigged band was fantastic because it meant that the sizing was pretty accurate even after just making that. I was a bit dippy doing all of the MRAW in opaque black though - when I was joining the two layers at the end, it sent me quite cross-eyed trying to follow where I was!

I had a hell of a time doing both layers together though, the thread wanted to wrap itself around all those gorgeous points pretty much every stitch I made.  I really ought to figure out a better way of keeping my thread out the way!

In this picture you can see that the top open layer just wanted to go every which way! 

And then I was done - finally!  The bracelet from the back looks quite dull in this photo but in real life you can really see how the beads change direction and the difference in the way the light behaves off their surface.  I like that this bracelet could be worn this way, as although it doesn't really pop with colour, the direction changes and the overall thickness gives it quite the impact.

I sewed through the turn beads on the ends and all I did was attach jump rings and a slide catch.  To be honest I may change the jumps to something slightly smaller so it sits a tiny touch tighter on my wrist but they were all I had to hand when I was finishing up this evening.

And  here is the finished bracelet, face on.  Hope you like it.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Volume I by Kate McKinnon

Guess what arrived through my door at the back end of last week?  Oh yes, the amazing new book by Kate McKinnon - Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Volume I

 And would you look at that?!!  My Red Many Horn had the honour of becoming one of the swag postcards!  Crikey!

 Inside the book is signed by Kate and just opening the front page made me practically squeal with delight at how crammed full this book is!  Seriously $40 (£26.30 for real money conversions!) is nothing for how much is in this book.  The 200+ pages practically burst forth with knowledge and unbelievable beadwork on every page!

I love that the very first part of the Basics section is titled "Yes You Can!" because to a new beader, or a beader that hasn't played with peyote stitch very much, it probably would look quite intimidating.  The fact is that we're taken from the very basic of shapes, through to amazing complex structures in a logical, well thought out way and if you were a beginner, you could start at the beginning and simply work your way through the book, from basic flat triangles, through power puffs (a la Jean Power - remember this book is inspired by her work), meandering through wings, horns, zigs, zags to the awe inspiring dizzy heights of the Fortuneteller Bangle before ending on beautiful cones. 

Each page is thrillingly illustrated with all sorts of colour combinations and project step outs that make me gasp in bewilderment at the beauty of the piece and the mind of it's creator. Some of the colours used are breathtakingly beautiful and others I would never have put together in a million years, yet sing together.  Each page is an inspiration.

Peppered throughout the book are these beautiful "Pearl Of Wisdom" boxes - and they really are!  I love these little boxes so much - they explain complex ideas simply and convey excellent advice in areas that cause the most pickles.  Love love love!

Of course, I'm slightly biased in that a happy accident brought my work to Kate's attention.  Way back last summer I sent some works to Jean for the book (before one book became two), Jean sent those pieces, including my Pyramids Cuff to Kate.  Kate put it up on the Facebook page saying how much she liked it and the response from the community was overwhelmingly supportive.  I offered the pattern for inclusion and it got in!  To see my actual name in print was pretty awesome, especially after being so lucky to see my name next to the beaded beads I made in Jean's book! 

 My Red Many Horn looking amazingly surreal and perfectly Queen of Hearts in this Alice In Wonderland style picture!

Further on in the book you can see the Pink Pinstripe Ruffle Cuff that I made and sent to Kate.

Below is a list of the the people who contributed and beaded - the whole project felt like Kate was the captain of a huge (and probably rather unwieldy!) ship, flinging out ideas and little nuggets of advice that we all fed upon and made our own and passed back to her for approval and all was approved, every item was greeted with absolute pleasure and amazement which spurred the whole community on to further amaze and delight.  This book is not just a static book but simply a snapshot of what is evolving on the eBook (password protected) and on the Facebook Page (just click "Like" to join this thriving and vibrant community and enjoy the delights as they are created).  It is thoroughly bizarre and utterly wonderful the way this is an open source project.  Join, get the book as a souvenir but come and get involved in this project, you'll find that you are so much more capable than you ever thought possible.  I have.

And this is the author picture of the lady herself.  Wearing a crown, naturally.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Rainbow Jester Bangle

So this is my most recent make:
It is pretty much the only thing that I've been working on since I moved into my new home.  I wanted something bright and a little bit bonkers to reflect the celebratory mood I have been in since we moved here!  I also wanted to try to tackle my fear of using lots of colours.  I have seen so many amazing pieces on the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Facebook page that take full advantage of clever use of colour that I thought it was about time I jumped in and joined the joy!

As you can see, I went for easy colour choice because I know my limits and didn't want to end up spending weeks making something that I hated!  I will get there though!

I adore the black and white stripes that almost look like they could be Square Stitch - they're not, everything but the MRAW bellybands are made using peyote. 

I'm super glad I used some black magatamas to finish the horns off - they made me chuckle to myself because they change the look of the horns from quite aggressive looking (as in the Red Many Horn) into chipper, playful peaks.

The spots of colour, however, are my absolute favourite part of this bangle.  Yes they may just be a tiny part of it, but they really do join the wings, the stripes and the horns together into a whole.  I think if I'd left the wings plain black (which I was very close to doing) then it would have felt much more disjointed and possibly would have lost it's playfulness.  Playful happiness is what I needed this piece to be - it's a celebration after all!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Mummy's Night Sky

For Christmas Mummy asked my baby brother for the Night Sky pattern from BeAdInfinitum and he surprised her by buying her the kit. 

She made the weave slightly thinner than the one in the pattern that came with the kit because she really didn't want it to be tied with a ribbon, corset style, because she knew that would just annoy her whilst typing/working etc.

Instead she made a gorgeous little toggle closure that fits perfectly in the holes of the weave.  As she is a complete genius, this means that the bracelet is adjustable and we can share!  Woop! (Not sure whether she realises she's sharing just yet though!)

 In this last picture you can really see the nature of the weave.  It's a subtle play on size and colour contrast and I absolutely love it.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Another Heart

After seeing Mummy's absolutely gorgeous Sabine Lippert Sweet Heart earrings I simply had to make up a heart of my own.

The pattern was extremely easy to bead but my goodness by the end of it my needle was totally mangled!  It's quite a deceptively clever little pattern that relies on bead sizes for turning the tube into a heart with a strategically placed increase and decrease. 

Weaving in the ends was quite a feat because this heart is quite small and with the tiny 15 seed beads in the internal curves I was worried about breakages!  Happily I didn't break a bead so all was good.  Also, tension is a huge factor when making these hearts - if you have a sloppy tension then it just won't lie flat and be a heart, you have to make sure that tension is good and tight, which is lucky for me because I'm quite a tight beader!

I decided that it really was its own feature so I simply used a heavy gauge jump ring threaded through one of the size 8 beads on the curve and hung it from a length of chain with a nice chunky toggle clasp.  I thought about adding some crystals and maybe some other dangly bits but with this one, less is definitely more!  It has quite the impact!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Sabine Lippert's Sweet Hearts

Whilst I was busy moving and having no internet, Mummy made these gorgeous earrings from a pattern by the rather marvellous Sabine Lippert.

How sweet are they?!  I love that she made one a single heart and one with two interlinked hearts.

The pattern is really simple peyote, very quick and easy to bead and is available to buy here.

New House!

So I am finally in my new house and the beading studio is all set up! 

Two sides of the room are windows and a door that leads out to the back garden so the room is wonderfully light during the day and I have a daylight bulb fitted in my anglepoise lamp ready for those night time beading sessions.  The room is lovely and airy and I just couldn't resist going for a super strong turquoise feature wall to display my Marilyn Monroe prints (there's one on the other side of the internal door too) and I cannot wait to get beading again!

Mummy and I are setting up a night a week to sit together and bead and try to work through new patterns and pieces.  It is going to be blissful and I am so lucky to be able to have a studio!  Yay!