Sunday, 9 December 2012

Triangle Necklace by Mummy

If you've bought Geometric Beadwork by Jean Power, you will have seen Mummy's gorgeous Triangle Necklace at the top of page 25.  Although she loved the Heroine Necklace, she decided that she would never wear it because it was just too much for her (I wear mine as much as I can!) so she decided to take the elements and make something more wearable.  I love how she can take an idea and pare it down to create the perfect tribute that is also perfect for her.  Lovely job!

This is the necklace in full:

She used the most gorgeous Silver Lined Dark Silver delicas (DB48) for the triangles and then joined them using some delicious Black Diamond Swarovski bicones. 

I love how the triangles are smaller at the back than they are at the front and how the bicones add a little bit of sparkle to a very industrial looking piece.

Mummy also made some delicious matching earrings and bought a perfect solid silver clasp (I must remember to ask her where she found it) that echoed the whole so perfectly.

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 :)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Major Excitement!

Today I had the most amazing email from Jean Power!  Her Geometric Beadwork book has all been finalised and sent to the printers (see her blog post with sneak peek here)!  How very exciting! 

However, the most exciting part of the email she sent me was the sneak peek of the page the pentagon beaded beads were on:
The ones I beaded are the middle grouping of the beaded beads.  And yes, she did give permission for me to blog these images so don't worry!  Those little beaded beads are brilliant for using leftover beads and I can imagine a fabulous bracelet with snake chain and adding one or two and building up over time when you only have a few beads to use up and won't be buying the colour again or just want to get rid of some beads in order to buy more!

Even more wonderful, Jean also included Mummy's Triangles Necklace based on the Heroine Necklace (my version here) and it looks exquisite!!!
Mummy's necklace and earrings are the grey at the top of the page - how gorgeous is that?! In the high resolution pictures, the detail is astounding - each bead is visible and they look amazingly clear.  I will be blogging about this necklace when it comes back from Jean so that you can see how Mummy has taken a real statement piece and toned it down for everyday wear without losing the glamour - she's a bit good is my Mummy!  We'll get it back with the books we pre-ordered in a few weeks as it would be silly for her to send separately when we know we're getting the books very soon.  Watch this space...

I'm just so chuffed!  This has topped off an enormously good week for me: Depeche Mode tickets, mortgage sorted for my new house AND a little bit of our beading in a book by my favourite bead artist!  Seriously, how could this possibly get any better?!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Mummy's Triangles

My amazing Mummy has just uploaded this picture to our Facebook page:

How gorgeous is that?!

She started with the large triangle (which I originally thought was going to be a bangle), adjusting the count from Jean Power's Heroine Necklace triangle links.  In it's first incarnation, the centre was filled with the other two triangles, one inside the other suspended by crystals.  After about a week of musing she decided she didn't like it at all and cut the triangles out and rearranged them as you see here.  I love it!

The centrepiece is hung from a simple six-round herringbone rope to enhance the simplicity of the triangles and the complexity of the form.  I simply adore how all the negative spaces between and within the triangles are triangles, which enhances the whole piece.

Mummy, you've done it again!  Brilliant, simple and complex all in one piece - utterly fabulous!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Pink Pinstripe Ruffle Cuff

As you may have realised from my blog and the work it contains, I seem to be drawn to the bigger statement pieces of jewellery rather than intense embellishment.  I love clean forms and shapes that shouldn't be possible in beadweaving. 

There is so much inspiration going on at the moment thanks to the amazing Jean Power.  Her work inspired the magnificent Kate McKinnon which in turn inspired a whole group of beaders who came up with Contemporary Geometric Beadwork (and the Facebook page).  This book will be utterly immense and I can't wait to see the paper copy as well as watching the subsequent evolving eBook.  That's right, they're releasing an evolving eBook!  Talk about bucking the trend! 

Anyways, I was looking through the beautiful pieces that have been submitted by the beading community on the Facebook page and was hit by the beauty of Kate McKinnon's Horned Melon Cuff (have a look through the photos, you'll find it!) and this is what I was inspired to create:
 I started with the incredibly elegant Modified Right Angle Weave (if you buy The Book then you get access to lots of pre-order goodies, including how the MRAW works - it is genius!) and a pile of Purple Iris Delicas (DB004) with a smattering of Silver Lined Fuchsia Delicas (DB1340) and set to work!  This cuff evolved as I was making it - the amount of beads I had and the feel I was getting dictated how it would turn out, rather than having a complete design in my head before I picked up my needle.

This is the view from the top.

In reality (rather than a pretty rubbish photo taken with my ancient BlackBerry!) the Purple Iris delicas sparkle and shine in an oil spill of purples and greens, darkening the Silver Lined Fuchsia from a girly Barbie pink to quite a dangerous, almost violent pink.

Here you can see the depth of the cuff.

So there you have it, a cuff that is nothing like I have ever made before, but now has me absolutely brimming with ideas for horns and wings and oh so much more!  Go pre-order both Jean Power's Geometric Beadwork Book AND Kate McKinnon's Contemporary Geometric Beadwork - the books will flow pretty seamlessly I imagine because Jean is the keystone to the community effort curated by Kate.  I can't wait to get mine!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Circle Starburst

I'll be moving house soon so I thought I'd have a bit of a sort through of all my patterns and my beading stash.  I'm off work at the moment with an ear infection (not so much fun when you're deaf!) so now is the perfect time to have a root through and see what I've got.

A long time ago I bought the pattern for the Circle Starburst by the amazing Cindy Holsclaw.  I bought some 6mm Swarovski pendants to make it and then promptly forgot all about it, filing the pattern and stashing the crystals! 

I thought I'd pick up a needle and thread and start making it.  The pattern is pretty simple and if you've made a beaded bead using the Bead Infinitum's Infinity Weave then you're on to a winner!  However, if you're not used to following 3D patterns presented on a 2D plane then get something a lot simpler!  This isn't really a pattern for a beginner.

Here is the beaded bead with wide open spaces.  Quite honestly, I wish I'd had a black support bead because I think this looks lovely!

This is the beaded bead from the triple crystal view:

 All finished, from the five crystal view:

Admittedly, I did simplify the pattern.  In the actual pattern the seed beads come up in small volcano type shapes in between the pendants but I felt that they hid the beautiful Swarovski crystal too much for my taste.  I took off all the volcanoes and adapted the pattern so that the pendants really stick out of the seed bead base.  It makes it look a lot more spiky and a bit more vicious, but that's what I like in jewellery anyways!

To hang it on the silver neck wire, I simply popped an eye pin through the beaded bead, trimmed and turned a loop.

Close up of the beaded bead on the neck wire:

In all, it's quite a nifty little beaded bead that could be used as a base for lots of different variations.  Make sure you have lots of finer needles to hand though - I got through three needles because you have to get into some quite tight spaces!  I think the price is a little steep for what you get - $36 which equates to roughly £22...   But it is pretty.

Hope you like it!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Paula's Chakra Necklace

So I took a small break from beading after the momentous piece that is the Heroine Necklace to let my fingers recover and my hands stop being claws!

I was commissioned to make a Chakra Necklace from Rob to Paula, Xander's masseuse.  Xander has been going to see her every other week for the past couple of years and her massage is amazing.  She is absolutely astounding and specialises in soothing massage for kids with all sorts of disabilities, not just autism.  Her patience is amazing and Xander sleeps brilliantly after each session.  Over the years we've become friends and often have dinner together.  Rob decided he wanted something beautiful for her birthday and asked me to make a piece that I would not make again so that it was completely unique to Paula.  He wanted to incorporate chakra colours so that it had meaning for her and the base colour to be a muted copper or bronze.

This is what I came up with:
I used 12mm Swarovski rivolis in Siam, Padparadscha, Sahara, Emerald, Sapphire, Heliotrope and Tanzanite and set them using 3mm bronze firepolished rounds, bronze 15s and Matte Metallic Dark Bronze delicas, adapting a technique used by Sabine Lippert in her book Beaded Fantasies.

Here you can see a close up of the stones and their settings:

In this photo you can see the reverse of the rivolis and just about make out Sabine's very clever way of bezelling so that the stones are safe in their little cocoons but the front shows as much of the colour and sparkle as possible.  The bezels look pretty and show off much more of the stone than the usual peyote bezel that I use and are blooming quick to make - most of the time!  Getting the stone to sit in and close the netted back up is quite fiddly, especially seeing as the netted flaps want to leap open when adding the row of 15s round the centre!  I'm pretty certain that this is more to do with my tension rather than the design - I'm a very tight beadweaver and like to keep everything quite stiff so that I know nothing will slip out!

As I was making the herringbone rope I decided that it looked really odd with both sides plain herringbone so every 20 rows I inserted a couple of the 3mm firepolished rounds with a couple of the 15s either side but only on one side.  I think this slight alteration in the rope gave the necklace a little more balance than if it had been plain both sides.
The side with the stones is completely plain and just a simple 4-bead herringbone rope.

Rob's coming to pick it up today and I really hope Paula likes it when she opens it on Tuesday.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Contemporary Geometric Beadwork

Well goodness me!  You may remember my Pyramids Cuff, well it will soon be published in Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, a book by Kate McKinnon inspired by the ever wonderful Jean Power!!  I'm absolutely chuffed to bits.  An actual something I made PUBLISHED!!! 

Not only that, Jean has her very own book coming out as well soon based on her beading career!  I may just faint with excitement!

I cannot wait to hold both these books in my hands and pore over all the wondrousness that they will contain.  

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Heroine Necklace

So all summer I have been working on Jean Power's amazing Heroine Necklace.  The pattern came out in the August/September issue of Beadwork Magazine and as soon as I saw it I fell utterly in love with it and knew I needed to make one for myself!

Here is my attempt:

 The triangle chain was so easy to do - repetitive but easy!  The clasp is a rather remarkable design that is fully reversible so that you can have two totally different looks in one necklace.  On this side I found a gorgeous vintage German pressed glass cabochon that had triangular facets which I just loved as it echoed the triangle link chain.

Here's a close up of the chain:

On the other side of the clasp, I decided to use a titanium coated agate druzy.  I wanted something that looked really industrial but organic and thus completely at odds but in harmony with the rigidity of the steel triangles.  I think it works! 

Side view:

The colour of the druzy really lightens the steel in comparison with the black glass cab.

In all, this has been a mammoth project, and definitely not a hill I'll be scaling anytime soon again!  All the effort, and 100g of steel delicas is definitely worth it though as I think it looks amazing.  Jean made such a clever clasp and the fact that you can wear it without the clasp and tie it together with ribbon just adds to the versatility.  I love this necklace and thanks to Jean for such an amazing pattern!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Key To My Heart by Jean Power

The rather marvellous Jean Power recently released a pattern called Key To My Heart and Mummy and I immediately adored it so we decided to set ourselves a little challenge.  We would both bead it together and see how differently we interpreted the uses for these gorgeous little trinkets.

We'll see Mummy's use first:

Mummy chose to make a rather delicious necklace using both keys and the padlock as a centre piece.  As you can see, she used her favourite blue for the detail colours and it looks rather fabulous!

Here's a close up of the centre piece with both keys on the simple peyote chain - she wanted the keys and the padlock to really stand out with this and she has definitely achieved that.

Mummy chose to have the keys come off if she wanted something a little bit simpler.  I love this with the padlock alone because it looks so Sid Vicious!!!  This is how I'd wear it :) 

This is what she said about the pattern and how she got on with it:

"Hello dear, doing my duty for you... The keys were very easy to make, the instructions were very clear.  I also made one more with peyote and less brick and, though I think it looks nicer, it is not as robust.

The padlock I found more difficult for some reason... It wasn't until I had made it/remade it for the 4th time that I really felt comfortable about the shaping - as you said, I was probably over analysing it with my mathematical brain - possibly if the diagrams had shown how the shape began to form I might have found it easier (being a visual learner!).  Once I was comfy with it, it was no problem.  I think I also changed the beads I used to more delicas than in the pattern but I can't remember - you've got it Cate, so you can look!"

This is how I used them:

As you can see, I decided on a much darker colour choice - I love gunmetal and red, the black beads helped to darken the Swarovski rivoli from the much brighter red that you can see in this blog post, taking it to a much bloodier red. 

I also thought that the components really lent themselves to be a fabulous pair of same-but-not-the-same earrings.  I never wear earrings that match - I even have one piercing in my left ear and six in my right ear because I dislike matching so much!  For me, odd but paired earrings really work, and Jean's fabulous pattern was a simple but effective way to make them.

As for interpreting the pattern, I found that a breeze.  Where Mummy had issues with making the padlock, I had none.  This is probably because I just sit back and put my brain in neutral when beading up a pattern and trust implicitly that all the steps are correct and the design will suddenly emerge in the way the designer wanted!  Mummy, on the other hand, is a much more inquisitive beader, analysing every step and second-guessing all the missed stitches and additional stitches and seeing how the designer created the form. 

In the end, the padlock took me one evening and the key took another evening so they were pretty quick makes. 

What makes this pattern such a bargain (seriously, a measly six squiddlies - or £6 if you don't work in squiddlies!) is the fact that the components are so versatile.  I immediately though of mismatched earrings, Mummy wanted a necklace that could be worn three ways.  There are loads of other things you could so with these pieces - what about beading a load of them and adding them to fat chunky chain to make a superbly chunky charm bracelet?  Changing the rivoli sizes and making a hugely oversized key pendant on a long necklace?  Turning the rivoli key on the horizontal, adding a peyote shank and making a bling ring? Having a deliciously long lariat end in a padlock on one end and a key on the other?  Seriously, the list is endless!  Go get this pattern!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Antidote to all that gold!!!

After making the Gold Lariat of my previous post I decided I needed a quick make that was more my taste!  When Mummy and I visited the Beadworker's Guild Bead Bazaar a few weeks ago, I fell in love with this Swarovski Montana Blue Fancy Oval which I bought from the JBS Beads stand (unfortunately the stone isn't listed on her website yet which is why the first link takes you to Fire Mountain Gems).  JBS Beads are based literally 10 minutes from me in Thurmaston and although she is a mail/internet order company she often hosts excellent evening shopping parties in her home where you can go along and be made very welcome with a lovely cup of tea or a glass of something else poured by her husband and feel utterly free to have a wander through her ground floor looking at and buying her full range.  And it does take over the full ground floor of her house!  She's very welcoming and my goodness it's best to take cash because cards can get taken to their very limit if you're not careful!

Anyway, I saw the stone and knew I needed it!  I also saw these gorgeous Nickel plated steel coloured delicas (DB21) and thought they would go brilliantly.  I hunted high and low for the same finish delicas in 15 but could only find Steel hex-cut from G J Beads so I decided to take the plunge and bought them.  I'm really glad I did as well because the cut on the hex really sparkles and gives it some life!

As always I head towards the simple, rather than embellishing and made a bit of a bling ring.  I kind of love it but have to be careful wearing it when I'm driving because it really sparkles in the sunshine and can dazzle - it's definitely safer not to wear it if it's sunny out!

Here's the ring I made, it's not a brilliant picture as it was taken on my phone in the kitchen at dusk (it's the only place there was any natural light left)!

And here it is on my finger!  It's definitely a statement ring, if only for the size!

Golden lariat

So I've clearly not been around much over the past month.  I've been quite busy and haven't been able to bead as much as I'd like, mainly because I had to go into hospital to have two of my wisdom teeth out.  Quite frankly the break was lovely and it was absolutely delicious to have a few hours of down time in the hospital!  Luckily they did it as a day patient and under general anaesthetic so I mainly spent the morning reading a book and chilling out and then the afternoon asleep!  Hurrah!  Mummy was an absolute star and looked after Xander, but because I was quite pants and sleepy afterwards, he was a little unsettled - autistic kids and their rigid routines eh?!  Daddy also bought me ice cream and that was fantastic! 

Anyways, I recently had a commission from a lady at Mummy's work to make a long lariat in gold  That's the only brief I had - that it was a lariat and that it was gold!  I immediately thought of Gustav Klimt and his skilled use of gold, especially in his portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer and the Tree Of Life (which incidentally, I have a print of in my hallway!).  I knew that there was no way I could replicate his panache in a lariat so I decided to go back to the basics and try and use his mosaic aspect of different hues of gold.

This is the result:

In this close-up you can see how many shades of gold I used.  I think I must have used pretty much every hue and finish of gold seed bead there is!

And at the bottom of the lariat, to give it some weight, I used lots of gold and amber glass beads with some goldstone thrown in as well to give it some sparkle.

Unfortunately, I'm not a major fan of gold.  I don't really know why but it just doesn't feel as comfortable for me.  I much prefer the coolness and understatement of silvers and steels, gold just feels too blingy to me!  So there you have it, not my favourite piece by a long way but I understand the lady who wanted it was thrilled to bits with it.