Saturday, March 9, 2019

Bead Embroidered Necklace - Making Progress

Bead embroidery is one of my loves - it's easy to incorporate it into smaller pieces like here and here and here.

But now and then it's time to take a deep breath and dive into something a little more extreme. Something that will take some serious time and planning. Something that will give you a good excuse to stay indoors when the weather outside is colder than Antarctica. (I wish I was exaggerating.)

So here is my latest big project, shown through a series of progress shots. It's not finished yet, but stay tuned!

Gathering the potential material
The gemstone pieces were the inspiration for the piece.
Everything else grew from them.

This is the first time I've actually sketched out the plan for a piece before diving in.
I've been doing this for twenty years. I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner.
Transferred to the backing and gemstones glued in place.
A little progress
Here's today's starting place

The needle's threaded and I'm ready to get moving today - stay tuned for the next progress update!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

From the UFO Pile, or The Virtue of Letting an Idea Marinate

As part of my dive back into creating, I searched through my (extensive!) unfinished objects collection and found a pile of peyote tubes. I had made them as an experiment in making the same beaded bead using different bead sizes, but never got around to constructing a final product.

The original idea was to line the ones of the same colorways vertically side by side and string them together to create a graduated pendant. What I discovered is that the tension I used when weaving them left too little room between the beads to weave through with any kind of substantial stringing material.

I could have put them on headpins with a stopper bead with a loop on top and string them onto a cord lengthwise, but that wasn't the look I was hoping for.

So they sat. And I pondered. I let the idea marinate for a good long while.

Finally, I decided to weave them together horizontally.

They're strung on waxed cotton cord with another peyote tube to adjust the length. The final red one is just the cotton cording woven to hold the beads in place.

The result is a set of nice lightweight necklaces with adjustable length and a few less UFOs on the pile!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Rediscovering My Voice

Y'all. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, my plans to blog more regularly over the past year has resulted in a lovely six-lane parkway to The Bad Place (extra points if you start calling me Eleanor). 

The creative urge? It has been colder than Lake Michigan during the polar vortex for the past sixteen months or so. But I finally picked up the beads and the needle and have jumped back into it. And it feels GOOD.

To start, I tackled a few UFOs, and repaired a few things that went awry in the past. Here's a Cellini spiral that lived as a lonely, spiky tube for a long time. It is a generous 3" long, so it didn't need much to finish, nor did it need any embellishment. I strung it simply on some onyx rounds and added one of my fabricated clasps in copper.

This next necklace is a repair - the lampwork bead, crackle quartz and smoky quartz were in another necklace. Until the necklace was dropped at a show and a couple of the raised clear drops on the lampwork broke off. (Insert silent scream here.) 

The missing drops were along one end, so I made a peyote cap to hide the injury. I added a beaded bead and some silver filigree beads. Fitting the peyote over the injured section was extremely fiddly, but I am persistent (read: stubborn). 

Friends, it feels really good to be back at it. I'm a happier person when I have my creative time - I'm sure everyone reading this experiences the same thing. So I am committing to being better about listening to the muse, and I hope (hope, hope) to keep up with the blog as well. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Beady Holiday

It's been a nutty six months. Seriously crazy. Upheaval at work, family job changes, losses of loved ones, moves - all said, not a lot of time or brain space to be creative in the bead room.

So when I had the day off yesterday for the 4th, I was determined - determined!! - to spend some time at the work table. Rather than jumping into a new project (there's one of those on the horizon, which I'll share in a couple of days), I completed a few simple necklaces that I'd strung up months ago. Several of them were ways to use up some beads that I'd had in my stash forever. Easy peasy, but I needed to make clasps and finish them all off.

This one has faceted carnelian (pretty big - about 12mm), amethyst and sterling. I am obsessed with the luscious richness of these two gemstones together.

This too a little extra planning and fiddling, to figure out how to incorporate the copper filigrees into a knotted necklace. With the rhyolite marquis and green jasper rounds, I'm pleased with the result.

Czech glass beads - clear with white cores swirled with black and gold stringers - paired with faceted clear beads with gold cores and onyx rounds. Nice and long to slip over your head without a clasp.

About as simple as it gets - a dichroic pendant that's been at the back of the bead drawers so long it's probably eligible for a driver's license. Hard to see here, but it's a lovely deep purple with a flash of dichro blue at the top edge. A couple of coordinating beads, chain and a sterling clasp. Done.

Again with the substantially sized beads - this time with gorgeous black fire agate, faceted and nestled into pewter end caps with onyx and glass spacers. It looks so elegant.

One of my favorite gemstones, flourite, kept simple with Bali sterling so that the variety of the gemstone colors is the focus of attention.

Mavis Smith may have been one of the first lampwork artists I ever purchased art beads from. Here's a focal of hers that I've been hoarding for way too long.

Aah, a vacation day, cooking out and fireworks, and some completed UFOs. A good day all around!
So what did you do for the 4th?

Monday, May 1, 2017

The UFO -- Completed!

It's every beader's dirty little secret - that stack of half-finished, reconsidered, abandoned, incomplete, wrongly-turned projects that lie, lonely and unfinished, in the bead room. Our own stash of UFOs - unfinished objects.

Karen Williams, in her wise and encouraging way, brought together a group of beaders to dig into their UFO pile with the mission of finishing one or more of them. Karen's great at giving me a kick in the creative pants, so I had to jump in. Read all the way down, because this one took several turns along the way...

Several years ago, I wanted to build a necklace around a lovely abalone cabochon.

 The original vision was for one side of the necklace to be a Cellini spiral, with the other side a multi-strand collection of pearls. The Cellini spiral turned out great, but I couldn't get the multi-strand part of lay correctly, no matter how many times I tried.

It wasn't ugly, but it certainly wasn't right. In fact, it was so not right, I never took a picture of it. Just took the pearls off and put it aside into the UFO pile.

Until Karen's nudge. There weren't enough of the seed beads I used in the spiral to make a matching side, so that option was off the table. I decided to try the pearl idea again, this time in a braid or other structured format.

But again, it didn't work. This is that version, but this is not the final result of the challenge:

Yeah, again not right. So far from what I had in my imagination.

So what to do? I took a deep breath, picked up a pair of sharp scissors, and cut that spiral in half.


The resulting halves were too short to be a necklace, so I had to finish them off and add a couple of purple jade and sterling silver beads to make a necklace that I could wear without choking. The final version, while not what I had originally imagined, is wearable, satisfying, and most importantly, complete.

Whew! Thanks, Karen, for providing the motivation and the accountability. Now, go check out what some of my beady buddies have finished from their own UFO collection:

Karen Williams, Baublicious
Francie Broadie,  FAB
Christine Van Dyke Altmiller, One Kiss Creations
Kim Dworak, CianciBlue
Liz Hart, Treetop Life
Amy Severino, Amy Beads
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
Christi Carter, Sweetpea Path
Bobbie Rafferty, Beadsong Jewelry
Margo Lynn Hablutzel, My World and It's Full of Books

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

UFO Spotting

They're every beader's dirty little secret.

No, not the piles of beads that occupy every nook, cranny, and closet in the house.

Not the urge to buy every color of the newest shaped bead. That's not a secret. But it does create the issue mentioned above.

The universal problem is the UnFinished Object. The project that started out great and either hit a creative wall, got run over by the time demands of daily life, or just petered out somewhere along the way.

Karen Williams, the creative genius behind Skunk Hill Studios and Baublicious, put together a blog hop specifically to encourage people to finish and share those UFOs that are lurking in their studios. I dithered a bit and missed the sign up for the first one (dithering may lead to some of my UFOs...). But she's doing it again!!

On May 1, we'll reveal how we've completed one (or more) UFOs.  Here's a sneak peek of what I've got in line to finish. If I manage to get it done early enough, I'll work on one of the other three thousand few UFOs I've got laying around.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Loving The Details

If you're looking for the 
Bead Soup Bead Hoarder's Hop reveal, 
go HERE!

One of the things I love most about making jewelry (and one of the things that can be the most frustrating) is how a small change can make a huge difference.

Move this bead from *here* to *there* and a clunky design suddenly looks perfect. Change the color of a seed bead you're using and the design pops.

So, I try to appreciate visual details and figure out how they enhance the things that they decorate. Over the past few days when the weather has warmed up enough to walk outside without turning into a popsicle, I've played hometown tourist, ignoring the stares of those around me when I whip out my camera to take pictures of some of the details I've encountered.

Coming from a meeting in an 1891 building, I found a well-worn doorplate:

In that same building, an intricate tile floor - imagine how much time and care it took to place each mosaic tile! The tiles themselves are less than a half-inch each. Even as a seed beader, this level of intricacy boggles my mind.

And walking home from the train, I noticed two beautiful bronze ornaments on the exterior of another building, this one built around 1930 - the pictures are just details of much larger decorations: 

The building would have looked perfectly fine without them, but I imagine the architect and his team deciding that they needed these extra touches to make their building a truly special addition to the city. And I appreciate the artists' vision and craftsmanship.

So, are you a detail spotter like me? What's one of your favorite discoveries around your town?