Wednesday, 27 February 2013

bauble zeitgeist?

Estelle variation
The Estelle workshop is proving very popular, it's fun and easy,  and works up into prettiness in all sorts of variations. it is also a proving to be a fun class to explore colour and sparkly mixtures.
I'll carry on teaching it over the next year as requests keep coming in. In one class, we had a long discussion about math and beads, so I decided to tweek the basic bezel and work up some examples of how it can be used to make three dimensional forms.
In the next class, I shared the discussion and showed the baubles which were the result of my experiments. I had several requests to offer it as a follow up class.
This is always a lovely thing about teaching, to have students wanting to explore an idea some more, and to have more on tap to offer their enthusiasm.

I was just about to show and share on my facebook page... finger hovering on the upload button, when I noticed a very similar bauble being shown off proudly as a latest creation. The math determines there can be only so many ways to make a ball shape with bezelled stones; indeedy, a quick pootle round the facebook beading community revealed at least four more... so no show and share for me then!  I'll keep mine within the boundaries of my class as an interesting discussion point.

Estelle baubles
This got me thinking about how design ideas so often emerge en masse. There are the obvious ones, like everyone playing with a new bead shape (spikes or Rizo's anyone?). There are also more subtle ones and they can be profoundly frustrating!
I've more than once worked long and hard on a really exciting new idea, only to consign it to the 'Doh! can't use that now' folder.
And, yes in the pursuit of honesty, I do sometimes see designs that make me wince at their similarity to work I've already published.

That we get excited by the same processes with similar results is, I guess, inevitable. That we all fall in love with the latest colours, finishes or shapes of beads, likewise. We're also all working under the same powerful but subtle influences of media, trends, fashions and styling, even more so now, with a whole worlds worth available at the touch of a button, and arriving daily in the in-box.

For me, it's about searching out ways to have a genuinely authentic voice, and coincidences like these, I take as a gentle reminder to try again and find something new and fresh to say.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Pretty flowers


I've had a little spare time recently, just enough to play some more with Rizo beads and complete the Prettyfleur pattern for print or download. I've also noticed that I seem to blog as much about ceramics as I do about beads. There is a correlation between the two I guess, with gorgeous glazes and tactile qualities, but the truth of it is that I just love me old china!
Prettyfleur is no exception in that the inspiration came from the pattern on these Staffordshire plates. These have lived on my desk since forever, because the vintage bouquet in the centre is just lovely. I can't tell you anything about this china except that it appears in small yet very tempting lots on ebay occasionally and has no name, simply the number F14753.
Jurassica to brighten a dull day
Like my ceramics, the Rizo collection grows, as more bead colours arrive; there are up to 93 to choose from so far! not that I have even a fraction of this amount, but have still managed to fall in love with more than I'll honestly have time to sit and bead with, but still lovely to gaze upon.
I did have time to make myself a Jurassica bracelet, in greenish mustard and turquoise, to go with an unseasonably cheery turquoise jumper which I'm wearing with a bright peachy orange scarf.... a colour combination recommended to keep the spirits up in these freezing and wintery february days.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Love Hearts and Dolly Mixtures

sugar candy still life
I was rather taken by these endearing little Lustre glazed pots which were on a bargain shelf in a china store. Then I thought it would be fun to play around and create something soft and pretty for a change. Dolly mixtures, for those of you who may not have skipped along english pavements to the corner shop for sweeties on pocket money day... are little and very sugary candy, ideal for any tea parties where teddy bears are on the guest list.
It was a lovely antidote to a very grey wintery day, although sadly the sugar rush was tooooo much!

I chose Delica beads based on the colours in my still life picture, and decided this would be a good starting point to see if I can keep my self imposed 'Can you fit it on a postcard' challenge going. I am having so much fun playing with this idea, I'm hoping I can come up with one each month with a little cough to cover up the lack of one in January. Where did January go?

Valentine charms to go... or keep
So after a few evenings of fiddling around I settled on a very simple heart shape, worked in square stitch, and given just a hint of grown up charm with antique copper findings. Those lovely copper crystals are a total fraud... they are really made of plastic and rescued from a broken bracelet, now given a new life.
I'll be giving these away for birthdays and thank you presents for sure. But I have the green one swinging from my mobile phone, how cute am I?!!
So the pattern is available as a printed postcard, or as a one page download PDF.
All the patterns in this postcard series are rights free,
I explain why here, and your response has been so lovely I'll keep the idea going.
Please feel free and welcome to make them to sell to fundraise, and I'll continue donating profits to my charity of choice. Plus, please let me know if you do have a beady get together, or a sales table, and I'll share your success stories, plus my donations tally, here so everyone can feel the love and be inspired.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Winterfleur brooch

magical magnification in a quiet corner
Like all design ideas, this one has several starting points. The first was an element of the piece I made for the Battle of the Beadsmith on line 'competition'. The brooch had a scorpion, about to eat a butterfly, and a segment of dried flower petals to represent the arid places that are the natural habitat for scorpions... and to deal with the mechanism of the brooch.

There are moments when light, time and surroundings give us a gift. This was the case when I went to visit the American Museum at Bath just before Christmas. It is a winter treat that I look forward to, the staff decorate the various rooms, in keeping with their period. It is  a lovely way to spend a winter afternoon and I usually come away having been gently inspired.
This time, it was by a collection of paintings of the dark interiors of Winterthur house, begun in 2012 by the British artist Michael John Hunt. Winterthur is an estate, nestling in the rolling hills of the Brandywine River Valley of Northern Delaware. The mansion has 175 rooms filled with thousands of objects made and used in America between 1640 and 1860. 
Hunt's paintings are exquisite studies, you can just feel those timeless rooms on a winter day, your eye picking out treasures as you wander from painting to painting. It is a magical way to view his work in the setting of the museum here in England.

Winterfleur on my Susan Holton scarf
The experience set off a trickle of thoughts about time, stillness, dust motes in the winter air. About how museums take ordinary every day objects and consign them to a frozen in time still life. Polished, cherished and used as a magnifier of a bygone era.
I loved the sober, soft and timeless colours in the paintings too, I loved the way the paintings perfectly reflected the polished wood stillness of the museum I was walking around. Like a magnifying glass to focus the eye. Who knows how the mind connects such disparate dots to bring ideas together, but once home, out came the beads, some clear glass cabochons and the Winterfleur brooch grew in my hands.
It makes me happy to wear it on the knitted scarves and collars I am swathed in throughout winter.

I have the pattern for Winterfleur in the shop at last as a pdf download, a printed pattern or as a kit in three muted but hopefully desirable colourways.

Winterfleur in
Ginger silk top left, Blue Violet top right
and Linden bronze bottom centre
Don't you just love the 1970's china!
and Rosemary from the garden