Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Beaded cross

The catwalks are bristling with crucifixes, and it's hard to find a t-shirt without a sparkly metallic cross printed or marked out in studs on it. This fashion, where does it come from? If you google the question, there is a hot debate about fashionistas adopting an overtly christian symbol. Even the Vatican got involved when Mr Beckham was seen sporting a rosary in a high end photo shoot.
Some argue that it's a social commentary against secularism, some that it all began with a band called Justice...
As you know, I like to have a design series on the go,  Symbols and Trinkets, is proving hugely enjoyable, delving into the art history books and jewellery collections in museums for inspiration.
In the  jewellery room at the Victoria and Albert Museum, there are breathtaking examples of crosses, which is where I found the inspiration for this one.
a beaded Cross
I spent my school years surrounded by ornate and beautiful religious architecture and symbolism; also by joyfully strong minded, humorous women who chose to devote their lives to faith.They taught me that, to be really good at something was not the point, to continue trying to be better at something was the honest devotion.
I'm inspired by the way an object can tell a story about an era or a culture and in so doing, be instantly recognisable as from that time or place. How everything we wear has a story or meaning, both personal and cultural. for me this is a fascinating language to explore.
The cross I've designed to fit with my other symbol pieces is indeed following a fashion trend, if you choose to view it that way.
But it also has considered layers of meaning; Moving elements inspired by worry beads and prayer wheels, a central thorny crown, but also inspired by meditation mandalas. It features caged pearls like the jewelled buttons on a reliquary I saw during my visit to Germany earlier in the year, but also because they are the oldest symbol of purity in folklore and mythology. As always in this series, there is a secret place to hide a snippet of paper for a prayer, wish or affirmation, This idea is inspired by personal talisman pieces, perhaps containing a scrap of sainted bone, cloth or an item blessed at a place of pilgrimage. The tiny Tibetan silver prayer boxes given to children and worn through their lives, containing a prayer unique and auspicious to the individual. or medicine pouches filled with herbs and crystals, brought together to protect the wearer.

Friday, 12 April 2013


Unlike the serendipity of the perfect crystals materialising at just the right time, Ambrosina has turned a seat of the pants roller coaster ride! Ambrosina means 'immortal' in Greek and is the name of both a bulbous fleshy plant and some divine Christian Louboutin shoes.
I'll be teaching this class at Beader's Best in Hamburg and in the Uk in Dorset too.... but before that, I'm teaching it at the beginning of May for the Beadworker's Guild. Sourcing just the right supplies can be a tense and nerve wracking business! Mostly in this case, because the first Ambrosina necklace samples were made in the depth of winter. This lovely journal,  covered in vintage silks was my colour inspiration. But, and this will be oooh so familiar to some folk out there, I used some dark bronze colour findings from my stash that I felt sure were widely available, without checking to see if they were.
The design uses my favourite technique of netting with a few tweeks and lavish ribs of embellishments with crystals, so far so good, but it also uses over size end caps and a weeny bit of wire work.
I have spent many hours and visits to suppliers in search of a lovely alternative, and was about to despair! Until I finally found a source of gorgeously patterned, silver end caps... the order is due to arrive tomorrow...
Inspired by antique silks,
Winter coloured Ambrosina necklaces
So I have been consoling myself with creating some truly summery colour mixes to work as the final samples... which of course, meant ordering yet more beads to get it 'just right'... these will hopefully also arrive tomorrow, leaving me a weekend to bead up a frenzy and finally be satisfied with my samples for these particular classes.
It's such fun choosing colours, I'll be offering...
'Lime in-da coconut' ivory, silver and the zingiest lime.
'Earth Angel' soft cream, bronze, silver and sand opal crystals.
'Indigo Dream', navy blue, pewter and violet Ab crystals.
'Mint Julep', Turquoise and silver with mint alabaster crystals, this is going to be interesting as the opaque crystals are a new adventure for me, but not everyone wants to glitter and sparkle!
so like the sand opal crystals this is a softer option.
I'll post the pictures when I'm done beading!
If you feel tempted already... click on the links to find the booking pages for the classes.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Jezebel's Jewels

Sometimes serendipitous things happen just when you need them to, not often, but so fab when they do. I was just beginning to sort out my Jezebel's jewels class for later this year. I'll be teaching it in August at Beader's Best in Hamburg, and in the Dorset in the UK in November. Click the link to come join in the class!
Because... Squeeee... one of those dreamed of stashes of treasure has found me.  With perfect timing an email arrived in my in-box asking if I'd be interested in taking a peek into many boxes of crystals and beads, the remaining stock of a now closed costume jewellery business. I've had a tiny glimpse, and I'm itching to go visit, which I'll be doing later this month.
Jezebel's jewels is a design I've wanted to share for ages, with two different beady bezels for gleaming crystal stones and a versatile link, they can be joined together into a huge range of combinations. Anything from demure pendants, simple sparkly band bracelets or cute three dimensional crystal encrusted beads, to drama queen cuffs, lavish crucifixes and beyond. I'm so excited to see what my students will come up with... and now I'll be able to supply a divine hoard of crystal stones for them to dip into.
Cuff and pendant in aqua's and greens
Jezebel's jewels began with a sketch I made. I saw a truly elegant lady wearing a stunning brooch on a velvet scarf while we sat opposite each other on a train journey.
The brooch was made of wonderfully ridged and knobbly metal, studded with emerald and scarlet crystals. Maybe it was a priceless heirloom!
It kind of got linked in my mind with a game we used to play with coloured paper shapes, moving them around to make patterns.
So Jezebel's jewels slowly emerged from the little sketch and notes, and is now is a colourful jigsaw for beaders.
I'll post pictures of my new samples, once the vintage crystals arrive and I've had time to do the beading.
Meanwhile, if you want to come join the fun, book soon, spaces are filling up fast!