Friday, 30 August 2013

Bead crochet

My first ever Crochet rope
with 4mm cube beads
One of my highlights for any trip to Germany is to hook up with bead artist and queen of crochet Brigitte Ilander
Her work is so utterly deliciously coloured it is tempting to buy her kits just to own those colour combinations. The detail in her patterned ropes worked in size 15 seed bead is breathtakingly intricate too.
A couple of years ago I was in despair of ever mastering bead crochet, despite some lovely lessons from a student, many tried and failed false starts. I so wanted to be able to stitch one of Brigitte's kits!
The Lime Zest rope
work in progress
My german friends challenged me to go learn before my next visit. Happily for me, bead artist and dear friend Gillian Lamb welcomed me into her class, Bead crochet for beginners, total numpties like me, welcome. Thanks to her 'can do' approach, and a devilishly clever way to get started... with nice big beads... I finally got the knack.
Next came a rope all by myself is size 8 seed beads. I love this technique for it's ease of transportation, and my rope grew steadily on long haul flights to and from the USA. It grew and grew into a lariat of slinkiness!
Beady tassels and cute ceramic beads
to decorate the ends of my rope
Whilst there, I shopped for accent beads and chose this cute ceramic bird and flower beads set from Melanie Brooks at Earthenwood Studios.
I'm a beader at heart, so I couldn't resist finessing my triumphant first piece with a couple of beaded tassels. It's fun to wear, as the crochet rope is strong, but flexible enough to tie into cute knots.
So, when I met with Brigitte in Hamburg last week, she was hugely encouraging and agreed that I am now ready to graduate to size 11 seed beads, to try a pattern and a smaller hook. Once my second size 8 rope is done, I will be stringing up my 'Simply Red' kit and hope to have it finished to show her on my next visit.
I love that my friends were so encouraging, I'd all but accepted that this technique was not ever going to be a happy one for me, so thank you Brigitte and Gillian for pushing me to try again!
Oh, and I've had lots of requests for the pattern for those tassels, so I'll write it up soon.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Bead shows are the best

So here I am, absolutely tired from three days of intensive beadiness, teaching, chatting, hugging and admiring all the stunning creations. Now I'm recovering from the Beaders Best show. I thought it would be nice to share how it feels to be part of a big event...
I shopped, for unusual beads, rare charlottes and vintage beads, delicious cabochons and, of course, the seed beads to match them.
I talked, pretty much non stop, with so many friends to catch up with and so many new people to get to know. It is also our opportunity to talk to the vendors, see new bead shapes, pick up the trends that are emerging and make notes for new designs.
For a little while there I was book signing, as my beloved Albion Stitch books have now been published as a beautiful volume in German, which was launched at the show... here is where you can buy the book. The English versions are here. This was a real personal landmark moment!
I loved every minute of my teaching days, my students were all brilliant so it was a genuine treat to spend time in their company. My two translators did a fantastic job of not only sharing my thoughts and ideas, but my slightly dodgy humour too, thanks you Barbara and Elina.
So, behind the scenes as a visiting tutor we start early, with classes starting at 8.30 we gather at the venue at 7.45. There is just time to secure a coffee and set up the classroom, then it is full on until the show closes. One lovely highlight at this show is the model walk. Each day at 12.30 beautiful models walk through the show wearing beadwork; competition entries and pieces by the artists present, either as tutors or with a booth selling their kits and patterns. It is an event and a pageant; it is also a validation that those awesome creations you see in photographs, really work as adornment.
After the show has closed for the day, a different kind of fun begins as everyone gathers for supper...
When I look back at the conversations over supper tables shared by artists from the UK, Russian, Germany, France, Italy, the USA, Sweden and more; it is with that luxurious feeling of having the opportunity to share the stories of our creativity. This little world brought together for a few evenings is not one in which jealous rivalry has a place. Each artist is on a personal journey of creativity, loving every minute of it, proud of their own work and delighted to honour each others achievements.
So these after show suppers are a blissful indulgence, a source of fuel too, discovering so many new points of view. We come away inspired to keep on taking creative risks, then sharing the successes. Talking of fuel, the evenings are also full of laughter, outrageously bad jokes, lots of photographs and plenty of alcohol! and yes we do talk about things other than beads... a bit.
But you know, there is another element required to make a great show, at the best shows it is hidden and should go unnoticed by the visitors, and that is great organisation. Attention to the tiny details,  from the simple, like having signs right at the point where you look up wondering where something is, to hiring chairs that you really will be comfortable in all day as a student. A million little things, and staff on hand to smooth the procession of people and questions. The team at Perlen Poesie are, I hope, and deservedly so, pleased that all their  hard work resulted in a truly enjoyable event.

Friday, 9 August 2013

pay it forward

Little Owl bookmark
I've had the delightful honour to be included in a really simple but clever project.
Napolde at Fairy Pearls has invited an international roll call of beadwork designers to simply contribute images of their work.
These she converts into beautifully hand finished bookmarks complete with silky ribbon and colour matched beads... and the proceeds of the sales go to help a children's charity.
I love this kind of energy and the bookmarks are totally collectable!
It was great fun choosing pics for 'my' bookmarks, and even more fun browsing all the other gorgeous images. So much talent, colour and beauty gathered together and all for a for a worthy cause.
I'll definitely be buying some when I visit her stand at Beader's Best in Hamburg later this month.
You can find all the bookmarks for purchase here and settle in with a mug of tea as there are many to choose from. Or if you like my selection, just click on the link below each image to go to the page, Happy shopping!

Jezebel's Jewel bookmark
Beetle on embroidered leaf