Thursday, 24 September 2015

Old and new memory piece

When I started on this amazing beading adventure, the first ever beading book I owned and poured over was 'Beads, Make your own Jewellery' by Stefany Tomalin. It not only gave me my first lessons in knots and thread, but also a doorway into a world where Stefany lived, surrounded by beads and their history. Many moons later, and I will embarrass neither of us by revealing how many moons, I had the huge pleasure of meeting Stephany for the first time at a Bead Society event. It gave me pause to think about that younger self and how a first glimpse into the world of beads revealed my tribe to me. How I too now live surrounded by beads, enjoying the process of digging into the history of this amazing craft.
Stephany had recently been to Czechoslovakia and had a few treasures for sale, I bought some huge (3cm x 1cm) spike beads and resolved that I should do something with them. Here they are next to some regular old 17mm spikes.

A more recent memory was from earlier this year when I had great fun teaching at a beading retreat in Hilzingen, Germany. Andreina, one of the attendees, very kindly showed me the techniques with right angle weave and pinch beads that are hugely popular in Europe, because I fell instantly in love with a necklace she was wearing. With her consent I'll be sharing a few of my experiments in up coming workshops; which is why I was playing around with the techniques at the time that this particular design was happening.

Rummaging in my bead box I also came up with some ceramic spheres, these are sold in bags at garden centres, designed to be scattered in plant pots to hide the soil and keep in the moisture, and of course who could resist them in the perfect shade of turquoise?

Pinch beads are among one of the older established shapes of beads, much overlooked until recently, they've had something of a renaissance along side many of the new shapes of beads.

The whole mix was a soupy mess on my bead board for several weeks as I tried various combinations of components. This beadwork is quite chunky and as a result weighs some, so the final piece is a shortish necklace with an off set focal of bezelled spikes linked together with a bezelled gardeners ball. I don't know about you, but I find heavy jewellery irksome to wear, love how it looks, but not so much the headaches if I wear a heavy piece for too long. I've worn my new necklace a few times now and can report back that it behaves well on the neckline and definitely raises the odd eyebrow, which is a good thing, right?

But best of all it tells a story of my journeys and discoveries with beads and reminds me where I started. It speaks of how life and people move in circles that inevitably intersect. It's a design combination that shows how a little treasure from here and from there, will one day come together and become part of something else, and how sharing ideas is at the heart of beading, always.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Design anatomy

Sometimes it's just nice to sit and bead something just for me, sometimes it starts a chain of thought that I can use in class, other times not so much. The thing I wanted to bead most was a necklace using this beautiful stripy stone, a Zebra Stripe Agate, that I found way too tempting not to purchase at a bead show last year. It is in my favourite 'Sage smudge' green with striations of creamy white that glitter in the light when the stone is moved about. It had quite a big hole drilled in one end, which I thought I could cover up.
Although it was fun to do, quite a few evenings of beading and un-beading went into the final make up of the design, which I thought I'd share, just in case you feel like experimenting too.

First, I worked a bezel for the stone combining Peyote and Albion stitch, using colours picked out from the stone. I worked one side in matt beads and the other in a more translucent shiny bead. It became pretty clear that the hole wasn't going to be hidden by the beading, and I wanted to keep as much of the stone on display as I could. The other thing that I noticed, was that the hole was pretty sharp edged which (I can feel you nodding), is death to beading thread.

The stone was also quite brittle, and likely to be damaged with any metal findings. After a bit of pondering, I sanded out the hole a bit and glued a double delica in as a lining. Now I had a smaller hole with nicely rounded glass edges. Enter the metal finding I have no name for; and which I only
seem to be able to buy in Europe... a metal rod with round beads at each end, one of which unscrews.

I used right angle weave to make a stirrup shape, which took up the space left either side of the bezelled stone quite neatly. Then I got carried away and added a ring of beads. This proved too small to fit anything through it, but I kind of liked the textures and shapes,

Now I had a lovely kinetic pendant, the stone swivels smoothly on the metal rod, but with no means of attaching it to anything, other than to bead directly off the little ring with more right angle weave, which is just what I did, colouring the rope to mimic the patterning of the stone a little.

I made a second stirrup and ring arrangement to attach to the other end of the beaded rope. Then I realised that, oops, I'd need a break in the rope to be able to thread an end through the second stirrup.
So, finally, the bones of the design came together into an asymmetric lariat, which I can adjust, depending on which top I am wearing. I'm also really happy that one more stone is released from the 'one day when' box so I can enjoy wearing it.

Design update:
A slight problem, the gorgeous stone is actually quite weighty, on wearing the necklace I found myself in a gradual choke situation as the sliding stirrup slid a little until I was in danger of turning purple... back to the bead board and a couple of additions.
I worked units of raw on each face of the necklace part, and threaded on some little green jasper beads to link them, now I have two toggles that keep everything in place and the stirrup can't move beyond them.
Two? well one looked just plain odd, but a second one gave the design a little balance.