Monday, 29 January 2018

Travel in style

Treasure box cuff
This year I have a very special trip on the itinerary with the wonderful bead designer and expert on all things Italy, Maggie Meister.
It's the Beadventures 10 day tour of Southern Italy.

We start in Venice and get right into beading with the first design. This is your travellers treat, a box of treasures with everything needed to make a bead embroidered cuff. Each treasure box has a unique selection of vintage fabrics, bead and crystals.  Throughout the trip there will be shopping opportunities to add to the treasures, so you'll have a unique memento of our time together. You might find a gorgeous Venetian glass bead or button when we visit the glass making island of Murano.

Luciana Pendant in three colourways
During the tour we'll visit Ravenna, Ferrara and Bologna. I can't wait! I'll be travelling with sketchbook and crayons at the ready, seeking inspiration, as we take in the world heritage Byzantine and Roman sites. There is also plenty of time to relax over delicious regional food and wine, or simply wander and enjoy the shopping.

All before settling into the beautiful Antica Corte Pallavacina Castle. There we'll relax and bead together.
The Luciana sketcbook page

The design I've created for us to enjoy is called 'Luciana', a subtle mix of crystals, pearls and seed beads with a delicate vintage finish. Made of interlinking elements, Luciana is worked in a combination of beading stitches in easy to follow steps.

WE'd love you to join us, so for full details of the tour, prices and itinerary, please visit the Beadventures website.

Friday, 3 November 2017

The life of beige

In a former career life, I got to interview textile artists and jewellery designers for magazines. I had a personal wish list of people I wanted to meet, and right up there was the King of colour himself, Kaffe Fassett. During one of his highly entertaining lectures, he addressed a room full of ladies of a certain age with a deep sigh and the heartfelt plea of 'Why does everything have to be so beige?' taken out of context like this it does sound like a criticism of his audience, but was actually a commentary on his first impressions of English interiors; but you could take it either way.
Well, that was a good few years ago and ladies of a certain age nowadays have a rainbow of Lagen look linen layers and the liberating Gudrun Sjoden eclectic and vibrantly colourful fashion collections. We can knit ourselves a rainbow of shawls, cowls and cardi's in gorgeous artisan yarns. Not for us the path of fade to grey in soft creams and beige with touches of navy for smart. No, we will likely celebrate the arrival of a full head of grey or white by dyeing it lime green or purple.

What got me thinking about that throw away comment (which stuck with me ever since, as you can tell... with a promise to self never to settle for beige), was the rediscovery of these images of a huge basket of walnuts. They were gently drying in the corner of a studio where I was invited to teach. I loved the bountiful abundance, the subtle mix of warm neutrals and the cool grey greens of the hand made willow basket.
A gorgeous abundance of neutral beige colour palette.

So then I thought about how we use colour in beading, lots of us love a good neutral mix, the newish matt metallics are divinely every shade of beige, from almost ash white, to deep chocolate with all points champagne and gold between.
Then I remembered that I made this necklace not long after I took the pictures of the walnuts.

It started with the glittery Czech glass button, gifted to me by a friend which set the colour theme for all the beads I picked out. CzechMate two hole tile beads with a lustre coating, fierce gunmetal spike beads discovered in the haberdashery department,  inky matt black and several matt metallic seed bead colours; plus some chunky matt gold bugle beads for the necklace strap.

The main pendant is bead embroidered, with a peyote stitch bezel to hold the button in place. Lot's of fringing with the willow grey picked out in the fringes. The strap is a mix of ladder stitch and right angle weave. The necklace sides are linked to the pendant with old brass curtain rings.

Definitely mostly beige, but not, I hope, in a settle for beige kind of way.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Nature's Ruby and Russet

My nephew and I decided to take a walk and found a tree with these gorgeous red leaves; from a distance the tree looked darkest purple, but up close it was a riot of purply reds. I photographed the leaves with the light coming through and they glow like a stained glass window.
On the ground a cast iron drain cover was the perfect shade of dark rusty grey to showcase the leaves.
A gorgeous ready made colourway for a beading project. Unnoticed until later, those lemony Sycamore wings add a perfect accent colour.
On the way home we made a list of all our favourite red and purple autumn things, like rosehip syrup, blackcurrant cordial, bramble jelly and stewed plums; all of them giving us a hoard of nature's goodness to store, ready to cook and eat through the winter.

Once you start looking it's hard to stop, back at home I found some papery, silky red onions too. I love how the dried roots and stalks introduce that same lemony accent.
When the colour muse inspires, it's great to have a simple design as a standby, to try out the new colour mix. Mine is a 'wear all the time' bangle that was a sample for a techniques workshop. It uses pinch beads and crystals with a sprinkling of seed beads and works up into a sturdy bangle that can withstand every day wear.
I can make one in an evening, but only if it's not my turn to cook.
 I used matt and shiny dark plum pinch beads, with dark red and copper ab crystals. Lemony green seed beads are there too, as a reminder of the Sycamore wings.

Between the two bangles sits one made earlier, using a favourite turquoise and sage mixture. I like the way they look all together, like even more that they match a new chunky knit jumper in dark purple that is perfect to snuggle inside.

The best thing about these bangles is that they have enough flex in them to be made slightly smaller than usual; and, they can be rolled onto your wrist.
You can throw all sorts of colours at them and they organise your mix for you, here are some in violet, teal and turquoise.

The pattern for this bangle, and several variations of necklaces is called 'Pinch me I'm Dreaming'. It started as a workshop to show and share different right angle weave variations and was inspired by my friend Andreina who showed me how to make the necklace she wore to a class.
It's available here in my pdf store.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Autumn beady inspiration

Ready or not, here it comes; the time of bounty and colour before the cold greys of winter set in. The time for long walks on bright clear days, for gathering leaves for their colour inspiration. I'd love to create a gorgeously leafy inspired project, but right now I have a to do list so long I hate it for getting in the way of spontaneous creating. Instead, here is a really simple idea.
Gather up some colourful leaves, real or virtual (you can borrow mine), then gather all the odds and ends of seed beads you have, in the colours you find in the leaves.

Next, choose one simple beady motif, small enough to bead easily.
Make as many variations you can come up with, using the colours chosen from your bead stash.

Lots of beading is repetition, and a mass of one thing is gorgeous.
Like crocheting granny squares or preparing patchwork quilt pieces, this process of gradually amassing a simple element is easy to squeeze into a spare half hour here and there.

Here are a couple of examples to get you thinking.

These beaded leaves were made using the same process, I had half used tubes of nine bead colours ranging from very dark red, through rust and coral to light yellow and gold. There are 18 leaves and I joined each one with a jump ring through the stalk end, to a chunky copper chain.

Beaded beads can be quick to make and look great in any colour mix you throw at them.

For this necklace I used yellowy green, olive and bronze mixes over pale beech wooden beads.
Then added some detail when I strung them together with antique copper bead caps more seed beads and green pearls.

There are lots of quick and easy free patterns if you google search for leaves, beaded beads or other simple motifs.
The leaf pattern I used is published in Albion Stitch book 2

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

New workshops reveal

It's September, I'm sitting in my workshop with the doors and windows wide open; sunshine streaming across the door sill; I can hear birds celebrating the warmth, the farm tractor in the distance, and my neighbours chickens and ducks are rummaging through the long grass, clucking and quacking contentedly. So what has all this got to do with new workshops?
A designer's year falls in to different segments, designing, writing, kit packing, hectic travel and teaching, creative solitude, all punctuated with deadlines from venues and event organisers, groups, magazines and stores. So a day of beautiful sunshine and the lovely feeling of having new work ready to share is definitely something to be relished.
The new projects for 2018 workshops are ready and here they are...

I'll be offering nine workshops for 2018, some need to stay under wraps for a little while longer, some are the most often requested workshops from 2017.
If you'd like to see when and where the workshops will be held, I'll be posting the 2018 schedule on my website in November.
Click the link for the current schedule on my website.

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