Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Addressing my fibre phobia

Well, I had the book "Bohemian-Inspired Jewellery" by Lorelei Eurto and Erin Siegel for my birthday, but I've just had so much difficulty getting my head round the use of fibre in general and fabric in particular. Now, though, since my Bead Soup from Ana has got some ribbon in (eek!), I thought I'd try and ease myself in gently with a more tractable problem - stringing beads onto cord using simple overhand knots.

Here I used waxed cotton in a lovely dark red. I soon discovered that only certain beads have holes large enough to work for this. This restricted my designs somewhat. The design constraints are different in other ways, too. The fibre itself provides additional visual interest, so a simpler design seems to work better than the more complex designs you can make with wire (either normal wire or beading wire). Because of that simplicity, each individual bead seems to speak louder, so it's even more important to pick the right ones. This bracelet here was very much a first attempt.

Bracelet made using knotted waxed cotton
The nice thing about wearing a bracelet made of fibre, I found, is that it's much more drapey than something strung on beading wire. So it's much easier to wear and doesn't feel like it gets in the way so much.

Overall this seems to have a much more informal feel than beads on wire. I have to admit that, despite my expectations, I do quite like it. I will have to practise some more!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Bead Soup sent to Ana

This is my own photo of the Bead Soup sent to Ana. It was quite a dull day, the house was dark, but I HAD to send the beads to her in time for the posting deadline - so my son and I went outside and put the beads on the ground! I used a white piece of card for contrast - it has my name written on in a design by my sister, a talented papercrafter.

Ana tells me she's used all the beads up already - I am in admiration at her productivity. I have to confess that I haven't finished anything yet using the beads she's sent me, but I have done a great deal of "playing" with the different colours and textures. Watch this space...

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Bead Soup from Ana

Oh my goodness, the Bead Soup I received from Ana was so amazing! It all came with little cards saying what everything was, but I took most of them out of their little bags for their photo-shoot.

I really do not know what on earth I'm going to do with all these glories. There is even a choice of 3 focals!

Gorgeous packaging! I had to admire it for about a day before I could open it.

This is most of the bead soup all together in one photo
Beautiful focal!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Introducing Ana, my Bead Soup Blog Party partner!

This post is to properly introduce my Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP) partner, Ana. She has done the BSBP before but this is my first time - it's nice for me to be paired up with some a little more experienced in beady/bloggy stuff. She's kindly allowed me to use pictures from her blog to illustrate this post. Just for fun I've also done an email interview with her about her work (see below).
my BSBP partner Ana
Ana uses colour to great effect: I love the way the colours sing in these recent earrings of hers. A good way of seeing a lot of her work at once is in her Etsy shop, which also contains pieces made by her husband - they're evidently a creative pair of people!
Some recent work by Ana
Here is my email interview with Ana.

1. What is your favourite colour to work with at the moment?
Yellow, grey and green. I used to steer clear of these colours now I'm making an effort to incorporate new colours as part of the next step in my beading evolution. And the most surprising part: I'm having so much fun using these colours!

2. What is your favourite metal to work with at the moment?
Ana: I'm having so much fun discovering gun metal. As part of my dedication to improve my beading skills I go through my finished jewellery on a regular basis taking apart pieces that I'm no longer satisfied with because I see something in the design or technique used that could be improved. So I took apart some designs and substituted silver wire with gun metal with amazing results. It's just awesome how a piece of blah jewellery was transformed just by changing the colour of the wire.

3. What special place inspires you and why?
Ana: I've thought long and hard about this one because going on road trips is one of my favourite things to do. My husband and I love to travel around Slovenia and discovering our lovely country and its less known beautiful places. And while I do have a favourite city that I love to travel to it doesn't really inspire me. When thinking about what place inspires me I kept going back home, literally. So the place that inspires me is our home, our apartment, the way we've decorated it that resonates our personalities and our lifestyle from the tiny twin shelves to the vinyl sticker of a giant tree on our bedroom wall I love to look at as I sip my morning coffee.

4. What are your favourite books to read at the moment and why?
Ana: As I'm currently preparing for my bar exam I have put fiction literature aside for the foreseeable future and replaced them with law books, articles and other materials I have to study. While some of them are very interesting the others slightly less so and I do miss reading a good novel from time to time but at the end of the day the thought of reading some more makes my head sore, so I opt for some easy entertainment like watching my favourite hero: Poirot.

5. What things about jewellery-making have you learnt over the years that you wish you had known earlier?
Ana: To pay as much attention to the quality and diversity of clasps and findings as to the beads themselves. This would be the biggest lesson learned in all of my DIY whether it be sewing or beading or anything else, is that the foundation or the ground structure of any project has to be solid. By that I mean not only when it comes to materials used but also the techniques and knowledge of all steps of the creative process, like learning to fit clasps properly, knotting, wire wrapping etc.

6. What is your favourite jewellery-making technique at the moment?
Ana: Bead knotting using waxed cord. It's a bit time consuming but oh so relaxing.

7. What do you like most about the BSBP?
Ana: My favourite part of the BSBP is meeting new people. Since I live in an area with no crafters I could connect with, I often feel isolated. I love the bead soup because so many people get together to exchange thoughts, ideas, interesting techniques, knowledge and just talk to each other and connect and have fun.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Bead Soup Blog Party 2013

Well! Guess what, I have signed up for Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party for the first time ever. It is all very exciting. I have been paired up with Ana Krepel from Slovenia. We are going to be in the 2nd Reveal.

I posted my carefully-selected Bead Soup out to her on Saturday. Using my newfound hobby of messing with the settings in Microsoft Picture Manager (yeah, I know, I know, but the current alternative is MS Paint and its spray-can setting - I did try this but the results were rather garish) I have cropped my original photo severely, and messed with the brightness, colour and contrast until I got the rather pleasing but utterly uninformative image below.

Update: I received my package from Ana today! Will post photos once we get a bit of sunlight round here.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Rose-tinted glasses and anti-statements

We went into town today and of course, the shops seemed full of Valentine's Day things. Most years I get a bit annoyed at the commercialisation of February 14th and the not-so-subliminal cultural messages about what men and women are for. This year, against all expectations, I caught myself thinking "that's such a cute little gift", "ooh, like the colours on that", "that's actually really nice" and "hey, maybe I could make something similar"! It's official: I have become sappy in my old age.
Guess it might be something to do with the fact that my son was skipping along the pavement with infectious enthusiasm, his little hand firmly holding mine. Plus, I'd been for a seven-mile run earlier, and was getting a decent rush of post-exercise endorphins. All in all, a very good recipe for a rose-tinted view of the world.  
Anti-statement necklace
In line with the Valentines Day/rose-tinted theme, here is a rare foray into pink for me: my second new work necklace. My category of "work necklaces" has very strict eligibility criteria, including: reasonably conservative design, not too heavy, not too long, not over-complex, not jingly-jangly, and a nice finish without scrappy bits. It is sort of the opposite of a statement necklace: an anti-statement necklace, perhaps.
I've often found myself wishing I had a necklace with pink in, because warm colours can be fussy: often they do not get along with other warm colours (eg pink, orange, yellow, red, purple: pairs or trios of these colours can be made to go together, but they have to be exactly the right shades, or they have terrible fallings-out).

So this is a similar design to the last work necklace, but with some extra features including some chain around the back instead of gemstone chips: I'll see which version turns out more comfortable to wear. I can change the length of the chain section a bit if I want to (meaning: I can add/remove links with the help of pliers!). Could also change the pendant around if I get bored with this one.

Just discovered the "Edit Picture" menu in Picture Manager and have been having lots of fun adjusting settings!
Next thing to think about is going to be a "work necklace" for my sister in Australia, maybe with brighter colours because, I hear, they actually get some sunshine over there. Aiming to get it made and posted in time for her birthday...

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Stepping up a grade, silver, my sister, and the sea.

As people who know me may have heard, I'm supposed to be going up a grade at work soon - hurrah! I won't be contracted to work any nights or weekends anymore, so I will actually be taking a pay cut, but it will be my first exposure to formal meetings etc and will definitely help me develop new skills. All this is a good reason to upgrade my wardrobe - which in turn will necessitate some suitably sober necklaces that are not too long, jangly or whimsical!

Of course I wanted to wear a necklace that has meaning to me. So I chose this beautiful bead which my sister in Australia chose for me. It's white with gold speckles, and because of its shape it reminds me very much of a sea-shell glistening on the shore. So in line with the "sea" theme, I made a silver <cough-plated-cough> wire spiral, added some iridescent pink spacers, and threaded this pendant onto a string of seed beads and amethyst chips. Of course, as it is a sea-themed necklace, I had to go for a lobster clasp! - but may later upgrade the silver connector ring to something else if it gets too tatty-looking with use (this is what happened to a previous necklace using these components for clasps - I think it was just tarnish rather than the silver-plating wearing away).

I've wound it round twice in the picture above so you can see what I mean about the clasp, but the picture below shows how I've used the two colours of seed-beads - in a pattern inspired by the "colour blocking" trend of the past few years. Basically there's a section of silver-cored seed beads, then shiny dark-grey ones at the bottom, then silver-cored ones again. Having learnt from my previous "rustic" bracelet, I chose some of my better-quality seed beads that aren't too irregularly shaped!

What do you think? I am very pleased with it.