Category Archives: Project pieces

Provoquant Tutorial… Finally

It’s been an entire year since I first began writing this tutorial. I would sit and stare at it for a long time, but for some reason I just couldn’t make it work. I’m not a natural at illustrating. I had to teach myself to use the software, and if I’m honest, I still don’t know what I’m doing. But I always get there in the end, and I’m very proud of my results with this tutorial.

I struggled with one particular logistical problem, then suddenly, a few weeks ago, the solution popped into my head. Since then it’s been all go, beading, writing, refining, testing…. But now, it’s finally ready.

Provoquant features a beautiful 30mm Swarovski Pear stone, two 16mm Rivoli and a whole lot of CRAW. CRAW is a marvelous stitch, it has a robust structure while remaining lightweight on the wearer. If you have not learned CRAW yet, I have a free tutorial available here. This tutorial is also attached to the Provoquant tutorial, which is available in my Etsy store now, I hope you enjoy it!

Zig-Wing Exploration

I’m certain most, if not all of you, have heard about the announcement of Contemporary Geometric Beadwork III (AND the Pattern Book AND the colouring book) and I’m sure, you’re all just as excited as I am. It’s an incredible labour of love for Kate and her amazing team, the editors, the translators, the illustrators and of course the beaders. Seeing all the beautiful work that the online community has been churning out spurred me in to action. It was time for Jenny to try a Zig-Wing.

Of course, I’m a tinkerer, so I couldn’t just reproduce the original Zig-Wing without making my own changes.

The Zig-Wing Sun-baked Starfish

The Zig-Wing Sun-baked Starfish

Then I got an idea to make a tiny Zig-Wing, which lead me to this.

The sweet little Zig-Wing Flat Flower Pendant

The sweet little Zig-Wing Flat Flower Pendant

And then things got out of control.

The Zig-Wing Pixie Hat, or the Zig-Wing Tea Cosy...

The Zig-Wing Pixie Hat, or the Zig-Wing Tea Cosy…

...perhaps the Zig-Wing Alien Egg Nursery Pod

…perhaps the Zig-Wing Alien Egg Nursery Pod

The possibilities for the Zig-Wing and friends are truly endless.

Bitza Bangle

Those of you who follow my personal blog, Unplanned Detour, will be aware of my recent changes; for the sake of those of you who do not, I’ll fill you in. I got a job! Well, two jobs: cleaning, and gardening. It’s hard physical work for my unaccustomed body, but it’s satisfying all the same. Even bigger news, I’ve bought a house! I move in next weekend, and I can’t wait. I’m probably going to be dirt poor, for the next 30 years, but I’ll figure it out. If you want to help me pay my lawyer fees, head over to my Etsy store and go nuts.

Somehow, in amongst all the madness, I managed to complete my new Bitza Bangle. Returning to some of the CGB techniques I’ve grown to love so much, this one features a nice little winged miniskirt and a scalloped edge. The skirt repeats the diamond pattern of the bangle beneath, so it’s a subtle detail which I love to run my fingers over. I’d love to make a tutorial for this one too, if only I can find the time and focus. Tutorials take a bit more cognitive power than beading, I’m not sure I have much cognitive power to spend at the moment.

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Summer Days

Hot lazy days are here again. Christmas is done and dusted, but the school holiday rages on. The nights are hot and sleepless and the days are warm and weary. One has a tendency to relax more than One should. There’s a million jobs that need doing because I procrastinated through spring. I only just today sorted out my linen cupboard and packed away the winter woolies.
Every day my goal has been to get some beading time in, but every day it’s a struggle to get more than half an hour in. Yesterday, in a fit of inspiration, I donned my headphones, put on a Algernon Blackwood audiobook, attached a new thread to my beadwork and promptly slipped into the dreamworld. My 7 year-old woke me up two hours later to tell me that my snoring was scaring her and that she had taken the remote control out of sleeping Daddy’s hand before he dropped it.

This morning I decided to go for a walk before it got too hot, so at 6.30am the girl-child and I visited some ducks and explored the cemetery. I was feeling quite smug with myself for out-witting the sun, for surely early exercise would give me the energy boost that would keep me going through the day.  But then l I got home and napped most of my morning away.  It’s now 2pm and I could quite easily go back to sleep.

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So progress for me has been characteristically slow this month, but I do have something to show for it. My Harlequin tutorial is finished! It’s available in my Etsy store now. Well, I thought it was finished, but then someone asked if there were sizing options. Whoops!! That was quite an oversight. So I am rectifying that, and anyone who has bought the tutorial, or buys the tutorial in the interim, will be contacted and emailed a new and improved copy with two more sizing options and colour ways. The patterns for the new sizes are complete, but I need to partially bead them to get an accurate measurement. Watch this space!


Still Chugging

You could be forgiven for thinking that I’d fallen off the grid, it has, after all been five weeks since my last post. I promise, I have been here, chugging along in the background. Those of you who follow me on Facebook, will know that I’ve been working on a new Harlequin Bangle and tutorial. Those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, shame on you!

I kid, of course, I still love you.


The bangle is now done, but the tutorial still has a fair bit of work, plus proofing, left to be done. It’s been the most challenging tutorial I’ve taken on, but I think I’ve managed to convey the ideas clearly. I’ve also learned some new tricks in Inkscape which will come in handy in future tutorials. I’m indebted to Kate McKinnon (yes, her again, I know I’m a ridiculous fan-girl), for giving me the all-clear to shamelessly plagiarise her techniques. It’s this generosity and collective-brain ideal that has turned CGB in to an almost sentient beast.


Being part of the CGB readership is almost like being a part of a hive-mind. There’s so many ideas in my head, I couldn’t possibly try them all;  but then I don’t need to, because every time I think “what if I done this?” I see that someone has already tried it. We have become a community. We learn from each others mistakes and successes. We encourage each other to try new things. We freely share our ideas without the guarded jealously to prevalent in the art world. When comments such as “I’m going to try this” are left under images of our work, we don’t bellow “Copyright Infringement!!”, we say “Yes!! Here are some tips and a list of the colours I used.”

It’s been a wonderful ride, long may it continue.

Wonder Woman’s Miyuki Renaissance

After listing my Wonder Woman in the Sky on Acid bracelet, one of my lovely customers inquired as to it’s size and alas, we found it to be to large for her. But instead, I’ve made her a custom horned bangle using the same colours. Of course, I couldn’t help myself and added in some extra sections of solid cobalt. I used a scalloped edge and nearly built an internal layer of wings on the petticoat, but changed my mind at the last instant, going for a red-edged, cobalt sleeve instead. This one reminds me of Japanese Muromachi architecture, which is fitting, seeing as it’s made entirely of Japanese Miyuki Delica beads.

Of all of my Contemporary Geometric Beadwork pieces, this is by far my favourite. I’ve finally found the tension that suits me best and a thread that I like. Nymo isn’t everyone choice, in fact I’m usually a die-hard Fireline fan, but for these projects I find it ideal. My only concern now is that it fits my customer!  I have rather un-feminine hands, so to me, it’s rather small, but it does have a decent amount of flex; I’m cautiously optimistic.

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Wonder Woman in the Sky on Acid

Today I’m unveiling my new CGB piece, this time a horned bangle.  While I was making it, it reminded me of Wonder Woman’s outfit. She always wore plain gold gauntlets, but if
Wonder Woman dropped a whole lot more acid, she might prefer something with wings and horns. This one started with 90 units of gold MRAW, a blue bead-soup background, 10 golden horns and then I tried my hand at Kate’s Elegant Guide Round. I used black Nymo D thread this time, which I found ideal for this project, and so much easier than my mystery thread from my last project, which tangled and frayed if I so much as looked at it side-ways. I’m still not thrilled with my tension, which I intentionally tried to make soft (perhaps too soft for me), but gradually tightened up as I got to the shape-work.

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My first guide round grew into something a little bit experimental. I had an idea to have these flappy little triangles, adorned with 15/0 gold seeds and matte blue drops in their valleys. I realised too late, that it wasn’t really practical – at least not the way I was doing it. But I was already committed, being several rounds in with lots of backwards and forwards thread-paths locking it in place.  I managed to make it work, but it does need refining. I’m certain that there is a better way to achieve a similar idea, but that will have to wait for another day.

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My second guide round was an internal one, a red petticoat under a blue skirt, both with gold-tipped flared wings.  These worked brilliantly and I love the way they nestle together. Wonder Woman in the Sky on Acid is available to purchase here.

Santa Cruz

Perhaps the most surprising thing that I’ve learned about freeform peyote, is that it’s not particularly easy. There are countless ways for it to go awry and turn into a hideous mess. I spent more time looking at my piece, pondering my next move or trying to work out how to fix the aesthetic balance of the piece than doing actual beading.


I did enjoy the process, well, most of it; the ugly duckling phase was a little scary, and I thought I was going to have to rip it to bits and start again. The freedom to just choose whichever bead fits best was a rare joy, as was the ability to completely alter the look and feel on a whim. I hope I was able to do justice to the beautiful beachy “Summer Wave” focal bead made by the talented Lesley McIver of Glitz Art Glass, here in New Zealand. Check her out on Facebook to see her work as it comes out of the kiln, and remember, I’m more than happy to do commissions including any of the beads you see there. You can find this bracelet, named “Santa Cruz”, for sale at my Storenvy online store.

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The Secrets of the Fortune Keeper

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In bead work, as in life, things often take unexpected turns and end up very different to how you imagined. My Fortune Teller is a Fortune Teller no more. I was expecting to be working on it for another week, but last night as I began decreasing the horns, it abruptly informed me that it was headed in a different direction. I obliged, because I believe that creativity is all about giving in to whims and seeing where they take you.

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The resulting object is a little mysterious. I don’t quite know what it is. It’s not jewellery, so I guess it must be art. I can not call it a Fortune Teller, because it’s simply not. So I’m calling it a Fortune Keeper, as it is a secretive creature. For the moment it is poised on my dresser, looking like a menacing spiked sea-star and intimidating my blown-glass perfume bottle. Soon, I will turn it over so it can mimic a great big daisy, and let the neon yellow petals brighten up this gloomy foggy excuse for a summers day.

The Nature of Beadwork


My new Fortune Teller is taking an age to complete.  All of my little variations have added up to create an enormous piece, I’m still not really sure what it’s final incarnation will be. Will it be a bangle or a bowl, a crown perhaps?  I’ve clocked up 35 hours work so far and I’m still increasing the horns.002

While weaving, I take care to treat the work lightly, gently cajoling beads and thread in to the correct alignment; never using force. It dawns on me that potential buyers, may not understand the delicate nature of beadwork and I find myself unsure how to address the issue without giving the impression that the quality is somehow substandard.

Bead weaving is basically threads of nylon or polyethylene which have been spider-webbed together – under tension – using tiny pieces of glass as connection points. As with anything that is under tension, these threads and beads have a breaking point. Bead work should be treated with great care. Contraptions like the Fortune Teller with it’s horns, spikes, and thin walled cylinder beads, even more so; such pieces are art and not for mere casual wear. Take care not to twist or squash your beadwork from it’s natural form, treat it like you should a living thing and it will reward you with longevity.