Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lantern Beaded Bead

I’ve been watching with fervour the amazing work being pumped out of the collective genius of the beading network. Kaleidocycles, gauntlets, Rick-Racks, oh my. I pine to participate in the CGB hive, but at my current rate of production it would take me years to complete anything. For now I’ll have to be content to marvel in the talents of others, and tackle smaller projects.

I recently decided to revisit some of my old UFO’s and see what could be adapted or changed. To start with I had a look at a beaded bead that I made using Superduos. With some tweaking I had created something new. Presenting Lantern Beaded Beads complete with tutorial.

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These were fun to make and they build quickly. They are difficult to photograph though, and I feel like the pictures don’t do them justice but maybe I’m just being picky.

I wish I could say that I was going to sit down and create tonight, but my mind is weary. As soon as my children stop getting out of bed I’ll be having a hot chocolate and drifting off to my world of mad dreams.

 

Life is Chaos

Life is chaos, but I think that’s the way it’s meant to be. All things going as planned, I should be in my own place by this time next month, but there’s a lot of ‘ifs’, so I’m trying not to count my chickens before they hatch. Our beautiful niece has been staying with us for the school holidays, and has been a marvelous help, enabling me to attend my various appointments without the kids in tow. It’s been great to have someone to relax and just chat with, too. Bead work has once again slowed right down due to sleepless nights, but hopefully soon, we’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief and everything will be back on track.

My Hollow Beaded Cube and Harlequin tutorials have been very well received, and I’m grateful to every one of you who has purchased, shared and reviewed my tutorials. The extra income was a huge weight off my shoulders at a difficult time. I’m still job searching, and my fingers are crossed that something will come up soon.

I’ll still be here, I may be a bit quiet, but I’m here. Next post I should have something beady to show.

Brain Fog Decends on Stalingrad

School has finally returned from the Christmas break, which means everyone is now ill.  It’s a predictable pattern, after the first week, the class numbers start to dwindle as the children succumb to colds,  tummy bugs and chicken pox. Then the wee darlings bring it all home to Mum and Dad.

I’m finding it difficult to self-motivate with my foggy brain and sleepy eyes. Beading is happening in fit and starts.  It would be so bad if I could sit comfortably with my beading tray across my lap, but alas, I was cursed with thighs about three inches too short. This makes tray balancing in front of the television a precarious sport, and comfort is not an option. The soft contours of the couch beckon to me, and while I try to resist, the pull is getting stronger.

Another thing keeping me from achieving my beading goals, is the ruthless and cunning Joseph Stalin. In the evenings he’s at his most demanding, plucking my work-in-progress off my bead mat and hurling it across the room. Pressing his face against mine and forcing me to give him my undivided attention. Melting my heart with his endearing face and loving cuddles, then driving me from the room with his rancid flatulence. In Just a week, Stalin has the entire household under his full control. But we love him anyway.

Stalin, pictured here with his brother "Jerry" or as I like to call him "Lenin".

Stalin, pictured here in the SPCA shelter with his brother “Jerry” or as I like to call him “Lenin”.

What’s the point of MRAW?

“Is there any point to an MRAW band in Geometric Beadwork?” This was a search term that someone used to get to my blog. This question refers to Kate McKinnon’s genius Modified Right Angle Weave Bellyband as seen in her Contemporary Geometric Beadwork book series. The simple answer is “ABSOLUTELY!”, but I will elaborate…

The MRAW band is used as a starting point for many of the structures in CGB. It is, in simple terms, a right angle weave strip with a row of peyote added in a single pass. It is a time consuming element, and if one was uncomfortable with it, there is no reason one couldn’t simply make a band of RAW and add the peyote row afterwards, or even eliminate the RAW section and just do a peyote start – however there is a definite advantage to using MRAW instead: structural integrity. mrawThis wonderful thread path, locks the peyote teeth in place and ensures a much more even distribution of your RAW beads. But it’s so much more than that.

MRAW vs Peyote start
A peyote start can be tricky at the best of times. It involves stringing on all of the beads of your first two rows, then adding the third row in an alternating pattern to pull the beads into the staggered, ‘toothed’ pattern we are familiar with. This start creates a problem with tension; the first rows will be tighter that the rest of the work. In smaller scale pieces, this tension difference may be so slight, that it will go unnoticed. However, the larger the width of peyote, the more compounded this problem will be. Many of the pieces in CGB are hundreds of beads wide, if you manage a peyote start without breaking beads towards the end of the third row, the tension variation will still create unsightly undulations of your “fabric”, instead of a sleek, smooth surface.

Progress photos highlighting the important role the the MRAW Belly-band in a Fortuneteller

Progress photos highlighting the important role of the MRAW Belly-band in a Fortuneteller

An MRAW band start ensures a gentle tension right from the get-go, as it creates the teeth of the first peyote row for you. It also gives you extra options as to how to build off it, whether you add it as a design feature in the middle of a cuff, or as a functional base for a layered piece, adding strength and structure to your design. In some of your designs, you may not wish to include the MRAW Belly-Band, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still use it to your full advantage. Let me direct you to Kate’s ingenious “Exploding Round”. I can’t tell you how much I love this concept, I used it in my Harlequin Bangles because I wanted an uninterrupted flowing pattern. The best part is the same Belly-Band can be used again and again for an easy start.

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Harlequin Bangles, worked off the same Removable MRAW Belly-Band

So while the MRAW start may not be the only way to start, it is the only start I’d recommend to someone working on Rick-Racks, Fortunetellers and their Winged and Horned friends.

Getting Back My Mojo

Creativity doesn’t always come easily to me. Sometimes I go through phases where ideas don’t flow; my guiding force has come up lame and I feel stifled. There’s a sense of claustrophobia that comes with being unable to create successfully, it’s like an external force bearing down on me, preventing that something from getting out. Luckily such phases are relatively shortlived, and once they pass, I can get on with enjoying the process.

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Success with Miyuki beads

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Christine necklace Version 1.0

My most recent phase of creative constipation, I dealt with by weaving a length of plain, single-colour crochet, which I turned into a simple necklace. Once it was finished, I still felt un-enthused. I persevered because of a secret unreasonable fear that if I “take a break”, I may not ever start again. A new bracelet design eventuated, which I loved, then I added a circular peyote stitched button clasp. It was my first attempt at circular peyote, so I thought I’d try it again, but my second result was wonky. Still not out of my slump, I felt disheartened, even though I was aware that my failure was most likely due to the use of Czech seed beads, whereas my initial design was made with the much more consistent Japanese Miyuki beads. My supply of Japanese seed beads is very limited, with the vast majority of my stash being Czech, so I took to the internet and ordered a modest amount of Toho seed beads in delicious bright colours. When they arrived, I felt rejuvenated. I’ve never worked with Toho seeds before, but they are my new favourites. They’re perfect little units, and the hole on the 11/0’s is wide enough to slip a jump-ring through, which is a huge bonus for finishing all manner of trinkets.

With my new loves at the ready, I quickly whipped up a necklace in Hot Pink, Lemon, Lime and Sky Blue, using the same technique as my bracelet. But found that the chain twisted  when worn. But my creative flow was functioning again, and a simple solution was quickly found and I began stitching my final design. I intend to try that bracelet again, I’m determined to conquer circular peyote, this time in Tohos.

(Edit: I originally named the necklace Candace, however I have now renamed it Christine in honor of the woman who was the receive the pink version for her birthday next week. Christine tragically passed away as the result of an accident on Saturday night after spending the evening babysitting her grandchildren. Much love to her family.)

Completed Candace necklace, available at http://jsjewellery.storenvy.com/

Completed Candace necklace, available at http://jsjewellery.storenvy.com/

Fortuneteller Addiction

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Being utterly in love with my first Fortune Teller I did something completely outrageous for someone with my short attention span: I started another.  Of course doing the same thing twice is dreadfully dull so I had to make some changes.

My first change would be my thread choice.  I am usually faithful to Fireline,  it’s robust and foolproof and can deal with the abuse of my high tension. I had intended to experiment with different threads several moons ago when I purchased some very cute little bobbins of nylon thread. The trouble is, I can no longer remember just what thread it is. I had thought that it was Silamide,  but it would seem that Silamide isn’t sold on bobbins like this. My next best bet is C-Lon; I know that it’s not Nymo as I’ve worked with it before .  However, because C-Lon purportedly has “almost no stretch”, I remain flummoxed.  To me, this mystery thread has plenty of stretch.  I guess elasticity is a matter of perception,  I have after all,  been working exclusively with a zero – stretch product.

A close-up of the famous MRAW band.

A close-up of the famous MRAW band.

I’m now 16 hours in to my second, much larger Fortune Teller. Progress is slow as I adjust to the delicate nature of nylon thread, a much softer tension and the extra length I have added to each peak.  One thing that I can say for certain, I’m missing using Patrick Duggan’s miracle Fireline joining technique,  it is a huge time-saver but it can’t be done with this thread. It’s difficult to tell just how the changes will affect the finished piece this early on, but I’m expecting it to be a vastly different result.