Tag Archives: comfort zone

A Time to Grow


Pink Cadillac by Marsha Wiest-Hines. Image published with permission.

I often feel rushed when making jewellery. I’m never going fast enough for my liking and I feel that if I don’t churn out a finished piece every few days, that I’m somehow letting someone down. I seem to have developed this notion that I need to make a certain amount of things that people will want to wear every day, then I feel like a failure when I see how few people are actually buying my beadwork.  I look at the amazing project pieces by beaders such as Marsha Wiest-Hines or Eva Maria Keiser, and think to myself “if only I had time to experiment more so I could learn to make wondrous creations of my own”.


T-Hex by Eva Maria Keiser.
Image published with permission.

Then a short while back the talented Patrick Duggan, posted something on Facebook that resonated with me. I won’t write it word for word, but to summarise: ‘don’t get hung up on sales, bead for the love of beading, sales mean nothing and thinking about sales will stifle your creativity’.  Of course, the way he said it was much more eloquent and inspiring. He also said that when he dies, his family will be left with a house full of beautiful jewellery, which I think is a lovely image too. What a legacy to leave!

In two weeks time I have the Hawera Ladies Night market to attend, so right now, I’m playing catch up on earrings and memory wire bracelets, but once it’s done and dusted I’m changing my focus. I’m going to create the jewellery I want to create, instead of feeling obliged to meet an imaginary expectation.  I’m going to work on becoming the artist I aspire to be. Creating should not be about catering to the market, it should be about inspiring wonder, the kind of wonder that I feel when I see the bead work of the masters.


Dreaming of Workspace


The manrobe belonged to my dear Nana. It’s blonde oak – not a wood I’m particularly fond of, but it was Nana’s so I love it anyway. It has six drawers up one side and a big cupboard. The drawers are empty except for the occasional toy – things of importance can’t really be kept in drawers that toddlers have access to. Last year the drawers were used as stairs for my little boy to climb to the top of the manrobe. I removed them and stacked them in my bedroom, along with all of the other bi001ts and pieces that I try to keep from his busy hands. But he outsmarted me anyway, the gaps left by the drawers were now the perfect ladder.

The cupboard is where I keep my beads. It’s lockable and big, but not big enough. Finding the correct bead is difficult in this lost game of Tetris, the one I want is often at the back and on the bottom. My wires and completed pieces no longer fit and room has been made for them in the increasingly cluttered bedroom. The thin hardboard that comprises the back of the manrobe is losing it’s grip; the tiny nails that tack it into place are giving up the ghost. I will have to replace them soon before all of my beads go spilling out of the back.

My perfect world includes a room solely dedicated to my jewellery, complete with a display area for finished pieces, a large work table and an extensive and organised storage area for tools and components. I’m fiercely jealous of artists who have studios in their homes. One day I will too, but probably not until the kids have grown and abandoned us. In the meantime, I can dream. Dreams of longing,  of workspace and storage solutions.


Living the Dream


Evolution and a Gift

Ahh creation, what a fickle beast you are. Due to my building frustration with wire, I decided to just sit down and bead. I didn’t know what to make and I flicked through the pages of my ‘ideas’ book, but nothing inspired. I resigned myself to a little therapeutic repetition in the form of herringbone stitch. My intention was just to make a little swatch of fabric while I mulled over my options. As the swatch grew, I found myself admiring the textured ridges that are archetypical of herringbone, and I thought, why not make this into a bracelet, I added some crystals for effect. It still looked a little plain, so I began adding a border and more possibilities became evident; now the border, is a border no more. My little swatch has taken on a life of it’s own and it’s still growing.
003I’ve even started another one so I can take photos for a future tutorial idea, and have begun tinkering with software to make diagrams. This is a bit of a learning curve for me so don’t expect overnight results.

In the middle of all of this, I got a wonderful surprise in the mail. My armbands that I had sent to Kate McKinnon for her wonderful photography had returned home. Accompanying them were some goodies, a Japanese puzzle eraser, a vial of lovely silver charlottes and a copy of the amazing, inspiring , Contemporary Geometric Beadwork Volume I. I immediately shut myself away with it so that I could absorbs as much of it as I could, I love, love, love it. I’m so excited to be having my work included in Volume II, I’m almost jumping out of my skin!

Brick Stitch: My Nemesis

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I’ve spent a couple of evenings contending with this stitch and I think I’m now winning the battle. Simple, flat brick stitch is not a problem, but when you try to shape it, it throws a tantrum.

At first, I was attempting to work with symmetry. I would add a increase bead on one side, then as I progressed, I would mirror that bead on the other side. This caused the piece to buckle and curl. I tried again and again, but still the increases were too much. If the beads weren’t placed symmetrically, I could easily get the piece to lay flat; but wouldn’t that compromise the look of the finished piece? I resisted a while longer. I looked at the work of others and scrutinised the details. Dear God! My inner Vulcan was horrified: The symmetry was an illusion! Illogical! To me, beading is patterns – mathematical and logical. But shaped brick stitch is a more organic beast, extra beads need to be added at random locations for the piece to come together. At last, success!

Typically, I immediately thought of another challenge that needed conquering. What if, instead of completing a circle, I made two half-circles that were joined end for end. To my surprise, this actually worked. I still had some problems to solve though, such as making clean joins and the sudden realisation that when you turn a rainbow upside-down the colours become reversed. But I made it work. My test pieces are complete and I’m ready to create something bigger and better. Well, nearly ready. I think I’ve earned a break from brick stitch before I commit to a big project. Tonight, I play with wire, I have an earring tutorial that I’m dying to try out. Stay tuned!


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All of us have pre-conceived notions of how things should be. We stick to these ideas as if they’re indisputable, and we rationalise the irrational just so we can hold on to our self-imposed limitations. Whether it’s a firm belief that pizza slices should be taken from the box in a clockwise direction, that a toilet roll should be hung with the length to the back (or front!), or an adherance to a facist movement; we all do it to some degree. Changing these mindsets takes effort, as breaking from your internal ‘rules’ feels wrong.

I restrict myself by loathing exposed thread in my beadwork. A little exposed thread is unavoidable, but in most cases it can be concealed in little nooks and crannies so that it’s not so noticeable.

But there’s nothing really wrong with it, there is some amazing artwork out there with plenty of exposed thread. I just can’t seem to let myself do the same thing. Because of this weird little mental decree, I have never made anything from brick stitch – one of the most basic fundamental stitches in bead weaving. Well, I did make a pair of earrings once, but I hated them. So I’m on a personal mission: To free myself from the shackles of surreptitious string and bring everything out into the open.

To prepare for my trip out of my comfort zone, I have made two thread-happy pearl bracelets. I can’t deny that they look great when worn, but if I look for too long all I can see is filament, mocking me, with it’s bright whiteness. After much inner turmoil I forced myself to put them in the store. Tonight I have a date with brick stitch.