Tag Archives: Jenny Sangster

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”.

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Harlequin Tutorial

That’s right, I have finally finished the Harlequin tutorial! It’s 18 pages of detailed illustrations, photos and written instructions. This tutorial is very thorough and includes step-by-step instructions for the MRAW band and Exploding Round, and FOUR Miyuki Delica colour schemes (code numbers included) in three sizing options.

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You can find it in my Etsy store. I hope you enjoy it.

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!

 

Summer at Last

Things are gearing up to Christmas and Summer is finally here – for today anyway. Yesterday was rainy and the school picnic in the park was cancelled. But today is glorious. The kids are outside playing with water pistols. They’re alternating between good-natured fun, and fights over the ultimate war-crime: attacking during the opponents refill time.

Summer has me pining for days of old. Sitting in the shade, legs in the sun, drink in hand, talking nonsense. These days I’d rather switch the drink and talking for a book and silence, but washing needs folding and someones got to clean up the cat spew. I’ll have to settle with the fact that the kids are having fun, and that’s what counts.

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All in all, I’m having a better time than husband, who is still reeling from the rather traumatic removal of two wisdom teeth. Nearly two months on and he’s still having a rough time. He’s coping well, so long as we don’t make any sudden movements, stay out of his way, and avoid eye-contact.  Here’s hoping he’s better before Christmas, because I’ve got a big juicy steak to throw on the BBQ and it’s got his name on it.

Store Changes

Around this time last year, I made the change to Storenvy. They provided a free, clean, attractive store-front and and easy to use dashboard – and they still do. However, they have changed the way they process orders and their new credit card system is no longer available in New Zealand, my home country. After much deliberation, I have decided to head to Etsy.

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There are pros and cons to Etsy and it wasn’t an easy decision, but it makes sense, at least for now.  Etsy is by far the largest online market place for handmade goods, so either it will help me get some traffic, or I will be lost among the masses of competition. So far, I’ve had a boost in traffic, which is promising. The fees are small, but if I was to make high-quantity sales on a regular basis, I can see that they’d add up very quickly. I believe that Etsy will make my listings more accessible because so many people are already signed up. If you’re not, come along and explore – it really is a treasure trove of the beautiful, elegant, weird, creepy, quaint and insane. And be sure to favorite my store!

Etsy can get a bit weird, but that's why I like it.

Etsy can get a bit weird, but that’s why I like it.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.