Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Beadwork To Be Proud Of

For the past few weeks I have been quietly beavering away on my biggest beadweaving project to date. At a rough estimate, at the very least 20hrs of beading went into this necklace...probably more as I haven't accurately recorded all the time I spent in the evenings after work and on weekends when I had time to spare. Add to that 1000s of seed beads, over 200 Swarovski crystals (including 3 gorgeously sparkly crystal rivolis, to which I am now hopelessly addicted!) and a whole lot of patience.

I have learnt a lot in developing this design from an original rough sketch into the finished article - and if I make another I will certainly do a few things differently (namely to attach my linking loops BEFORE adding any embellishment - this took me hours just to add a few loops on to each flower because it was so difficult to stitch back into the beadwork with the magatamas and crystals included). I am hoping I can make a few slightly less labour intensive pieces based on this work, so if nothing else, it has been a big challenge and learning experience for me as a beader.

I hereby present, Flora Metallica.

However, this piece is also a competition entry. E-beads, is hosting the competition in conjunction with Swarovski, and the task was to create a piece featuring Swarovski crystallised elements which embodied the theme 'Urban Beautiful.' My necklace features beadwoven flower motifs with an urban edge. My colour palette of dark metallic gunmetal grey and metallic purple was chosen to reflect a city landscape. And of course, the sparkle of the Swarovski crystals was intended to help with the 'beautiful' side of the theme.

If you like my work and would like to vote to help it progress to the judging stage, the link to the entries gallery is here. You may have to flick through a few pages to find Flora Metallica depending on how many entries have been added since this post was published (it was at the top of page 2 last time I checked). There are 3 voting buttons, 'good effort,' 'like,' and 'love.' Each button gives a different number of rating points - good effort = 1 point, like = 2 points and love = 3 points. Obviously I would love it if you'd click 'love' for my entry...but feel free to peruse the rest of the work and vote for some of the other very impressive pieces on show. Your support will be very much appreciated!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Laura McCabe Locket Necklace Workshop

I've been beadweaving for about 3 years or so now (I think!) but up until last week I had never attended a class on the subject. I've been to workshops on silversmithing, art clay silver and other crafty subject, but everything I know about beadweaving I've learnt from books and magazines. So, when I saw that the fabulously talented Laura McCabe was going to be doing some classes at Stitchncraft, I knew I had to book myself a chance to learn from someone who's skill I admire greatly.

It was a bit hit and miss as to whether I would make it to the workshop at all, after being struck down with a horrid cold the weekend before and being sat in my PJs feeling rotten, hoping it would have gone away enough by Wednesday. Fortunately, despite having to get up at 5:45am (shudder) in order to make my 7:10am train down to Dorset from London Waterloo, I felt a lot better and enjoyed a nice train journey to Gillingham, where I then got a taxi with a very helpful lady driver to the Stitchncraft bead shop. Stitchncraft is a lovely shop and venue (if only it was closer to London!) and I was welcomed in and given a much needed cup of tea as I sat down ready for the class to begin. Laura had kits for sale for the necklace project we were going to be working on in two gorgeous different jewel tone colourways, but since my student bank balance couldn't stretch to that, I'd come up with enough beads from my own stash to work in my own silver and blue colourway.

Apologies for the lack of photos on the day - I was just too engrossed in beading! I have included some quick snaps of my finished locket though, and rest assured there will be pics of the finished project too.

Laura is a really great teacher and we were soon all beading away following her printed instructions with her on hand to help if we got stuck anywhere. We were all hoping we would get to finish at least one locket component in the workshop time so we'd have all the knowledge to work on finishing a whole necklace in our own time. The locket construction is very clever and mixes stitches in a way I'd never have come up with myself. It also features Laura's trademark bezelling of a crystal rivoli, which I'd done before from her fantastic crystal jewellery book.

Time went way too quickly and it was soon time to have some lunch and a stretch. I took the opportunity to have a look around the shop (though I was very restrained not to buy any more beads!) and to admire the lovely beadwork which was on display on the walls in the workshop room as well as the stunning finished pieces that Laura had brought with her. Lunch over it was then time to cram in another couple of hours beading to get the locket embellished and with its pearl and loop closure on before it was time to go home.

With the sun shining it was time to say goodbye (and get a big hug from Laura!) and start my return journey home. I got back to my flat at 8pm tired and hungry, but happy and extremely glad I'd had the opportunity to go on this course. Now all I have to is find the time to make 8 more lockets to create a whole necklace!