Tuesday, 20 November 2012

More New Designs and a Christmas Craft Fair

Apologies once again for a long gap in between blogs - I've recently started a jewellery making diploma course at an academy in Hatton Garden and that, beading and working on my thesis corrections are swallowing up so much time right now, I so do not know where the last month has gone!

I promised another blog post about new designs after showing my Athena glass spike jewellery, so here are a few of the most recent additions to my online shops.

As another part of my 'Tiny Sparkler' range, I have added a few of these crystal flower necklaces. Made using an 8mm Swarovski crystal chaton stone, each features a bezelled and embellished crystal petalled flower and its own tiny beaded leaf. A few draped chain tassels and some more crystals add movement to the pendants. 

These little flowers really are tiny - the flower head measures just 2.5cm across; the entire pendant from top to bottom measures in at around 6.5cm, perfect if you want a necklace with some glitter but that you can wear both day-to-day and of an evening. I think I will have to make myself one of these - I have some purple chatons left so I think my flower will have one of those as a centre...although I do now need more tiny silver seed beads as I've used them up really quickly of late!

Inspired by the tiny leaves in these necklaces, I decided to try something using the same motif in cubic right angle weave, but bigger. I also wanted a design which would use up some of the many gorgeous Czech pressed glass flower beads that I seem to have built up in my bead stash! This leaf and flower cluster necklace was what I came up with; two beadwoven leaves and a central chain packed with glass flowers, pearls and crystals.

I've so far beaded this teal version, with emerald green leaves on a silver chain and also just finished a purple version with antique gold findings. There are plenty more flowers in my bead box so I am sure there are a few more of these necklaces to come!

All the beading I have been doing of late has been in preparation for the craft fair I am doing this Saturday (24th November). I did the same market last year and it was brilliantly organised, in a wonderful venue and I had a great day of talking to people about my work and sent a fair amount of sparkles off to new homes. I am hoping that this year will be just as good, if not better. 

The fair is the Made-It Market, being held at the Cambridge Guildhall. You can find all the details on their website here. A perfect place to start your Xmas shopping (or treat yourself!) - there are a whole host of stalls filled to the brim with fantastic handmade work. Perhaps I will see you there on Saturday!



Monday, 29 October 2012

The Jewels of Viridia @ the British Bead Awards

So in my last blog post I was able to announce that my entry had been selected as a finalist for the British Bead Awards 2012, run by Bead magazine. Well, last weekend was the Big Bead Show at Sandown racecourse...I spent my pennies (sticking to my list pretty much, I might add) on new beads for Christmas craft fair stock and came home with some gorgeous crystals and findings in different metallic shades.

My piece, entitled 'The Jewels of Viridia' was a finalist in the 'Crystals' category of the Bead Awards. There was some amazing work on display across all of the categories, and sadly my necklace did not win a prize in its category. Myself and my mum who had come along to the fair with me (and who bought some beads with which she would like me to make some jewellery for her!) had to leave before the end of the show since we had several hours travel on the train to get home and our feet were very tired. So it happened that we missed my name being announced at the show - my necklace had been voted 'Best in Show' by people who visited the bead fair! What a surprise, especially given the amazing talent and range of jewellery making styles on display on the finalists table. So thank you to whoever voted for me, your admiration of my work is greatly appreciated!

The show over I can now finally show you some pictures of my necklace. It was inspired by some amazing 'fine jewellery' - a diamond and emerald necklace which was part of the auction of Elizabeth Taylor's jewellery collection. I decided I wanted to create a piece that emulated 'fine jewellery' but in beadwork, with silver and emerald green as my colour theme. 'The Jewels of Viridia' is the result. 

The full necklace - there are over 300 Swarovski crystals in this piece, including bicones, chatons, octagons and that fabulous central teardop stone.

A close up of the pendant section

The beaded toggle clasp and beaded-bead 

I learnt a lot whilst beading this competition piece, and I've definitely got ideas about how to take some of the design ideas from it to make some smaller pieces too. This necklace is going to have pride of place on my craft fair stand this Christmas - hopefully it will draw people's attention with its sparkle.



Friday, 19 October 2012

We're going to a bead show!

It's that time of year once again. The end of October draws closer, and that means only one thing if you're a beader - the Big Bead Show at Sandown Racecourse! 

Like a lot of beaders, I do most of my supplies shopping online as although there is a bead shop fairly near me, it's only small and doesn't sell a lot of the beads I like to use in my work. The Big Bead Show is liking having at least 50 bead shops under the same roof, selling everything one could possibly want for creating all kinds and styles of jewellery. I've written myself a shopping list, since I'm building up stock for Christmas craft fairs, so I need a list to keep me focused on what I really need...but I'm sure I'll spot something not on the list that I just 'have' to have (fortunately it was my birthday earlier in the month so I have a reasonable kitty to help fund my purchases!)

I am also thrilled to announce that my entry into the British Bead Awards was selected as one of the finalists, so I will be hot-footing it to the show right from the start to attend the prize giving. The judges have already picked the winners, but they will be announced at the show - I am proud of my piece but I am going with no expectations, just with pride at having my work on display for all the visitors to the show to see. I am also looking forward to getting to meet some of the members of the online bead group OTTBS in person - including Dee of Wingsmith's Bead Creations, who has also made as a finalist for the awards. I'll let you know how I get on - and post pictures of my piece if you aren't going to be at Sandown on Saturday to see it in the flesh, when I return. I'll also probably have photos of my beady purchases to show you too!

For more info on the Big Bead Show, here's a link to their website.

I'll leave you with a picture of my latest new piece up for grabs in my shop - a gorgeous 'Starflower' bracelet in silver and violet, featuring glass pearls and one of my favourite seed bead shades, gold-lustered 'moonshadow' purple.

TTFN - and happy shopping if you are off to the fair on Saturday!


Monday, 15 October 2012

New designs - Czech glass spikes!

I've been really rather productive beading-wise the past few weeks. It has suddenly hit me just how not very far away the big craft fair I am doing in Cambridge is and how I really have to get a wriggle on with beading up enough stock to fill my table. This is especially important given that I also realised I booked a slightly bigger table than I had at the same event last year, so I definitely need to have more piece than I had then!

In an attempt to tackle this in an organised fashion, I spent a little bit of time trying out some new design ideas, before I put together a list of all the things I want to have made by the end of next month - a mix of old favourites and some of the new things I've come up with recently. I'll probably end up with several posts to show you these new designs (I've got 2 necklaces sitting on my display stand that need photographing). I already introduced the first pieces of my 'Tiny Sparkler' range and there are more variations and developments on that theme to come.

The first new designs I have to share use some new beads which have been exciting beaders worldwide - Czech pressed glass spikes! Very Mawi-esque, these beads come several sizes and a whole host of colours and finishes. I wanted to design at least one new bracelet/necklace which incorporated these beads. Starting with the idea of having a long chain necklace with a spiked pendant, my beading took a turn for something completely different, with one unexpected 'twist' of my beadwork. 

'Athena' is my first bracelet with glass spike beads, featuring 3 spike motifs joined together with beaded oval/diamond shaped links. The silver version below is my prototype - it is staying with me I think, although I have to make the links a little smaller than they are in this photo as I only have small wrists.

I have since created a second bracelet in jet black with silver embellishment, including some amazing fire polished crystals that have a 'marea' effect coating, meaning they have a fantastic firey gold flash. This one will go on sale in my online shops very soon - I'll come back to this post and link it to the listings once they are up. I think this one has a more rock chick feel to it with the colour palette used.

I also wanted a variation of this spike motif to use as a necklace pendant, and so added a little extra beadwork in order to turn it into a floral motif (albeit with a glass spike thorn as its centre!). My first 'Athena's Blossom' necklace - in the same jet black colourway as the above bracelet - is already available online. I am hoping to get my hands on some more spike colours soon so I can create a few more in different shades for you to choose from. I think I can turn this floral motif into a brooch too, so I might be able to bead a few of those too.

To view the online shop listing for this necklace, click on the image.

Hopefully there will be a nice day this week so I can get photographing some of the other new designs I have been working on. Hope you enjoy these new spiky creations!



Thursday, 11 October 2012

A Beady DIY Fashion Project - Embroidered Peter Pan Collar

The other week I went out clothes shopping - having been working from home on my PhD thesis since the beginning of this year, I have hardly bought any new clothes (you can get away with having few 'nice going out things' if you are at home most of the day and therefore don't mind if your jeans are looking a bit threadbare!) 

I'm not a huge fashion follower, I tend to buy things because I like them, not because they are this week's hot trend - however, I couldn't fail to notice that beading was everywhere on the high street, especially on collars. There were also plenty of necklaces to be worn as 'detachable collars' covered in beads, pearls and crystals (well, I don't think they were real crystals, but they were going for that effect). I thought some of them looked great from afar across the shop floor, until I actually got up close and was actually quite horrified at the poor quality; one collar had thread ends sticking up all over it (shop shall remain nameless) and looked like it might disintegrate at any moment - it was priced at £15! It makes me sad seeing things like this, especially being a part of the beading community and seeing all the beautiful beadwork and embroidery that is done 'properly' with so much effort put into it. 

So I decided to have a go at making my own, having wanted to do some proper bead embroidery, but not having had a project to get going. Fortunately, I had some interfacing as well as a big bag of silvery seed beads that aren't regularly shaped enough for beadwork, but had definite potential for embroidery. First off, I drew a peter pan collar shape (one side) on to my interfacing and cut it out. I then used this as a template to draw around so the other side of the collar would be the same shape. Fancying a little bit of bling, I hunted in my bead stash and found some pretty bright blue Swarovski flatback crystals, which I stuck to the interfacing and left to dry (and de-stink from the glue). 

Now for some embroidery! I started off by bezelling the crystals and then surrounding them with a ring of clear fire-polished crystals, and then moved on to adding the seed beads following the circular shapes of the crystals. 

I decided I wanted a few more different beads on the collar, rather than just doing all the rest of it with the seed beads, so I added some larger white pearl fire-polished crystals and embroidered round them to create something of a leafy/diamond shape around them. This is how the first half of the collar is currently looking.

There's not actually that much left to bead embroider - the seed beads I'm using are size 8s so they are fairly large and so cover the interfacing quite quickly. The challenge is going to be getting the other half of the collar to match! 

I'll be sure to update you on the blog once I've finished this DIY fashion project.



Friday, 28 September 2012

Introducing...the 'Tiny Sparkler' range

It's been a while since my last blog post - but now that I've finally submitted my PhD thesis, I have time to both bead and blog about it!

I love big, intricate, crystal-dripping beadwork. But it's not exactly practical, however gorgeous it looks, and you might get a few odd glances if you turned up at the office looking like you've bathed in Swarovski crystals. Hence why I always try and offer beadwork jewellery in my shops that captures the essence of this style of jewellery making, but is wearable day-to-day, as opposed to being 'saved' for a special occassion. With this in mind, I've started making a range of gemstone and crystal necklaces which I have christened 'tiny sparklers.' 

Each tiny sparkler features a bezelled and embellished semi-precious gemstone or Swarovski crystal, just enough glitter to keep your inner magpie happy, but not so dazzling that those around you need to don sunglasses. These pendants are only between 2 to 3cm across, so definitely deserving of the name 'tiny.' I think they would also make a wonderful bridesmaid necklace - they're completely customisable to match the colour scheme of your wedding and they would be a lovely gift to give them for being an important part of your special day. 

Expect to see plenty more, in an array of colours, but here's a look at the first few that have landed online in my Folksy shop in the past few weeks.

Rose Quartz with opalescent Swarovski crystals

Turquoise Cabochon with Swarovski crystals

Blue Goldstone

Aquamarine & Pacific Opal Swarovski crystals

I've got lots to blog about in the upcoming weeks - I've been beading like crazy now I've got the time and got several new designs to talk about, plus a few other things I can't say too much about just yet. Hope you've enjoyed a peek at the 'tiny sparkler' range.



Thursday, 12 July 2012

OTTBS Colour Challenge WIP

I finally got started on my Operation Tackle That Bead Stash monthly colour challenge piece last night. The theme this month is ice cream, so my entry has to be made in shades of cream, pink and brown. For an extra entry in the prize draw, it also has to incorporate flowers in it somewhere as well.

When I first saw the theme for this month, my initial reaction was - "I don't think I have any brown beads!" Well, I took a little time to rummage through all my bead boxes and lo and behold, I did have some brown beads (not a lot, but more than I thought!) as well as some cream and pink too. 

With the selection of beads and my disposal all collected together I decided I wanted to make something multi-stranded, and that I fancied using copper findings as opposed to my usual silver. Whether this piece will end up as a bracelet or necklace I'm not 100% sure, but here is what I had as of last night.

As you can see, I've got the required colours, plus some shell and polymer clay flower beads to cover the extra element of the challenge. I think I will get some more time on this piece this evening so I will see how it evolves - I am thinking of adding a beadwoven rope strand but I'm not sure which stitch I want to use.

I'll be sure to post a picture of the finished jewellery when I'm done. 


Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Evolution of the 'Halo'

In the relatively short time that I've been selling my beadwork jewellery, there is one design that has sold many times over; my 'Halo' necklaces. They've been through several evolutions and their basic design has been adapted, embellished and combined with other motifs to create a collection of work that shows the versatility of a peyote stitch beaded ring.

I learnt how to bead a peyote ring at a workshop using size 15 seed beads and size 11 cylinder beads, however, I wasn't overly keen on the 'flat' effect of the seed beads, so was tempted to try using normal size 11 round beads instead. I like the effect that using round seed beads has on the texture and shape of the ring, so I've carried on that way ever since.

The very first 'Halo' necklaces I created were a simple beaded ring, embellished around the outer edge with crystals, firepolished beads and even some small semi-precious stones, hung on a lightweight chain like the turquoise version below.

I still have the first 'Halo' like this that I made - mine is silver-grey with glass pearls and bicone crystals around the outside. I like the simplicity of the design in this way - whilst I love big, intricate beadwork designs, I think many people would feel they were 'difficult to wear on a day-to-day basis' and part of my aim for the jewellery I sell online is to make beadwork that is 'wearable' and could be worn to the office or out to the shops, rather than being 'saved for best.'

The next evolutionary step for the 'Halo' necklaces was that they gained a wire-wrapped chain tassel. I was given some fine chain that had come from a big lot of chain that the jewellery school I teach for freelance had been sent and was just too tiny to be used for the beginner's classes we teach. Searching for a way of using the chain, I decided to try adding a little to the bottom of a 'Halo' to add some extra movement and sparkle. The original chain I was given was silver-plated, but I liked the effect so ended up buying antique gold and gunmetal coloured chain and findings in order to provide a range of metal colours - not everyone is a 'silver-only' person like me!

I've tried numerous other things with the 'Halos' - I've joined them together in triplicate....

...used them with other motifs, as in my 'Aquila' necklaces....

...and even linked several together to create a bracelet...

I am sure I'll not stop using the 'Halo' motif in my beadwork for a while yet! I've listed several new variations recently, which incorporate new colours and a little bit of wirewok too. I am really proud of the latest few 'evolutions' of the Halo. If you click on the link you'll be taken to the shop listing for each necklace - as always, I am happy to take on custom orders and bead something in the style of what you see here (or indeed anywhere in my online shops) in your favourite colour palette. Each of these new necklaces has something special about them - I'll be sad to see them go when they find a new home.

'Amethystine' - this necklace features matching seed beads and Czech firepolished crystals which are amethyst with a delicious golden lustre and is hung on an antique bronze tone chain to compliment the gold-dust effect of the beads and the dark 'dorado' metallic gold Swarovski crystals.

'Moondust' - is another 'triple Halo' necklace which uses some unusual seed beads in the main ring - they are light sapphire blue lined with bronze, but they appear grey-ish with a blue 'flash' which is very reminiscent of the semi-precious stone labradorite. Embellished with grey lustered Czech crystals and 'white opal' Swarovski bicones.

'Woodland' - I think this one is my favourite of the new pieces (I'm allowed a favourite, right?). This necklace features a 'Halo' pendant embellished with two layers of tiny beaded leaves, as well as a row of 'olivine' and 'dorado' gold Swarovski crystals. It is hung on an antique gold chain which has had wire-wrapped crystals added to it, with a chain tassle at the bottom for extra sparkle and movement. I am sure I will be re-visiting this style of 'Halo' in a few more colours.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about how my 'Halo' pieces have changed and continue to grow - I pulled together a bunch of photos of the different varieties and colours I've created and formed them into this collage. I hope all those who have a 'Halo' love to wear it as much as I enjoy wearing mine, and making new ones!


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

New Swarovski 'Neon' Crystal Pearls

I love using Swarovski elements in my beadwork. Their crystal sparkle is second to none and their bicone beads come in a veritable rainbow of colours so you can always find the perfect match for your latest project. They are always launching new shapes, colours and styles and one of the most recent is their new range of crystal pearls in 'neon' colours.

Now, I can't say neon has ever particularly appealed to me - I think the only time I've worn anything neon probably involved fancy dress of some description! Nor am I usually a particular 'pink' person either - I'd go for purple over pink any day. However, on seeing photos of these new pearls online, the pink ones, for whatever reason, spoke to me. I decided to buy a small pack of 20 4mm pearls to try out to see if a) I liked them as much in real life as I did in the photos, and b) if  I could think of a way to use them in my beading!

When they arrived, I noticed that rather than being 'shimmery' pearls, they have a more 'matte' finish, which is actually rather nice - but yes, they are definitely as bright and vibrant as they look in photos! I decided to try a few out in one of my flower brooches, since I had some bright fuchsia pink seed beads I though might just give them a little run for their money in terms of the vibrancy of their colour. A little sprinkling of metallic silver, plus a crystal bicone in fuchsia ab2x at the centre, and this is the resulting brooch - seriously pink flower power indeed!

I definitely like these pink pearls - I'm not sure I'd be able to cope with the other two shades (they also do orange and yellow - and both those colours are rather out of my comfort zone) but the pink I like. I've still got 16 pearls left to play with - I think you might be able to expect a similarly funky bright Halo necklace to pop up in my shop soon!

This brooch is available online to buy - if you click on the photo it will take you to the listing for this brooch. If neons aren't your thing, there are several others available in slightly, erm, calmer colours?

Hope you like - perhaps the beaders out there might be inspired to give this new colours a try. Be brave and go neon!



Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Beading Book Love - Sabine Lippert's Beaded Fantasies

Having been beadweaving for about 5 years now, I have managed to accumulate my fair share of beading books. But if I asked myself of these books, how many of the projects within them I've actually sat down and beaded, well, the answer would be a number rather smaller than the number of books on my shelf! Not that I don't love these books - they've provided me with heaps of inspiration over the years, but often when there was the choice between following a project and trying to create something new myself, I have tended to go for the latter.

My recent book purchase of Sabine Lippert's hotly anticipated 'Beaded Fantasies' book has made me think about using some of my book collection to further my beady education. There are so many wonderful projects in Sabine's book it's hard to know where to start. Eventually, thought, I couldn't help but kick things off with the very popular 'Granada' brooch. I had to order a few supplies - for some reason I owned virtually no 6mm round beads (something which I have now ammended!), but then I was ready to get started. 

The thing about my own beading is that I often like to start flat - I find thinking in 3D in terms of beading difficult to get my head around. If my beadwork designs end up 3D, it is 9 times out of 10, a pure accident of the combination of beads I have used. Sabine's book has really helped me to start thinking more 3D and about layers too. When I was beading the Granada brooch I found a gap on one part that made me question if I was following the instructions right, only to realise that in the very next step, the beads added would come in to fill the gap. If I'd been trying to do that sort of thing by myself, I'd have seen the gap and though 'no, I'm on the wrong track here.' This is the good thing about working from the tutorials/instructions of someone else, it pushes your ideas and opens you up to new approaches.

So here's my version of the Granada brooch, beaded in my favourite 'Metallica' colourway as I have come to think of it. 

I am in love with this piece and Sabine's design - I can definitely see me making more of these (I'm sure if my Mum sees it she'll be wanting one!). 

The other project from the book that I've completed is the Scherezade pendant - a fab combination of RAW and netting. Again, this piece tested my ideas about construction and layers in 3D beading, and I love the result. 

I've worn this piece a few times - I've had it on a long chain with the chain just looped through the pendant with a larks head knot. It is very sparkly thanks to the silver and half coat vitrail firepolished crystals I used. I could see me making this design again, but perhaps a little smaller - you can see from my hand in this photo that this pendant is fairly big, and it definitely has some weight to it too.

I'm sure I'll be making many more things from this book and I'll of course share finished pictures here when I do. Next on my list are some of the designs which use 8mm Swarovski chatons!


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Beading for Me

So it's been a whole month since I wrote a post for the blog. The reason for this is that I'm currently in the midst of writing up my PhD thesis i.e. 4 years worth of work. I am my desk 6 out of 7 days a week, most of those working all day on it, and even when I do take a bit of time out of an evening or on a Sunday, it's still there on my mind pretty much 24/7. 

This means that beading has really taken a back seat in the last few months. Even when I have taken time to be creative, the stress of the thesis means that it's hard to focus and feeling like I *need* to create new pieces for my online shops is adding to the stress. Beading is something I love, and it is supposed to be fun and something to do to take my mind off things, as well as earning its keep through sales. 

So here's what I'm thinking - I need to do a little 'beading for me.' I still feel like I have plenty to learn about this art from those artists I admire. I have new techniques I want to try out without feeling the pressure of 'this needs to be good enough to be sold online.' Earlier in the year I wrote a post about how I wanted to make a piece from tutorials written by other beadwork artists, one a month, to expand my knowledge and inspire me. This didn't happen...well, I made 2/3 of one earring, because I have so little beading time that I felt that time spent beading other peoples' designs was my own beading time 'wasted.' 

The webshops will all remain open - I have pieces in stock that are already made, plus a few half-finished things currently on my bead mats and I'd also be happy to still take on custom orders. But, I'm not going to put myself under pressure to churn out beadwork purely for the shops. If I happen to have an idea and that ends up as a finished piece of my own design, then sure, it can go online, but that isn't going to be my main aim for the next few months at least whilst I get my thesis finished. I've just received a copy of Sabine Lippert's new book 'Beaded Fantasies' which is full of stunning projects that I really want to try. I really like her style and I want to take a little 'walk in her shoes' beading wise. I've got some supplies on order to do a few of the projects - including some gorgeous Swarovski crystal stones, and I can't wait to get started.

I'll endeavour to update the blog with what I'm beading - plus if any new work goes up for sale, I'll let you know. I've included a few pieces I've listed in the last week or so at the bottom of this post. 

 Jet Black Swarovski Crystal 'Halo' Necklace

Blue Flower Brooch

 Teal Swarovski Crystal 'Halo' Necklace

But this beader is taking a little bit of me time for now.

That's all for this post.


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

BTW - What's On My Bead Mat, 4th April 2012

I've missed a few weeks worth of bead table Wednesday's recently. This has been because I was working on a couple of custom orders for people to give as gifts and when I am working bespoke I don't like to show photos of what I am doing until the jewellery has reached its intended recipient - I would hate to spoil someone's surprise gift by posting a photo of it. 

But now those custom pieces are done, this week there are lots of bits and pieces in the making crowded onto on one of my smaller beading mats.

Some very different things going on on this mat! There's some purple and silver seed beads, flowers and crystals which are leftovers from a custom bracelet I recently finished that are yet to find their way back into their storage bags. There's also in the top-middle area, a very teeny little crystal tester that didn't really go anywhere...that'll probably find itself getting unpicked.

In the top left corner of the mat is one of my new designs, the 'Gazania' flower motif, beaded using silver seed beads and a mixture of turquoise coloured Czech fire-polished crystals. This just needs to go onto a necklace chain now, so expect to see it popping up in my online shop very soon.

On the right hand side of the mat is another design I am playing around with. I love the colour combo of these beautiful cobalt blue crystal rondelles with these seed beads. They might look gold in this photo, but they are actually crystal coloured with a copper lining. I absolutely LOVE them - they have an amazing twinkle to them which is not captured in this photograph. If I end up with a finished piece from this tester I hope I will be able to show just how lovely those seed beads are.

So that's what is sitting on my bead mat at the moment...here's hoping some of the ideas actually make it into finished jewellery designs!


Monday, 27 February 2012

New Range - Beadwoven Crystal Bracelet Charms

Yes, after a little wait for the Sterling Silver findings to arrive, I listed the first of my new range of beadwoven charms for charm bracelets over the weekend. 

The challenge with these little sparklies is trying to keep them to 2cm or less in size (otherwise they'd be larger than most other charms available for this style of bracelet - I did my research of well known brands and 2cm is the biggest they seem to get). The first couple that I made use Swarovski crystals that are 8mm in diameter, which is pretty small - the beadwoven setting is surprisingly time consuming to stitch in contrast to its size, because great care is needed to ensure the stone is securely captured in such a small bezel.

I created a 'stunt' charm bracelet to use when photographing these charms as I don't own one of these bracelets myself; I suspect this may change soon since I would love to have my own packed full of these charms. They've also proved a challenge to photograph due to the crystal sparkle and the metallic silver seed beads used. 

The first one is now up on Folksy - featuring a gorgeous 'montana' blue Swarovski stone in its centre. You can click on the photo of it below to be taken to its listing in my Folksy shop.

I'll be listing the other crystal centre charm (the 'flower' one in the first picture) shortly. This weekend I remembered I had some tiny semi-precious gemstone cabochons in my bead stash and I've now completed two more charms; one using turquoise & Swarovski, the other rose quartz. They'll be going online too once they've been photographed. 

I am always happy to take on custom orders - if there is a particular colour of crystal or semi-precious stone you would like a charm created with, please get in touch.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

BTW - What's on my Bead Mat....22nd Feb 2012

Why is it that lately whenever Bead Table Wednesday comes around, it is always a grey, rainy day i.e. rubbish for trying to take photos of beadwork! Today is no exception, however, I took the opportunity to play about with some of the fun effects my image software has to offer and so what initially looked like really rather bad pictures are now looking quite fun and colourful. 

A wide shot of the bead mat I've been working off of this week - lots of gunmetal grey & metallic purple seed beads, plus purple glass pearls.

So in this corner of the bead mat is another of my teeny tiny beadwoven charms awaiting the last thread end to be woven in. This one has been beaded around a tiny Swarovski rivoli stone in (colour = crystal) and embellished with galvanised silver delicas and seed beads. I've had the email to say my Sterling Silver findings are on their way, so the charms should be making an appearance online very soon.

In the other corner, I started working on another necklace like the one in my last blog post which I created for the OTTBS February colour challenge. I decided I wanted to keep the original for myself, but I really like the design so I'm now making this gunmetal and metallic purple version for the shop. I'm thinking of doing one in bright metallic silver too. 

I've also added several new pairs of very glamourous, sparkly 'Halo' earrings to my Folksy shop in the last few days; one pair in classic jet black, the other, bright summery turquoise. 

Hope you've enjoyed this week's bead table Wednesday - fingers crossed for better photograph taking weather next week though, eh?


Monday, 20 February 2012

Operation Tackle That Bead Stash - February Challenge Piece

I recently joined the Operation Tackle That Bead Stash (or OTTBS for short) group over on Facebook; a very active group of like minded jewellery makers sharing their creations, beady purchases & general chitter chatter. Each month there is a colour challenge run on their blog, with the aim of getting people to use up some of their 'stash' - because all beaders have a LOT of beads! 

This month's challenge is to create something in blue and green - with a bonus entry into the challenge prize draw if you also incorporate 'rounds' into your design. 

For my piece I decided I wanted to combine two of my favourite motifs - my peyote ring 'Halo' and my newer 'Starflower.' I picked out seed beads in teal and metallic blue (normally I'd have picked crystal beads to go with the teal, but as I was sticking to the challenge colours I opted for the blue and I love how this changes the whole feel of the piece). I added in glass pearls in bright teal green and deep petrol blue as my accent beads.

My 'Starflower' motif ended up looking quite different because I had decided I wanted it to link to a halo on either side and have a chain tassle - from the thread tension it is now a distinctly triangular shape...one of those 'happy accidents' that gives you new ideas you hadn't even thought about. When I finished it I thought it looked like a little embellished shield. 

Here's a few pictures of the finished necklace - ordinarily I'd have used bright silver findings, but the darker feel of the beadwork had me reaching for my gunmetal coloured findings instead. This piece is going to be mine to keep - I very rarely keep anything for myself these days so I thought it was about time I had a new piece for my own. I definitely think I'll be making a few to go in my online shops though.

One thing this necklace design doesn't have though is a name. At first I thought it might need a 'warrior queen' esqe name, since the central motif reminded me of a shield. Having photographed the piece however, it also reminds me of a bird spreading its wings in flight. Any suggestions?

If you'd like to know more about the OTTBS group and this month's challenge, their blog can be found here.


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

BTW - What's On My Bead Mat, 15th Feb 2012

I really must make the effort to blog more than just bead table Wednesdays! I always say I will plan ahead and schedule posts, but this rarely happens...too much on my plate at the moment, beady and otherwise. 

Apologies for the rubbish photos today - it's horribly grey and dreary here in Cambridge today so the natural light was pretty much non-existent...not the best thing when you want to take pictures of something sparkly!

I came about the idea of making beadwoven charms for charm bracelets (which seem to be very popular at the moment) after a friend suggested a charm bracelet as a leaving present for another friend who is off on an exciting new job adventure for 6 months, and that everyone could get a charm to put on it to remind her of us. Well, I thought I would best remind her of me if I made a charm myself, so I rooted around in the sparkly section of my bead boxes and found a gorgeous tanzanite purple Swarovski rivoli. Size was a key factor as I'd looked online at some of the other charms my friends were planning on buying and realised my finished piece couldn't be any bigger than 2cm! Fortunately the tiny rivoli I had proved to be just the right size and I was really pleased with the finished result - and, since have several more rivolis in this size that I bought for a different idea that didn't work out, I have decided to make some to try selling in my online shops. Today's bead table Wednesday photo shows last night's first attempt at making another - this time with a rivoli in a beautiful 'montana' blue.

I've added a little more embellishment around the crystal itself on this latest version and I'm trying to decide which I prefer. Here's a quick snapshot I took of the first one before it went off to join the other charms on the bracelet.

Once I've thought about which style I like best, all I need to wait for is the Sterling Silver clasps and jump rings I've got on order so they can be attached to a charm bracelet, and they will be available online. The rivolis used come in all sorts of colours, so they could be completely customisable if you wanted to give one as a gift - perhaps a birthstone colour for a birthday present?

Hope you enjoyed this week's bead table Wednesday - I am still working on the necklace I showed last week but I haven't got much further with it so I decided to show you these new charms this week instead!