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.