Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Damsel Dragon Corrections

Two mistakes were found in my Damsel Dragon tutorial by a sweet and helpful buyer.  I have corrected my tutorial and reprinted the final three cds.

The mistakes are below, both on Page 9, which I must admit gave me all sorts of trouble in general!


Page 9, second paragraph of just one sentence in bold should say:

Stitch the Scale Sequence on page 7 (rows 1-16) a total of seven (7) times.

Unfortunately, my text says "page 5". The Scale Sequence chart appears on page seven and is diagrammed on page 8.


Page 9, bottom of the page, left column, should say:

Row 10 - E(cc), E(dS), E(aa), E(bb). Step up.

The letters in parentheses are the beads you pass through to get to the next addition, and I mistakenly suggested some beads that were not available for the last two pass throughs. (ab) and (bc).

I took time to re-read the entire document (for what feels like the gazallion-th time :), and I HOPE there are no more mistakes, but should you find one, please let me know!

Happy Holidays, and wishing you a Bead-Filled and Joyful New Year!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Goal is a Dream with a Deadline

I should begin by crediting Napoleon Hill for the title.  They are his words.

Well, I did it.  I was afraid to voice my New Years resolution for 2015, because I has doubting both my ability, and my willingness to devote the time and money to learning to illustrate. But I did it!

See??  Diagrams and everything!!

Kassie Shaw Inman showed me the way.  Kassie, author Beadweaving Beyond the Basics, has written a tutorial teaching the use of Microsoft Word to create beadwork diagrams.  If you have ever considered learning to work with vector graphics, but were hesitant to commit to paying Adobe a monthly fee of $19 for the rest of your life for the pleasure of working with Illustrator, (a daunting thought to a 62 year old hoping to retire sometime soon) this tutorial might just be for you.

Kassie's tutorial is written specifically for Microsoft Word, but I applied her information to Apple Pages with reasonably good results.  Her ease and relaxed confidence is infectious.  Whenever I could not find a way to solve a problem, I went back and watched the tutorial again, sometimes only for a few minutes, and with her encouraging attitude in my head, went back and FOUND A WAY.  I highly recommend this tutorial.  And Kassie, for that matter, because her simple, Can-Do attitude is an anodyne for all things on which you think it might be best to give up.

And before I leave this topic, Cynthia Newcomer Daniel has an equally fine tutorial introducing the basics of Adobe Illustrator for beady purposes.  But I just could not make a commitment to the monthly "membership".  Plus, I bought a fancy pants Mac Book Pro, and I am trying to make it earn its keep.

I also used Pages for layout, instead of Adobe Publisher, (thus avoiding another monthly fee) and while it was not without its problems, I conquered enough of them to manage to mostly get it to do what I wanted.  One Apple Genius suggested that I plan better before starting the document, when I went in for help with why the document parts jumped freely from section to section without my permission.  I am really proud that the guy is still alive.  I did try to explain that it is hard to know if you are going to need an explanatory image to go with your words until on second final edit, when it seems clear.  I have just one word of advice.  LOCK.  "Stay on page" and "no text wrap" although important, are not sufficient to the task.

Also in Pages, when starting your document Begin with a NEW DOCUMENT, and in the file menu, before you do ANYTHING, "Convert to Page Layout".  Put all your text in text blocks and size them to the size of your text.  Otherwise, things jump about at will.

SO, here it is!

And it has a friend too...

And as you can see, while I was having the tutorial experience, I thought I would also try making a kit.  And that was a VERY BIG learning experience too.

You can see this tutorial in my Etsy shop.  The 12 Volcano kits sold out, although I have more dragon scale beads on order that will enable me to create one final kit in that colorway.  There are still a few Chili Pepper kits to be sold. and the listing is HERE.  (Note: these kits sold out fairly quickly, but I am working on a new set of Volcano ones for late this year, 2016)

I am so deeply thankful for the support for these, my first kits.  If you purchased one, THANK YOU! Please let me know if you have any problems or questions, and show me how it turned out when you are finished.

Note the publication date.  December 10, 2015.  I think a 2015 resolution needs a 2015 deadline, and I think I sneaked in under the wire.  :)  Dream fulfilled!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Spiral Chenille Rope

Since mid-August, I have been working on producing my first tutorial.  This has been an amazing journey.  In the process, I have woven thirteen different necklaces, in varying degrees of difficulty.  I can show you a few of them now, because I have published that FIRST TUTORIAL!!  Meet base 8, four color Chenille Spiral Rope!  You can find it in my Etsy shop here!

For those who have purchased the tutorial, I have done a re-write, which I hope clarifies and better organizes my ideas.  I have also added a chart and pictures for 6 base spiral rope worked over a smaller cord.  If you would like a copy of the edited version, send me a convo with your order number and e-mail addy and I will send the new version along!!  Being a first timer, I am still working actively on improving my presentation.

The others you have to wait a bit to see.

All these pieces are based on a design principle.  Maybe I should explain that first.  There are elements of design, right?  Most of us are familiar with color, texture, line, shape, space, light, movement... the list varies depending on who you are talking to, and what they design.  But then there are also principles.  Principles are ways to manipulate the elements.  That list would include harmony, repetition, transition, scale, proportion... I name just a few, and again, it depends on who you ask, how many there might be.

One of my favorite principles, always on my mind when I design, is gradation. It is gradation I am using primarily in this collection, if you want to think in terms of fashion.  You could call it a series, if you wanted to be more arty.

As I work to assemble my ideas into print and picture and diagram, the questions are many!  How to communicate, and then, how much information should be presented at once, to challenge a learner, without overwhelming.  How do I teach a project, AND a technique, AND a design principle, all at once without confusion, and especially, without needless words.   I just love to write.  Can you tell?  I'll show you another picture, just to break up the monotony of my jibber-jabber.

When I started beading, I took several classes.  When I took my first class, I had seen "500 Beaded Objects" and I wanted to learn how to do what the artists in the book had done.  I didn't want to make anything they had made particularly, I just wanted to DO THAT THING!

Technique was given for each project in the book, and peyote stitch was the most common.  So I found a bead shop, teaching a class using peyote stitch.  I didn't really want to make the project.  I just wanted the stitch. SO, I made the project to learn the stitch.  And then I learned Russian Spiral Weave,  RAW, Herringbone, and Spiral Stitch, some beaded beads...  There was a Brick Stitch class, but it never fit into my schedule, and that has always been my weak spot.  Sheesh.

Even now, when I choose a class, I choose it to learn a technique, or sometimes, to see how a designer's mind, (or hand) works.  I mostly could not care less about the project, but it helps to sell me on the class if it's appealing.

Time for another picture?  Here's how I finished one of the ropes, with a lampwork bead by Jeff Barber. That bead suggested the colorway.

But I don't think I am your average bear.  I think people who buy tutorials and take classes, mostly want to make the project.  Nothing wrong with that!  But for someone like me, its a bit daunting.

I bet you see my dilemma.  I have been a teacher.  I taught costume design and stage makeup at Purdue University.  I taught ballroom dance to groups and individuals for the Arthur Murray franchise.  Certainly I used projects, (or a syllabus of steps for the dancers) to teach my subject.  But it was never ONLY the project or the step that was the lesson.  It was design, or the dancing I was teaching, not the project, or the step.  And the advantage I had was, I was there, in person.  And when the eyes glazed over, or the going got too rough, I could SEE when to back off.  I could see how to customize the message for the recipient.

SO... This first tutorial, is principally a technique tutorial.  I have charted, photographed and even... illustrated! a way to make Chenille stitch create a wonderful spiral, using four gradating colors, with a handy chevron reversal at the mid point.  And then, I tried to throw in a little lesson about gradation, and how to maximize the look of the spiral with gradation.  If you have read the tutorial, I would love feedback.  Was that part a waste of your printer ink, or did you feel better prepared to create your own colorway?

I also assembled samples with charts of four other possible spirals in 8 base Chenille stitch.  I can think of some more, but I imagine if you work through all of my charts, you will be able to as well.

One uses gradation,  the same principle I explained in my tutorial.  The other two use different principles (contrast, sequence) and more elements, (texture, light) to accomplish their effects. I didn't talk about that.  Hopefully, with experience and feedback, I can improve and more effectively target what I present.

For my next effort, I will present a project, and create a kit.  Meet Spiral Damsel Dragon.

I have been honored by the support I have received on Facebook and in my Etsy shop for my first effort, and I look forward to trying a first kit experience.  Thanks for reading, and and to each of you who are trying my spiral rope tutorial.  Please feel free to offer advice and opinions. I have already edited my text twice, to try to clarify improve it,  and I value your input, as I try to become adept at passing along my ideas and designs.  The beady world is such a lovely place to try fledgling flight!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Playing with Trinity Beads

When I visited Steven Weiss and his Beadsmith booth  at the Bead & Button Show, he handed me a few samples of new beads. I admit, I am a traditionalist, and have not messed with many of the new shapes.  But, I finally had time to play with some of them over the last couple weeks.  I have three bracelets to show you, the results of that play.

First, here's the Trinity Bead.  It is a sleek meld of three beads, about equivalent to size 6/0, laid flat, side by side.  I understand there is an infinity bead that is just two lobes, similarly positioned.  And I have a mini version of the Trinity, that looks like an 8/0 size to me.  I have plans for that too, but not enough time yet.

I felt the trick to working with these beads would be in keeping them from becoming rigid when stitching them together. What could be more rigid, strong, inflexible, and structurally stable than a triangle? I fiddled with my needle and thread for a while, and found a happy combination that was very flexible and created my Squiggle Berry Bracelet first.

I used the beads diagonally.  Here's a picture of the back of the work. See the layout?  Reminds me of a bicycle chain a bit.  I LOVED the O-beads with Trinities, and used them in each of my projects.

I was really pleased with the flexibility of my weaving, both in terms of wrapping around a wrist comfortably, like little hinges...

...and in terms of flexing side to side in movement.  I could even curl it into a circle.

I have been toying with the idea of writing tutorials for real, and of course, this is the first thing I try to imagine illustrating.  Holy freaking cow! Anyhow, I liked this, but I didn't just love it.  And I had just one tiny tube of these little Trinity goodies, so I cut Squiggle Berry apart and played again. Result, being, Big Top Bracelet.

I thought the shiny color-shifting Pyramid Beads, would be nice with the Matte Lava Trinities.  It reminded me of the "When I grow old, I shall wear purple..." poem.  Would this not be great with a red hat??

I took a few pictures as a started, but got bored with it, as soon as I made a mistake and had to rip it all back and start over, so I didn't finish.  But the pix I took would let you see the construction, so here they are.  But remember, I MADE A MISTAKE!  Don't make the same one yourself.  Oh, and I happen to really like working with two needles and this complicates everything visually.  But still, I think the images are valuable, and would help me remember what I did, so here goes, with brief instructive words to accompany them. I put on my clasp first.

I turned it over and put 11/0 seeds and O-bead washers on each needle, and then a Pyramid.   Distracted by taking pictures, I forgot to put O-bead washer on the far side as I set up the first Trinity, using two bottom holes.  Do not make my mistake.  :)  (Enlarged the photo an noted the mistake)

I put a picot of O-bead, 15/0 seed, 11/0 seed, 15/0 seed, big drop (3.4mm I think), 15/0, 11/0/ 15/0. and an O-bead on my near side needle and a second Trinity on the far side.

I put the near needle through the far side, and went all the way back to the clasp.  Then I clamped that thread, and tucked the needle into the far left corner of my mat, saving it there for later.

I ran the far needle through the near picot, ran back into the clasp, and came back out on the far side, and through the pyramid.

I ran the far thread up to the O-bead and stepped out, adding a picot, sans the first O-bead washer.  That thread then went through the far side second hole in the second Trinity.

Then to proceed with each additional component, add a Trinity, the O-bead bracketed picot above, and another Trinity, not on my needle, sadly. you can put the needle in any hole of the Trinity beads on this step, but when you draw them up, you must align them correctly.

Finally, string and stitch the far picot, and string the next building side. O-bead, Trinity, O-bead bracketed picot series, and another Trinity.  That series, is the basis of the first necklace, and in Big Top, it is interrupted by Pyramid beads every four Trinities.  And the second needle?  It sneaks back into the fray and creates the upper picot series, just like the lower one, but with the smaller drop beads. Not a tutorial, by any means, but hopefully you get the general idea!  :)

So here is the backside of Big Top, with the structure very visible. You have my permission to play with my idea if you like. Each time I add a Pyramid, I must compensate for the diagonal placement of the Trinity Beads. as I do at the beginning to set up the first one.

I took this one apart too.  I have this tunic with the red of these Trinities in it, and I wanted to make something fun to wear with it.  Could have been Big Top, but the tunic also has olive green, and no blue,  so snip snip!! Another challenge I gave myself was to use each and every Trinity bead in my work.  Just because.   Here is the result.  I call it Tribal.  Or maybe TriBal.

In order to use ALL the beads, I had to make a pair of earrings.  Handy that there were four Trinities left over!  Here's a picture that really illustrates the flexibility of this weave, plus shows you the variation of the structure that I employed.

In this weave, I alternate the Trinity beads, instead of using them diagonally.  It feels very snakey, and I love it.  It also employs some mini super duos, which you can see on the back side in these images.

I shot some of these images on the tunic itself, to let you see the color in it.

This structure reminds me of a conveyor belt, or maybe escalator treads.  SO supple!

Still two layers of structure in the work, and still, picots as a means to get from one place to another.  I really wanted to fill ALL the holes with my work too!

Happy with the earrings too!   I have a necklace plan, but it may have to wait a few weeks until I am back from a little trip to Seattle to accompany our baby as he drives across country to his first job at Amazon.  See you all later, 'gators!!

Ha!  As it turned out, I beaded that necklace instead of packing!!!  I told you I designed the Tribal set for a specific tunic top, which is from Art of Cloth, an addictive designer I love.  I try to buy one item, ON SALE, from each season.  This was last fall.

And here is the necklace.

Which features Triangle beads, (like O-beads, but unsurprisingly, triangular) and mini duos.  Plus some funky spikes I bought at my LBS.

Plus Swarovski Pearls, Miyuki 24k Green Gold delicas, 24k gold seeds, and a black onyx cab.

OK, this last bit was posted from the road on some pretty decent hotel wifi!  Hugs to all!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I think I should explain a few things.  Visual things. And I have one picture to help with that.

Actually, my 3rd round picture is a collage of two images, so I am going to use both of those images separately for discussion purposes.

What are you seeing here?  Do you notice a freaky similarity between the garment under the coat and the beadwork design on the coat?  Very similar, but not precisely the same?

The process I have been exploring for my dense bead embroidery on fabric involves stabilizing the area I want to bead.  Usually, bead embroidery is done on stiff interfacing, like Lacy's Stiff Stuff, Nicole's Bead Backing, or simple Pellon. But I want my clothing to be supple and comfortable, so I really don't want to wear pellon. Bead embroidery can also be done on leather, but I don't really want to make (or wear) leather clothing either. And yet, I need to keep the garment fabric from puckering, bagging, and sagging from my thread tension and the weight of the beads.

My solution to the problem is to applique fabric to the garment where I want to bead embroider.  This stiffens the fabric to be embroidered in three ways.  First, I adhere the applique fabric to fusible web. The web has a little stiffness, and keeps the cut edges from unraveling.  Second I fuse the applique fabric to my garment, and the applied layer of fabric adds another layer of stiffness.  Then I machine stitch all the applique edges, adding one final bit of structure and support.

SO... what you are seeing in this image, is a small piece of the print Lycra I used as applique, made into a swimsuit, next to the final beadwork.  As you might also be able to see, I have adapted the print to my purposes.  I have scaled down the imagery to work on my coat, by cutting the design apart and re-assembling it in the size I need to suit my lapels.  I have eliminated the gold and black from the print, in the interest of it NOT looking like gaudy swimwear, and to create believability as casual and formal wear. I have softened the vibrant colors through bead choices, and with my permanent magic markers, keeping the essence of the fabric colors intact, but adapting hues and values to my own purposes.  Plus I have used only some of the imagery in the fabric, and selected out other parts.  I kept some components almost exactly as they were, particularly the philodendron leaves, but scaled them all down at their edges, as the beadwork "gains weight" when I bead the outline.

Then, there is the other image.  Which I think will be left small.

Sadly, that is me.  Not my beautiful model/photographer.  I suppose there is something to be said for truth.  Two truths are, I unexpectedly ran out of photography funding, and I have a 62 year old body. Not exactly an image my aesthetic might have dictated, but such is life, and truth is a good thing.

Fortunately, my next image, should I miraculously advance to round 4, does not involve a model. I could not bring myself to have stitched together that bathing suit for naught tho...  And I do think the jacket might make a good Minnesotan beach coverup, even worn over thighs you might prefer to see only in shadow.

I want to offer a huge thank you to my photographer friend Pam who both took these photos and who let me use her beautiful pool! Sometimes, you just have to smile, and march down the path, wherever your own Safari takes you.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

...and it was FUN!

Battle of the Beadsmith 2015 is underway! And I have done something completely different this year.  Below are my efforts in 2012, 2013, and 2014... Ghosts of Battles Past.

But this year... I made something unusual.  Meet my Urban Safari Coat!

When I started beading, I consciously tried to keep my beadwork out of my costume design studio.  Because, I beading is fun for me, and I didn't want it to distract me from my work.

And then I thought, "Why?" I have some self discipline.  So I began experimenting.  Maybe some other day, I'll show you the progression of garments that followed.  But for now...

This coat was fun, even under the pressure of a time deadline for the Battle of the Beadsmith. Maybe a little exhausting on the tails of Bead Dreams... And while it is not perfect, I don't think the flaws are in the beadwork. It's a challenge to get dense bead embroidery on fabric to lie perfectly flat and not pucker the material around it.  But I feel like I got that part right.  I didn't put much effort into the garment design and layout, and could have done more.   But even so, the project was fun, and soothing in the hypnotic, meditative way of bead embroidery!

I asked Jana Rose if I could hire her to help me with my photography, and she said yes.  I got to hold her huge camera and open the shutter.  And even THAT was FUN! Although my arms knew for sure, after a couple hours, that the camera was really big.  So... BIG fun!  :)

It was fun in the shade of city buildings... and fun in the setting sun at the park.

AND it was sneaky fun by a mud puddle!

 You have seen it on the hunt in a city street, and on a walk in the park.  I hope to have an opportunity to share all the things I think this coat can be with you... a cocktail party accessory, an evening jacket over a formal gown, a bathing suit coverup on the beach, a blazer worn with a briefcase on an office executive with panache, maybe an Asian look (it has a kimono quality, I think), and maybe even as a robe or bed jacket.  

Tantalizing fun for me!  I plan to do more for sure.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

Briar Rose

I am proud to present my 2015 Bead Dreams entry, "Briar Rose" and happy to edit my post to announce that it placed first in Ms. Maddie's Fabulous Florals.  This category honors Merle Berelowitz, and is generously sponsored by her family and CJS Sales, specialists in vintage jewelry supplies in NYC.

I did not know Merle Berelowitz, but I believe I share a love of all things floral with her.  I hope her family finds the amazing collection of works presented in her memorial category pleasing.

My entry was the result of several ideas. First, I planted a new succulent ground cover in my garden last summer and the sweet, prickly little thing was happy enough in its new spot to bloom. The flower had a flat brown face, and five pointy golden petals that curled away.  I loved it!

The basic shape of my rose components, and the idea of thorns came from this adorable plant.  I started with three 35mm cathedral jewels, which appealed because of the Pantone color of the year for 2015, Marsala.

Then I fiddled with various petals.

And finally created some I liked, and tested colors and application.

Then, I played with leaves, thinking spike-y, and rose-like.

Which were created from long oval Swarovski jewels and diagonal peyote.

Once I had leaves and flowers, I wanted to further pursue the bas relief branch technique I created last year for "Ka-Bloom", which involved couching satin cord to bead backing and beading over it.

But this time, I wanted to make thorny vines.  I sketched, trying to create a sort of dangerous looking growth of rose vines, that might have served as protection for "Briar Rose" herself, (aka Sleeping Beauty) as she lay sleeping in her castle, awaiting her true loves kiss.

I carefully plotted leaf and thorn placement, and then, began beading away... 

But I struggled with color, and made THREE versions before I could decide which I preferred.  Jeez. For what this is worth, I don't find using color challenging.  I have a pretty good idea of what I want.  It's getting the combination of beads, thread and backing that will produce that result that is hard!

 Reject #1
Reject #2
Until finally... I found a combination I liked!

Pretty happy with my little clasp too.

Surprisingly, it seems I took no picture of the backside, always a point of pride for me.

But I quietly begin to wonder.  Why do I work so hard at this?  Particularly when what I make seems somehow not to belong to me, but instead to those who would show it, if they choose?  Or to those who would see it, but only when they are ready, and on their terms.  Some little thing in my heart is broken, and I hope I can mend it.  I think my competition days might be drawing to a close.

I wrote the above paragraph on a difficult day.  I leave it here because I imagine I will need to be reminded of how I felt on some other day, when I am doubting myself and others.  I participate in competitive beading because I find it pushes me to reach for MORE in every way.  It's not easy.  And it can be emotionally draining, but it can also be a very good thing, and I hope that I can remember to keep that GOOD at the top of my heart and mind going forward.

Thank you Kinga for the photo!