Oh it’s beautiful!

August 18, 2011 § Leave a comment


A short post to say: the other day in the mail I received a beautiful gift. I commented on Erin’s post about ‘What does live what you love mean to you?over on her fabulous blog and my comment got chosen to receive one of her limited edition pendants as featured on the front of Stringing magazine.

Oh my.

I have no idea what I’m going to make with it. All I know is it is wonderful. Thank you Erin for such a generous gift!

Also, I have already sent my beads off for the Bead Soup Blog Party, and my partner Ana has sent hers. I will be going a lengthy post about both soups and Ana when they arrive – more exciting beady beadness!


Bead Soup Blog Party

August 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Oh! What’s that?

On the right hand side there? That purple box thing…what is it?

I’ll stop being an idiot now. I’m getting far too excited but it’s because I’ve just signed up for my very first Bead Soup Blog Party run by the incredibly talented and also incredibly foolhardy Lori Anderson. If you click on the button it will take you to her blog page all about the Bead Soup.

The Bead Soup Blog Party runs twice a year and involves the following:

Sign up between August 1 – 3: you must have a blog to participate.

August 5: Lori partners everyone up with another beading blogger (see what I mean about foolhardy?)

By August 17: you send out a collection of bead soup to your partner, which must include a focal bead, a interesting clasp, and some coordinating beads

You then photograph your beads that you receive, make something, and then everyone reveals their fantastic makes a month later on September 17 and you take about a week to tour round all the blogs. I’m very excited because, at last count, there are 150 participants from across the world! I’m looking forward to reading new bead blogs and interacting with some new beaders – in fact, I may have already started putting together my bead soup (because I’m like that).

If you’d like to take part you still have another 2 days to sign up, so get on it.

Saturday’s Stuff I Love

July 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

Just a small selection of Stuff I Love this Saturday, as I haven’t had much time to catch up on all the blog reading (there are so many!)

Turquoise glass and clay connector from Artisan Clay

Spiky lampworked glass ‘sea anemone’ beads by BatChen Designs

Beautiful pastel bracelet from For My Sweet Daughter for the Margie and Me Challenge

Rich and textured earrings from Kristi Bowman Design

Clasp by Melinda Orr that I am love with. The colours and textures are wonderful!

Ephydriad earrings by Fanciful Devices – bold and powerful.

Another thing I really love is represented by this picture:

I took this book out from our local library yesterday, expecting it to be fairly regular designs with maybe a few nice ones…and I was completely blown away! The designs are really modern and exciting, lots of interesting use of texture and scale, and the instructions are easy to follow. Turns out one of the authors is editorial director for Beadwork and Stringing magazines, the other a jewellery design and education co-ordinator for Soft Flex. So of course they’re going to be awesome!

The last thing I love this week is also represented by an image (of my own work!):

This piece has changed slightly from when you saw it as part of this week’s BTW. On Thursday I went to my first ever beading group in Skipton, North Yorkshire, which is about 30 minutes on the train from where I live. I was a bit nervous and arrived early, but all the group made me feel really welcome and were very enthusiastic about my work! They were all very adept at beadwork, working quickly and able to talk at the same time (which is quite hard when you’re concentrating and counting). It was good to hang out with people who understood my interest in the subject and also had enough technical knowledge to suggest new things I could do and ways to add to the piece. I will be embellishing this pendant/piece further in time for a handicrafts competition coming up very soon (next weekend!).

And very quickly, as they arrived this morning, UK beaders should check out Choosy Beads: fantastic beads, some lovely Czech glass, and best of all – I ordered yesterday lunch time and they arrived today! Woo! I’m off to Nottingham again today for another bead shop visit. Have a great weekend whatever you’re doing!

Saturday’s Stuff I Love

June 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

What I’m enjoying very much about this post is that, as I browse round the internet and the beady blogs I avidly read, I pick up on all these fantastic images, pieces, and ideas that often seem completely out of tune with each other. Then when I come to write the post, I see themes emerging! This week, it’s two complimentary colours: blue-greens and orangey-pinks.

Fantastic texture and colour in The Hare pendant by ktotten

Honey From the Bee’s Copper River earrings using vintage chain

Playful and bright enamelled and beaded ring from Fred Bean’s Nook

Amazingly blue Forget Me Not earrings from annabella1966 – wow

A shot of Something Sublime’s beautiful hoop and dangle earrings that you can learn how to make in her course

Singing Cat Studio’s detailed and regally-rich polymer clay pendant

Gaea’s combination of a Jade Scott boat pendant and silk ribbons. Very very envious!

Warm beadwoven pendant from La Bella Joya, whose Monday Musings post got me thinking

Jen Judd Rocks! at both jewellery and mixed media weaving, as you can see here -inspiring colours

So I’ve been thinking of the moody blues and passionate pinks this week! This weekend I’ve got a lot of university study to catch up on, but will also be going to a local sewing cafe and hopefully doing a bit of beading inspired by some of the colours and textures above. Have a great weekend and hope you enjoyed this week’s Stuff I Love!

Saturday’s Stuff I Love

June 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

Here’s a new weekly post that I will be putting up – Stuff I Love (on a Saturday!) I read lots of different jewellery, craft, and design blogs, so each Saturday I’ll post up some images and links of things that have caught my eye from the previous seven days. Sometimes there might be a theme, sometimes not: it just depends on my mood. Enjoy!

Andrew Thornton’s new Winged Heart Pendant design – love it!

Beads from TLS Clay Designs – reminds me of Hundertwasser’s work with their bold, colourful squares

One of the final pieces by Jen Judd Rocks! as part of the Artisan Clay Design Team – the simplicity and striking colour of this is fantastic

A house on a hill – tiny ceramic ring by Elukka (want!)

Simple but beautiful glass and metal necklace by Floridity

One of the great June palettes in the make-along over on La Bella Joya

Some luscious new earrings from Malin de Koning for Bead Table Wednesday

New critter beads by Tree Wings Studio. You can read about the process of making these cute-as-a-button beads on her blog.

Golem Studio bead bunch that feature as the prize on Andrew Thornton’s giveaway: very 60s, very pop art!

That’s it for this week. I’m visiting my sister in Nottingham today and will be visiting another bead shop for a future Bead Shops of Britain post, hooray! What are you up to this weekend?

La Bella Joya book giveaway

May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

These past few weeks have been crazy for giveaways! I can’t believe how many there are going on: could people be any more generous?

The latest one, and one that I would love to win, is over on La Bella Joya aka Marcie who runs a wonderful blog and Etsy shop all about bead embroidering and beadwork. I’ve found Marcie’s work to be inspirational and she’s offering up a giveaway of Sensational Bead Embroidery: 25 Inspiring Jewellery Projects by Sherry Serafini, which looks like a fantastic book.

Marcie has asked those who’d like to be entered into the giveaway to comment and answer the following question:

What you think about bead embroidery? Do you like the big collars that win awards? Do you like embroidery on clothing or handbags? Have you ever done bead embroidery or are you interested in starting?

I’ve already commented over on the blog but thought I would post my thoughts here too.

When I first started getting into jewellery making, every bead embroidery piece I would see I thought ‘Hmmm. Not for me.’ Maybe the pieces I saw were too traditional, or I was looking at the wrong blogs and magazines, but I just didn’t like them at all. Then, when I started experimenting myself, I realised that bead embroidery was not all over-the-top, frilly jewellery that didn’t look cool and modern. It was this:

Pines and Palms Pendant by La Bella Joya

And this:

Asteria Necklace by The Crimson Moon

And this!

All in a Row bracelet by Fred Bean’s Nook

And also this!

Mad Rings 2 pattern by Heather Collin (go buy this, I did and it’s ace!)

I enjoy that bead embroidery can be both traditional and floral and all those other things, and the same techniques can be used to create fresh, modern designs like the ones above. I know some of these are more beadwork than bead embroidery but for me they all come under the heading of ‘work using tiny wee beads’. I haven’t seen any bead embroidery on clothing or bags yet that I really like, but I think that this is more to do with my love of pattern: patterned cloth plus bead embroidery plus jewellery might be a bit much!

I’ve been working more with seed beads lately and will be showing some of the finished articles on Wednesday for the Bead Table Wednesday post – along with some more of my musings on the subject. Anyway, if you’re interested, rush over to Marcie’s blog and take part in the giveaway!

Art Bead Scene giveaway!

May 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Over on Art Bead Scene they are hosting possibly the mother of all giveaways. I can’t even begin to describe everything in there, but it features some of my favourite artists that I have come across in the last few months. I’ve entered through comments but also I wanted to enter by answering one of the questions the ABS team had put forward:

What is the reason you use art beads in your designs?

It seems a simple question: because I like them. But I know that it’s a little bit deeper and more complicated than that.

Rodeo toggle by Orrtec

I work in a bead shop, and before that I worked in a fabric and craft shop. We get our products shipped in from all over the globe, arriving in these huge, weighty cardboard boxes and covered in dust, that we then have to check off, sort, and clean up. Then these little beads are sold to our customers, who come from all over West Yorkshire and also from around the country – and some even from other countries! We have some wonderful products, as did the fabric shop, and they are beautiful.

But in my other life, my academic life, I study a lot about work, and labour, and where things have come from, and how we’ve been alienated from things that are made by other human beings. Food and fashion have undergone big changes in the UK (apparently) with more people being concerned with origin. Where is our food grown? Who harvests it? Who sells it? Who makes my jeans, or sews my skirts, or cobbles my shoes? With big shops and global manufacturing, we can’t really answer a lot of these questions.

Violet Rondelles by MissFickleMedia

I have tried to make a commitment to myself to buy things locally, and if not locally, from a local source, and from small producers. For example, I shop for my food at the local market, where I know many of the traders. When they have English apples, strawberries, peas and rhubarb in, I buy it. If things have been imported from Europe then it’s not so local: but I am putting my money into my local (read, Leeds market) economy. I try to buy clothes from second-hand sources and charity shops. After reading very recently about the wages of garment workers in (for example) Bangladesh, and realising that some of my clothes bear that label, I am going to try very very hard not to purchase from shops that I know, explicitly or implicitly, are using underpaid or forced labour.

So what’s this got to do with beading? Well, I know which country our beads have come from. But I don’t know who made it, what they were paid, or what conditions they worked in. I wear things round my neck and wrists that have travelled across the globe and I have no idea how they’ve been created. That’s sort of weird. I want to know how things are made – that’s why I make things myself. I want to know who the person is who made the objects I enjoy, where they live, what their lives are like, how long it took them, how it was done, whether they enjoyed it or not. It would be unachievable to think that everything I purchase must have a clear and definite point of origin that I can know: but when I can achieve this, why wouldn’t I?

Engraved on My Heart by Floridity

And I think that’s why I enjoy using art beads. Because although it is about the ‘art’ of it, it’s also about the work, and the person who made it. It’s about the social connection of people that has come through an object – rather than an object being mystified and devoid of these social processes. Ideally, I want to be at the point where either I or someone I know can make every single element of a piece of jewellery I create – which is why in September I am desperate to go on a local silversmithing course – and in those different elements the relationships between people, their work, and their ideas, can be expressed and talked about.

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