Monday, June 26, 2017

Magic Chain - Heather Kingsley Heath

Heather's beadwork never fails to provide some innovation that I've not tried before.  She is both a scholar of bead history as well as a perfect ambassador for national beading week, always providing new direction and working hard to spread the message of beady goodness around the world.  Here she gives us the Magic chain which will be a great way to show off her beady peeps which is her contribution to this years national beading week.  Enjoy!  Marcia

National Beading Week July 29th-August 6th.

A simple idea to share the bead love has grown into an international success. National Beading week was started by the Beadworkers Guild in Britain. The aim was simple, to support our local bead stores, beading group and each other. How? by having a beading party,  a bead group day, a special in store class, or just invite the curious to sit and bead. 

The Guild invited ambassadors to help spread the word, bead artists and store owners came up with fun events, free patterns, bead alongs, competitions and ask an expert bead clinics. 
Last year there were bead bombings complete with beaded bunting, parties, fundraiser days for favourite charities, ‘bring a beginner’ days and lots and lots of sharing the fun and bead love via social media.

This year the ambassador designers will be creating new designs, and you can find links to them on the National Beading week website, but here’s the thing... we need you to join in! Show and share your freebie creations, share with the world how you’ll be celebrating this special week of bead love too.

access to the free goodies is here:

To get the party started early, try the Magic Chain links.
We’d love to see yours, so there is a suggestions list and pictures at the end of the how to, to get your beady muse going.
Start with a chain of bigger links it’s easier to handle and see to the technique working.

You will need size 8 seed beads in four colours. (A,B,C,D)
Beading thread Fireline 6lb or K.O, One G.
Beading needle: size 10  

Here’s how...
Step 1  Pick up 8A and 8B. Secure the beads in a ring and bring the needle out between A and B. 

Step 2  Step 2  Pick up 8C, 8D. 

Step 3  Pass the needle through the centre of the ring of A and B beads then pass through 8C.

Step 4  Pull the thread really tight so the C and D ring of beads closes up snug.

If thread tension is an issue pass through the ring of C and D beads again pulling tight as you go, (making sure that thread passes through the hole of the A and B ring again). 
The ring of C and D beads should sit like a link in a chain, with only a tiny bit of thread between them where two rings meet. If the threads can slip between the beads of either ring, the optical illusion of separate rings will be lost.

The ring of C and D beads should sit like a chain link with only a tiny bit of thread where the ring joins the A and B ring. This is what creates the optical illusion.

Next steps, add more chain links alternating A and B rings with C and D rings. 

With links of two colours you will need to hold the beadwork in the same direction each time, otherwise the colour sequence will reverse itself. 
This is not an issue if the beads of each half of the link are the same.  

Now you have the basic technique, it’s time to play. Yu can make links using any combination of beads, all sizes of seed beads, crystals, o beads, pearls, etched glass beads, drops etc.
To keep track, just decide the combination for the first half of the ring and repeat it for the second half.
Mix ring sizes, small and large to change the scale of your Magic Chain.
Try new to you colour combinations and see what happens.
Mix bead finishes like matt and shiny, metallic and opaque.

African inspiration mix with black and white size 8 links, brightly coloured links of size 11 seed beads and links of brightly coloured size 8’s and 3mm and 6mm czech crystals.

Beachcomber combination, links of cream size 8’s and 11’s with size 15 silver beads alternate with links of size 8 and 11 beads and size 8 demi beads in dark copper.

Cool greens. Sizes 11 matte grey with size 11 silver and rainbow teal size 8 demi beads for one link; size 11 green seed beads with celsian teal 3mm czech crystals and the same size 8 demi beads.

And the perfect accessory for your Magic Links chain (here worked in size 11 seed beads with 16 beads per link) is this years NBW free pattern from Heather,
bead yourself a rainbow nation, or just one little pal in your favourite colour. 
If you love Heather’s vintage look rainbow, materials packs are available.For the Beady peeps pattern click here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Orange is the New Love by Leah Ready

Having had Leah's mother Joyce in more than one bead class over the years, I can tell you this story brought a tear to my eye.  I remember her long white hair, her big jewelry and  her tenacity with her beadwork.  I also got to witness the tenderness with which Leah cared for her mom as she got older.  It is such a wonderful gift when art brings families together.  I've had a few mother and daughter bead 'teams' over the years and it's always memorable.  These beaded fish vests are a wonderful expression of Joyce's art.  Marcia

     Born the only child of two artistic parents, I grew up without boredom. My parents exposed me to many different mediums at an early age. I threw pots on the wheel, made a ceramic mosaic coffee table that I still use today and I experimented with wirework. I made my fair share of woven potholders and embroidered felt Christmas ornaments. I glazed a bowl so uniquely (by accident) that the instructor was amazed and unable to figure out what I did. My dad, a silversmith, offered to teach me how to tufa cast and bezel silver; I looked at his rough hands and said, “No.” My mom offered embroidery and sewing, knitting and crocheting. The first two took; the second two did not.

     After twenty years of cross stitch and crewel, I settled into making heavily embroidered soft sculpture nativities and ornaments, which I sold at craft shows. But after several years, I felt a desire for sparkle. I found beads, and it was the beginning of the end!

     I began making jewelry. Nothing elaborate, just simple beaded bracelets and necklaces. But I couldn’t stop buying beads! I discovered that it was a simple crossover from embroidery to bead embroidery and I took that path.  Mom was intrigued, but couldn’t understand why I liked beading more than embroidering, more than knitting and sewing. So I began to give her small bags and tubes of beads in her favorite colors (orange, red, purple) for her birthday, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Christmas. Every holiday was an occasion to spread bead love. She would frown and say, “What am I supposed to do with these?” I would say, “You’ll figure it out!”

     When I began teaching beadwork in the mid-90’s, she insisted on going with me to bead shows as “my chaperone.” She also began taking classes. Her first was with Robin Berry, who was the perfect teacher for an older woman who had never seriously beaded before.

     Soon Mom was taking classes with all the best teachers and enjoying my trips more. More often than not, she finished the pieces. They weren’t always perfect, but she enjoyed making them and many times gave them to her friends as gifts. She traveled with me to Tucson several times for the Gem and Mineral Show and bought beads and crystals and anything else that sparkled. She loved drusy, crystals and pearls.

     By her early 80’s, she had arthritis, vertigo and macular degeneration; she later had a heart valve transplant, got a Pacemaker and fought off breast cancer. But through it all, she beaded. And then, one day I asked to see what she was doing. “No,” she said firmly. “You have to wait until I’m done.”

     So I impatiently waited… and was rewarded by Mom combining two of her loves: sewing and beading. A Pisces, Mom loved fish. So she made an appliqu├ęd vest, with semi-bead embroidered fish all over it… in her new favorite colors, purple and green! Beautifully constructed and lined with silk, it always drew attention when she wore it.

     But Mom was not done. She wanted a vest where the fish were solidly embroidered, so the second vest was born. I need to tell you that I thought she was insane. She used primarily 15/0s! The smaller the bead, the better, was her mantra.  I watched as this vest came to life and I was amazed.  It was even more beautiful than the first! She used vintage nailheads for fish eyes, silky ribbon for kelp and vintage glass “bubbles”.

After the second vest, she went back to making bracelets and earrings and rings for friends, neighbors and me. I thought the “vest era” had ended. Mom died at the age of 91 in June of 2013, ten months after my Dad. She was never happy after he died, but that was natural. They had been married 74 years, and she missed him tremendously.

     It took me a while to start cleaning their house. Memories made it difficult. But what a legacy Mom left me. I now have more beads than I know what to do with, especially orange! And pearls!  Crystals! Charms! A ton of 15/0s! 3-cuts! I have Dad’s turquoise, coral, malachite! I could open a bead store. But in the midst of cleaning up, you’ll never guess what I found. Yes, Mom had started designing another vest… this one with flowers. It would have been as beautiful as she was. Miss you, Mom.

     How Mom did it:
1.               1. Cut out three pieces of silk or cotton in the shape of a vest (2 fronts, 1 back).
2.               2. drew fish designs on ironable pellon
3.               3. cut out the designs and ironed them onto the vest
4.              4.  using Nymo D, a beading needle and 15/0s, she bead-embroidered the fish. She used 4-        bead backstitch and the stop stitch.
5.               5. When she was done, she sewed the three pieces together and lined the vest with silk.
6.               6. Be ready for compliments.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Inspired travels! Marcia DeCoster

I just had an amazing opportunity to travel with a group of like minded beady people through some of the most amazingly picturesque cities of Europe.  We started out in Prague, followed by Vienna, Budapest and finally two wonderful days in Paris.

The trip had so many facets to it, it's hard to capture all of the feelings surrounding so many special moments, but I can tell you I had so many opportunities to connect with our worldwide beading community and it was awesome!  In so many places I got to feel the love as I met beaders from all over the world, some for the first time.

So where is this post going?  Well I want to tell you some stories of those meetings, and of the wonderful time we had exploring the Bohemian collection, and I will.  Perhaps in a second post.

Now what I want to discuss is inspiration.....because as I reviewed my photos I realized how many of them were jumping off points for something that may eventually be beaded.  There were patterns and shapes everywhere that invoked just a wisp of an idea waiting to be explored more fully.  Let's have a look.

First up is St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna.....a Bargello pattern in the roof seems to beg to be beaded.  I'll leave that one to the peyote gals who can really do it justice.

And of course a little tiara inspiration from the Swarovski shop.  The Bad Liz of Tiara fame should have a look at these!

For me there is this whimsical sign.  Forever I've wanted to bead some sort of fairy house and this one would provide some good inspiration.

 This one's from a museum in Vienna.  It was reasonably under whelming for the most part, but there was a wall of these.  I can't help but thinking it it something Kinga Nichols might bead.  I also wonder at the idea to put art and whimsy into armor used to defend one's body against an act of war.  It seems at odds to one another.

More whimsy here on the walls of the Klosterneuburg abbey.   This is a tour we took while river cruising on the Danube from Vienna to Budapest.

I think the scroll work on the walls would lend it self to a very detailed craw pendant.....hhmmmm.....

and of course jewelry in paintings provides plenty of inspiration

Here is a fence....perhaps in Paris, perhaps in Budapest, I really should take notes, but again it looks like the perfect pattern to be done in CRAW.  Funny that my eye is always drawn to these geometric patterns.

Hexagonal units, interspersed with diamonds, outlined in gold bands.  This would make a beautiful bracelet.

 Oh and did I mention CRAW, perhaps in size 15's?

This street poster was that faint glimmer of a design......I have ideas.

A fence at the Rodin museum provided a little LOVE inspiration, Paris being the city of love after all.

The inspiration here is all color and I so wish that I didn't have to contend with window glare....these were in a window shop near Montmartre.  I often think that a packaging engineer might have been a good career for me, but alas I didn't have the artistic drive when I was young enough to pursue that type of career path.

I don't know how I would bead this, but I was struck by the elegance of the shapes and sometimes just the idea of creating a certain mood is enough to evoke an idea.

 The next two pieces were from a beautiful collection of Bijoux in an art and design museum that we  stumbled on in Paris.

It was pointed out that Nancy Cain has a piece similar to this.  The ornateness might be hard to capture in beads, but certainly the shape and the jewels are compelling.

I am a lover of travel and I see inspiration everywhere.  I love looking back at my photos as they tell a story and these ones told the story of friendship, beads and inspiration!  I hope you may find some inspiration of your own in my photos, or revisit your own travel photos where I am sure plenty of ideas abound!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Love is a Diane Whiting

This week we have a free pattern for a charming, beaded box designed by Diane Whiting.  Here is Diane to tell you about the project.

Love is a gift; it cannot be earned, it cannot be deserved, it cannot be bought and it cannot be stolen.  It can only be given by the lover to the beloved.  Love is a gift that gives to both.

My gift to you is a crystal Right Angle Weave gift box.  The main instructions use 4mm bicone crystals and make a box measuring 1-3/4” X 1-3/4”.  A nearly endless number of box sizes can be made by using more or fewer crystals, or by changing to 3mm bicones, Firepolish, pearls, round metal seed beads or any number of other beads.  Just remember to use beads that are relatively equal on all sides.


Swarovski Elements Article 5328 4mm bicone beads
8 lb Fireline
10 yards
Mylar or cardboard sheet 7” x 7”      
Clear tape

Ribbon, Wire Lace (6mm), or shibori ribbon
1 yard (appx.)

Trace 6 squares measuring 1-3/4” x 1-3/4” in the following orientation and score on the blue dotted lines. If you want to enclose a small note, trace the heart shape to measure 1-1/2” x 1-1/2” on either the mylar or decorative paper:

Cut the mylar on the solid lines and fold on the dotted lines and bring together the A and B sides.  Tape in place with clear tape.

Fold the D side to be the bottom of the box and tape in place.

Enclose your note if desired, and then fold the top down and tape in place.

RAW cover:

Begin standard RAW strip by making a 4-bead square unit.

Add 3 beads to make the next unit.

Continue adding 3 beads at a time until strip equals 31 units long.

Join the 2 ends by picking up 1 bead (a), passing needle through the end bead of the beginning side of the strip (b), then picking up 1 bead (c) and passing needle through the end bead of the ending side of the strip (d.)  Pull thread tight and pass needle through the first bead added in this step (a.)

Work RAW for 8 rows, joining and stepping up at the end of each row.

Slide the RAW tube over the box form, lining up each corner with a vertical bead.

Begin at one corner, and add beads 2 at a time in RAW.

Connect the final row by adding 1 bead at a time and passing needle through the existing edge bead.

Either cut your thread or weave through the beads until you reach the other open side, and repeat adding 2 beads at a time in RAW until you reach the final edge, then add 1 bead at a time.

Weave threads through a couple of beads and cut.  You can tie a half-hitch knot or two if desired, then pass needle through an adjacent bead and pull thread tight to embed the knot in a bead before cutting.

Wrap the box in your choice of ribbon, or embellish the box with beads.  I like to use a “Tiffany-Style” wrap and bow, which gives a smooth bottom.  Google “How to tie a Tiffany Bow” to see a variety of YouTube videos.