The Making of a Challenge Piece Part 5

By | June 23, 2017

This piece is finally coming together.  It’s looking like it’s actually going to work, but the deadline keeps looming.  In the mean time, other obligations keep sucking up my beading time.

Now it’s time to start on the forehead panel.   You might remember that my initial sketch didn’t include this piece…   Time to start designing again. Forehead-Piece-Template This piece also came with a structural challenge.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to get my needle in the space between the wires to whip stitch this portion as I had the other sections.   The easiest solution was to add a bit extra to the top of the panel and  thread the vinyl through the gap, and attach it to the back side of the piece.   A little extra trimming was necessary in the end, but it worked out well. Forehead-piece-in-progress-2 Forehead-Piece-in-progressThings are getting close now.    The forehead panel is attached and everything is looking good, but it still needs a little something.

Headdress-almost-finished

At this point I had used all but one of the types of beads in the kit   I really wanted to work in those big gold melon beads.   And I wanted to cover up that bit of ultrasuede that could be seen from the front.    Thinking back to those Brazilian headdresses, they all had some sort of fringe or swags to bring some movement to the piece.     Time to make more tiny flowers…Headdress-finished-Left-side-viewSwags added to both sides, and now it’s time for some glamour shots.

The Making of a Challenge Piece Part 4

By | June 22, 2017

With the fabric problem solved, I sat down to some serious bead time.   The first step was to transfer my design to tracing paper.   Paper-Embroidery-Template Headdress-Paper-Template-The paper then gets stitched to the vinyl and from then on, it’s like coloring with beads.   Fill in the areas with the right beads, and remove the paper as you go. My super pointy tweezers are one of my favorite tools.  This is a great technique for all sorts of bead embroidery.   I filled in all of the parts, then added the lizards last, since I knew they would be sneaky thread catchers. Headdress-Center-Panel-in-progress Headdress-Front-Panel-finishedThe side panels went quickly compared to the center panel. Headdress-side-piecesNow comes the tricky part, attaching the panels to the frame.    I backed each piece with ultrasuede, and stitched a row of beads along the two side edges to join them, leaving the bottom edge open. Now another issue arises.

It looks ok, but needs a bit more oomph.  Enter my beady/quilty friend, Carol with a fabulous heat sensitive batting/interfacing.  I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called at the moment.  But you can cut it to size, then heat set it to harden and shape it.  I put a small bit of that in each of the panels and it added just the right amount of stiffening.   I then slid them over the frame, and pulled the ultrasuede to the front and whip stitched it as close to the wire as possible.   Headdress-Cat-ears

And here is where the structural issues rear their annoying heads.   Notice that there is no space between the side panels and the center panel.   Hmmm, how is that piece going to fit? In the original paper planning stage, I had set the side panels farther apart.  I didn’t notice until now that they got wired on closer than I had intended.   Also notice that the back panel has a support beam.  Unlike the side panels, I can’t just slide the piece over the top.

The backing for the front piece was made in two pieces that overlapped.  A small horizontal cut was made to accommodate that support wire.  A little wire bending and a little creative sewing worked to attach the center panel without undoing the work I had already done.   Headdress-Nearly-completeNow the problem becomes the forehead panel.   There is no longer room to wrap that panel around the frame.   The back wire of the forehead panel is removed and reattached a bit lower.

The Making of a Challenge Piece Part 3

By | June 21, 2017

So now I had a skull and two lizards, but no real plan other than a head piece of some sort.   Another trip down the Pinterest wormhole provided tons of inspiration, and lead me to wire frames for Brazilian Carnival Headdresses.  Well there was no time to order one, but through the magic of the internet, I found tutorials for how to make your own!

The first order of business was to find an assistant. Mannequin-Head

I busted out the heaviest gauge aluminum wire that I had on hand and got to experimenting.  I made a basic headband out of wire, and then started experimenting with paper shapes before deciding on the final design. Headdress-Frame-in-ProgressI knew that the skull would be front and center, and since the piece would be somewhat heavy, it would need a forehead panel to balance the weight.  There is also a piece of wire that runs down the back of the head for balance.Headdress-Wire-Frame-Finished

Here’s the frame all finished.   A few tweaks were made as the piece was embellished, but this is the general shape and size.   Next the frame parts that would remain exposed were wrapped with grosgrain ribbon.    I didn’t take any pictures of this part of the project.  Not terribly glamorous, but necessary.   I figured the grosgrain would offer a bit more grip for the wearer of the piece.  I don’t know about other people, but my hair is pretty slippery, the more tooth the better on a head piece.

Now that I had the bones of the piece in place, it was time to start sketching.   By now I had made a few more components and it was time to play. Headdress-sketchA lot of people ask about my design process and if I sketch things out ahead of time.   The answer is not always, but sometimes it is definitely necessary.  This was one of those times.    Next I made some paper templates, curving the bottom edges so that they followed the shape of the frame.

The next challenge was discovering that the fabric I had initially decided to use wasn’t going to work.  I have been making pieces with marine vinyl for a while.  Diane Fitzgerald introduced me to this fun surface a few years back.   It’s great because the edges don’t fray, and it comes in great colors.   I had some lovely gold, but it was way too stiff.   Experiments showed that it wasn’t going to do what I needed it to do.    I did have a roll of fashion vinyl on hand, but it was silver.  It was the perfect thickness and had a nice hand to it.   Enter Lumiere paints.   I cut off a piece of vinyl and got to work painting.   Hand-Painted-Vinyl Painted-vinylI wanted a mottled look, and I wanted to pull in a bit more color in a subtle way.   Thank goodness the colors held.  I heat set it with my heat gun for extra insurance.

The Making of a Challenge Piece Part 2

By | June 20, 2017

The lizards sat for a while, and I moved onto other projects for a bit.   Then I went on vacation, and the time crunch set in.   I decided to definitely head in the desert direction, but I figured that everyone else would probably be making a necklace, so I should make something else to help my piece stand out.    I had been thinking about crowns.   My grandmother and her sister, Pauline made beautiful fabric crowns from vintage trims and embroidery.    They were soft, and elegant.   But a full on crown is a lot of real estate to cover in a short time.  I was still waffling between a crown and a necklace.

A fortuitous trip to Target yielded an unexpected meeting with my lampworking friend Camille.   Camille and I worked on another challenge piece together several years ago.   We had a nice little brainstorming chat, and I was convinced to head down the crown/ head piece route.

Thinking of my grandmother reminded me that she had several bleached cow skulls hanging on her porch for years.   This sounded like just the thing to go with my piece, so I started thinking about how to bead a cow skull.   It could work like the lizards, but I would definitely need an armature.  I thought about asking Camille to make me a glass one, but decided that since I was short on time, I should figure out how to do it myself.    Enter a trip down the Pinterest wormhole.   I found a tutorial for making them out of polymer clay, but in the interest of keeping it light, I made a few with Crayola Model Magic which is an air dry foam clay.   Skull-armaturesThey came out a wee bit wonky, but since they were going to get covered with beads, I didn’t worry too much about it.    The clay is not super sturdy.  I definitely wouldn’t use it on something that was going to get heavy wear and tear, but it worked fairly well for this job.   I did have to re-attach the horn after a small incident. Cow-skull-in-progress-1 Cow-Skull-in-progressI went ahead and painted the eye sockets to give it some depth.   I had to go back after this shot and touch it up a bit more so no white bits were showing.    Getting the jaw close to right was tricky.   I ended up having to break off part of the jaw and create the shape using just beads.  Not exactly anatomically correct, but you get the right feel from it. Cow-Skull-EmbellishedI also added a few tiny flowers for good measure.   I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

The Making of a Challenge Piece Part 1

By | June 19, 2017

Back in November I was contacted by a representative from TOHO Beads asking if I would be interested in participating in their bead challenge.  Having seen all of the magnificent pieces through the years at the Bead and Button Show, of course I said yes. TOHO makes beautiful beads, and I am always up for a challenge.   Right before Christmas I received my box of beads.  I opened it up and marveled at the sheer quantity of beads.  I knew the quality would be great.  I expected seed beads, but I didn’t expect the extras – crescent beads, and melon beads in two sizes.   The demi rounds were a surprise as well.   I had been hoarding some that I bought last summer, but hadn’t had a chance to use them yet.    The colors were the biggest surprise and the biggest challenge of the whole piece.   Beige, Cream, Electric blue, and Eggplant.   Not the colors I am used to working with.      Toho-Challenge-Kit In the rush of holiday excitement, the beads got put aside, and my brain had time to percolate.

The rules stipulated that you could add one focal piece, and whatever findings were necessary, but that the focus should be on the beads.   They also said that the contents of the kit and progress photos should remain secret until the unveiling at the Bead and Button Show in June.   I was so excited about being asked to participate, it was hard not to share.

The more I looked at the colors, the harder the project got.   I am a bright color gal, and a nature girl.   These colors didn’t work for either of my comfort zones.   I started thinking about deserts and sand, and I started doing research.   My first thought was to make a desert necklace full of lizards and succulents.    But I couldn’t quite get past the lack of green.    I decided to make a few lizards anyway.   Lizards are definitely in my comfort zone.  I ordered some bags of tiny lizards from Amazon and got to work.  Blue-Lizard-in-progress Blue-Lizard-UnderbellyI was hoping to make a bunch of lizards, but there weren’t enough 15s in the box to make more than two. Beige-Lizard-Side-View Lizard-Duo        Lizard-BattleThe lizards sat on my bead mat for a while and things got a little silly.

Un Finished Object Blog Hop #2

By | May 1, 2017

Hello Everyone!    This has been a doozy of a month.   I completed my piece for the TOHO Beads Challenge. (It’s pretty fabulous, if I do say so myself, but I can’t show it off until next month.)   I taught 2 big classes, and I participated in the Stutz Artists Association Annual Open House, which is my biggest show of the year.   In between all that I somehow managed to make 6 new necklaces, 40 pairs of earrings, and I knit a shawl out of sock weight yarn! (The shawl still needs to be blocked, but I’ll post a picture soon.)   This didn’t leave much time for the old UFO drawer.    But still progress was made.

I’m pretty sure this is what the inside of my brain looks like at the moment…

bead-chaos

Two of the six necklaces that I made were technically UFOs.   Last fall I made several sets of beaded beads from a Diane Fitzgerald class last summer.  I had intended to turn them into necklaces for last fall’s shows, but they got put into a box and forgotten.   I pulled them out a few weeks ago, and realized why they had been relegated to the box.   They are long, so they don’t drape as nicely as I had hoped.  But I am pleased with how they turned out. The set pictured here is strung with vintage lucite beads and some mahogany obsidian.   I still have two sets to string.  I might experiment with hanging the other ones vertically.

Diane-Beaded-Bead-Necklace-Close-up Diane-Beaded-Bead-Necklace-aqua-brown

I also made some progress on a freeform peyote bracelet that has been sitting in the drawer for years.  It’s not finished yet, but it’s closer than it was.  I pulled it out yesterday, thinking it just needed a clasp, but really, it needs a little something else, and I didn’t have quite the right button.  Maybe this one will be finished next time.

Here is the before:

freeform-citrus-before

And here is what it looks like now:

Freeform-Citrus-BraceletIt’s getting better but not quite there yet.  I think it needs more embellishment, but I’m not sure what.

Yesterday I was a total zombie after the whole crazy month and having spent the last two days working the show, so I needed something low key to work on.  I pulled out a half finished crocheted rope that I started several years ago.   I thoughtfully left the pattern with the piece, but it took a few minutes to sort out exactly what I was doing.   I cut the finished portion of the rope from the spool, and strung 4 36 row repeats of the pattern, which should give me the same length on the other side.    I decided I would make the rope in two pieces, and add a focal bead in the center.  This seems like it gives me more design options.   I tried to start crocheting it last night, but I think I have the wrong sized hook.   Lately I have been crocheting with smaller cord, so I switched to a smaller hook, and that wasn’t working.  Need to dig out the other hook which is probably buried in the ufo drawer somewhere.   I’m hoping I will be able to find a cool focal bead at the Bead and Button Show in June.

Crochet-rope-in-progress crochet-pattern

For the next deadline, I hope to tackle one of my big UFOs.   May is traditionally UFO month in my studio. I like to finish up a few projects before I head to Bead and Button and come home with more unfinished projects…

I hope the rest of you have had more success with your UFOs.  I look forward to cruising through the list to see what everyone has been working on.

 

Karen Williams, Baublicious

Francie Broadie,  FAB

Christine Van Dyke Altmiller, One Kiss Creations

Therese, Therese’s Treasures

Kim Dworak, CianciBlue

Liz Hart, Treetop Life

Liz En, Bead Contagion

Amy Severino, Amy Beads

Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers

Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope

Christi Carter, Sweetpea Path

Bobbie Rafferty, Beadsong Jewelry

Margo Lynn Hablutzel, My World and It’s Full of Books

Adventures in Buttons

By | March 16, 2017

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Indiana Button Society’s annual Button Show with my friend, Carol.  Having been to many bead shows that incorporated some button dealers, I thought I knew what I was getting into, but the whole button show experience was totally new.

We paid our admission and were given adorable nametags embellished with cute buttons.  And then we entered into a hotel ballroom full of people with boxes upon boxes of buttons, all neatly labeled and carded. It was a tiny bit overwhelming.  I generally do not have the patience to sort through lots of boxes while shopping.

Button-Show-Name-Tag

But all of the vendors had their cards arranged by subject and type of button.  It made it all fairly easy to browse.   Since I hadn’t come to the show with any specific button needs.  I did some casual flip throughs of the boxes, and mostly stuck to the inexpensive grab bags of buttons.  I found a few treasures there.

At the back of the room was a display of button cards that were being judged on their merits.  I snapped a few quick pics of an embellished button card that caught my eye.  It reminded me of the fun embellished button swap that I did with Diane Fitzgerald, Stepheny Hornblow, and their beady ladies.  I also did a fun button swap with my Siever’s bead girls. That reminds me that I still need to do something with all those buttons…

Embellished-Button-Card-Full Embellished-Button-Card-Close-Up

Another fun treasure was this cute little display of tiny plate beads.  They made me long for my ever so brief doll house days.

Button-Cupboard-Plates

A few more passes around the room yielded several treasures.   I found several inexpensive grab bags of buttons which will hopefully be turned into jewelry in the near future.   And I found two spectacular cicada buttons that had to come home with me. metal-ball-buttons French-Tights-ButtonsThe small ball shaped buttons would make great centers for beaded flowers.  And those little metal florals will be fun to play with.  I also found some fun vintage glass buttons set in metal, and a bag full of tiny red glass shank buttons. Vintage-glass-buttons-in-settings Vintage-Red-Glass-ButtonsAnd you can never go wrong with mother of pearl.   I can’t believe this bag of carved buttons was only $10.  Most of them are larger than a quarter. Carved-Pearl-buttons Pearl-Shank-Buttons And finally the treasures of the day, the cicadas. Cicaida-Button Pink-Glitter-Beetle-ButtonI know nothing about either button, except that they are both glass.   The top one looks a bit Japanese to me.  The bottom one was just screaming my name.  Hot pink glitter and bugs all in one?   It had to be mine.

I also bought a few blank button cards to jazz up my studio.  I certainly have enough buttons at home to fill up a few just for fun.   This is what most of the buttons were displayed on.  Some were grids, some were random arrangements.  They are all sturdy mat board.  And most of the buttons were wired on with bits of telephone wire.  The lady who sold me the button cards threw in a free jar of wire bits.  Button-Card-Radial Button-Card-Concentric

The vendors were all nice and helpful when asked questions.  There were even refreshments on hand.   All in all it was a great way to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.   Next year, I will go with a better plan, and hope to come home with some real treasures.

Un-Finished Objects Blog Hop or UFOs as we like to call them…

By | March 11, 2017

A while back, the lovely Karen Williams invited me to a “support group” for all those un-finished objects that all beaders have.   I hopped right on board.  I have an entire set of drawers full of UFOs!  One of the perils of being a full time beader and designer.   Inspired by the rest of the group, I resolved to tackle the drawers.  I went through each drawer and catalogued what was there and what needed to happen for it to get finished.  I also pulled out the things that I knew I would never finish, and I pulled out the things that were kits that hadn’t been started. I had 4 drawers of projects to cull.

UFO-Drawers UFO-drawer-notes

UFO-Drawer-Interior  What I learned was that pretty much everything there was there for a reason.   A problem was encountered: maybe lack of supplies, maybe technical difficulties, perhaps even insufficient skill level at the time of the project. Some of the reasons were small.  Those are the projects that get pulled out when it’s show time and I need some quick inventory.  I think I found at least 7 bracelets that just needed clasps!

I managed to finish a few quick fixes.  I have three major UFOs that I would really like to finish this years, but an unexpected vacation and a secret bead project have kept me from tackling those just yet.   For the reveal, I decided to go with a project that has been languishing for at least 5 years.   In addition to the pile of nearly finished bracelets, I found 6 crocheted ropes just waiting to be finished.

Crochet-Rope-Disassembled-1 Crochet-Rope-Disassembled-2   This pair of ropes was completed shortly after I learned to do bead crochet at least 5 years ago, maybe longer.   I had made several bangles with a similar color scheme.  I think I originally planned to make more bangles, but I got inspired to hunt for lampwork beads to match.   I found these beads at the Bead and Button Show several years ago.   They were carefully wrapped in tissue in the same bag as the rope.   Now they have been joined together.  I added a few onyx spacers to tie the lampwork in with the ropes. The clasp is sterling silver with a black stone of some sort in the center.   I am quite pleased with the outcome.  It inspired me to dig out the other ropes, but alas, I do not have the requisite focal beads to pull the others together just yet.  I guess I know what I’ll be shopping for in June.

Crochet-Rope-Primary-Finished Crochet-Rope-Primary-2

I also found this cute little dagger bracelet.   It’s so wiggly, I can’t stop playing with it!  I added the perfect purple slide clasp, and reinforced the whole dang thing since it seemed like that would be a good idea.  I think this one will be worn a lot.Dagger-Slinky-Bracelet-2 Dagger-Slinky-Bracelet-Close-up

It has been fun seeing what everyone else in the group has been working on. I look forward to seeing which projects they chose to finish for the blog hop.   Pop on by everyone else’s blog to see what they have been working on.

Karen Williams, Baublicious
Christine Van Dyke Altmiller, One Kiss Creations
Amy Severino, Amy Beads
Therese, Therese’s Treasures
Kim Dworak, CianciBlue
Liz E, Bead Contagion
Margo Lynn Hablutzel, My World and It’s Full of Books
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
Cathi Salzarulo Kent, The Cat’s Meow
Liz Hart, Treetop Life

 

Bead It Forward 2016

By | January 21, 2016

Every January, the Indiana Bead Society spends the monthly meeting working on squares for the Bead It Forward project.  Beaders all over the world make little 1.5″ by 1.5″ beaded squares which are then assembled into quilts and other items, then auctioned off to raise money for breast cancer research.   It’s a great way to use your beading superpowers for good.

This year’s theme is Space. There are lots of great patterns available on the Bead It Forward site.  And Amy, the woman in charge, has even provided a page of little blank peyote graphs that are all the perfect size for the project.  That was all the invitation I needed. I couldn’t believe that none of the great sci-fi genres were being represented.  So I dusted off my favorite colored pencils and got to work.   I came up with 6 patterns.  If you make one, send me a picture, I would love to see how these work up.   So far I have only had a chance to start beading one of them.   I will post more pictures as I make progress.   But for now, here are the patterns.   Make a few and send them in to Amy at Bead it Forward.  The squares are due by March 1, 2016.  The guidelines and application form can be found here.

These are all single drop peyote patterns, you can either start from the bottom left or the top right corner.   I think these would all make fun pendants too.  Just add a few more solid rows at the top, fold over and zip into a bail.   I might have to make myself a Gorn necklace…

Classic Trek Square Gorn Square Lego Spaceman Square Retro Rocket Square Robot 1 Square Robot 2 Square

Ornament Swap Blog Hop!

By | December 20, 2015

Christmas-Tree-2015In November I received an e-mail from the lovely Karen Williams of Baubilicious looking for people to participate in a handmade ornament swap.    It sounded like too much fun to pass up, so I signed up.  Karen paired me up with Lori.  We swapped a few e-mails back and forth discussing our styles and color preferences, then we both got to work.

I actually ended up making two ornaments because I was having so much fun. The first one took almost no time at all because I dug through my beaded bead box and found a bead in the perfect colors.   I had been making earrings, so I had lots of little odds and ends of beads laying about.   I coiled up the bottom of a piece of wire and loaded it up with beads.    Ornament-Swap-Dangle-1 After that one I was still itching to bead, so I busted out the Superduos.   I started in the center and just kept adding beads until I liked it.   I might need to make one of these for myself.   Ornament-Swap-Super-Duo-1 As you can see from the photos, in addition to the ornaments I whipped up a few embellished hangers.

When Lori’s package arrived, I was super excited.   I opened it right away and forgot to take a picture of the lovely packaging.   Oops.

I was amused to find that we were both thinking along the exact same lines.   The ornament Lori made for me was quite similar in style to the one I made for her.    Ornament-Swap-Lori-1 Ornament-Swap-Lori-2I love the colors and the long drop style.    It is perfect for my hodge podge tree of special ornaments.    In addition to the perfect ornament, Lori also sent me some lovely Canadian treats.  I’m looking forward to digging into those soon.   I just wish it would get back to appropriate December temperatures rather than this 70 degree business.    Ornament-Swap-SwagI’m so glad I decided to participate in this little swap.   It was a wonderful way to spread some good cheer in this crazy world.   Please stop by and check out everyone’s blog to see what the other beaders have made.

 

Karen Williams and Carrie Johnson

JJ Jacobs and Tanya Goodwin

Francie Broadie and Lori Finney

Liz Hart and Becky Clay

 

I will leave you with this photo of my lovely assistant modelling another ornament I made recently.   Happy Holidays everyone! Arya-with-Hat