Some time ago I wrote a post about the beadwork I do for fun. As I’ve mentioned in my health-related posts, I’m working a reduced schedule at the moment, which has afforded me a bit more quiet time at home for one of my favorite hobbies. It’s been good for me because I find myself dreaming about bead projects rather than work! I’m going to share some of what I’ve been working on, as well as the patterns or kits I’ve completed from designers whose work I enjoy.
First of all, I would be remiss if I didn’t share a picture of my paternal grandmother’s necklace. This is a piece my mother gave me, and I just love how simple, beautiful, and supple it is. It appears to have been crocheted, and it is the piece that inspired me to learn the technique a number of years ago.
Here is one of the crochet necklaces I finished last year. I used a variety of sizes and colors which resulted in the pattern and texture you see here:
The color is a little blown out in this one, but I like the close-up.
Stringing this pattern was more complicated than you’d think. Here is how I keep track of what I was doing:
As I mentioned in my first beadwork post, the heavy lifting with crochet is all the stringing, especially for a long piece like this one. After that it becomes extremely portable, and, if you are making a long necklace (this one is four feet long) it can get a little tedious. I have two others in process, one that is a simple black shiny stripe on a matte black background, and the other is a mix of blue, green and purple. I work on them when I’m watching television (or gamers on Twitch) with my kids, but progress is slow. I will post them if I ever finish!
One of the really exciting things about coming back to beading after all this time is that the bead colors, finishes, and shapes have evolved dramatically in the past ten years. I am particularly enjoying all the new blues and purples, because in the past, purples were very hard to find and often faded over time.
This is a right-angle weave pattern, which is a stitch I didn’t care for much in the past. I really love the geometry of this one. The thin dark blue beads are disks called O-beads, which enable some really interesting patterns. This pattern is from Linda Roberts on Etsy, and it’s called Hopscotch.
Below is another piece made with new bead shapes. It has the O-beads again, and then the elongated beads are two-holed beads called SuperDuos (there is another vendor who makes something similar called Twins). This is a pattern called the O-Mosaic bracelet by Akkesieraden, also available on Etsy.
I love the pattern so much I made it four times! Below is another version in silver and burgundy. I gave the other two away so I don’t have pictures of them.
Here is another bracelet made with SuperDuos in the Crystal Magic Blue color. Because of the sheen the photo doesn’t really do it justice. I am obsessed with this finish, I just think it’s so cool, and so unlike anything that was available in the past! I’ve bought other shapes in the same color, and I can’t wait to experiment with them. This is a pattern by Smadar Grossman of SmadarsTreasure, she made it with muted gold colors. It’s very beautiful that way as well. The pattern is available on Etsy and it’s called the Dramatic SuperDuo bracelet.
The bracelet below is made with a netting technique called chenille (which appears to be netting in the round) and another new bead shape. It’s also an O-bead, but it’s a smaller size and it’s called a demi-round. They are basically a thin slice of a size 11 seed bead. I made this particular bracelet from a kit and I’m glad I did, because the color combination was really cool. It is a free StarmanPresents pattern by Nichole Starman, who works with the manufacturer to develop new bead concepts. If you download this Chenille Stitch Bangle pattern from Fusion Beads, you can buy all the materials needed to make the same one. This is a hollow tube so it’s very light and airy to wear. I bought more demi-rounds and I am planning to make more of these in different colors. It’s not super fast to make, and really cathartic because it builds up really systematically like bricklaying. It is really easy and repetitive so it’s a fun one to make when I’m too tired for something more complicated.
I have been wanting to learn how to bead around Swarovski crystals, and I thought a bead kit might be a good way to learn the basics. This picture doesn’t really do these earrings justice, they are different shades of teal, seafoam green, and silver and the crystals match beautifully. This is a kit called Dancing in the Rain earrings from Fusion Beads. I see all the imperfections in these, but now I understand the basics of bezeling around crystals, and I want to do more.
I have been really sick of (and about) all the news on Facebook, and I went through a purge where I stopped following a bunch of stuff, turned off most notifications, and then went in search of more positive things to fill my feed. I was happy to find a number of different beading groups, and it it always fun to log in now and see the amazing work of so many other crazy beadie ladies.
One thing I became very interested in is Cellini spiral. It’s a form of peyote, which has always been one of my favorite stitches. But it works up on the diagonal, and by using beads of different sizes, you get this cool spiral effect. I watched a video tutorial by Jill Wiseman on YouTube, and after that I did this one:
It worked up very fast and I was instantly hooked. And of course I had to go shopping for beads as I mostly had the smallest sizes depicted here, so I ‘had’ to go out and buy some of the bigger sizes in complementary colors. LOL. Here is another one that I did, I was going for the ‘gasoline on pavement’ look in terms of color palette.
And then after that I had the courage to try a really big one. It took me a few tries to get the size and color combinations right, so it was a little frustrating at first. But once I got the proportions right it was really cool to make. It’s mesmerizing to work on, it feels great in your hands while you’re creating it. And at the end you have a wonderful statement piece to wear.
I am really thrilled with how this turned out, though I have some regrets about the tiniest silver beads I used, as they are starting to tarnish. Still, I love it and every time I wear it someone comments on how cool it is. I am working on anther big one right now in blacks and purples.
I mentioned Jill Wiseman earlier. She is by far the most popular bead instructor on YouTube, with about 250K followers. I’ve learned a number of new techniques by watching her, and, after spending some time on her Facebook page, I decided to look at her website. She has some interesting beads, and I think she does tours to bead manufacturers in the Czech Republic. Along with the Tucson Gem Show every February, that’s something to dream about for when I am feeling better!
One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that when I’m not feeling well (which is often these days), I struggle to find a project to work on, or I find one and my brain fog is so bad that I can’t get my brain around it, or I find a great pattern and I just can’t put the colors together. I sometimes lose a whole day looking through beads and trying different things, and not really getting to bead at all. It can be very frustrating. And then I discovered the kits in Jill’s shop just before my vacation over Thanksgiving. I was super excited! I ordered a whole bunch of them for my trip, and (besides my iPad for reading), that was all I brought with me on vacation. The kits come in a ziplock bag with instructions and the right size needle and thread, so I just had to throw them in my bag. Some of them (like the one below) even have accompanying videos on YouTube.
This one is called Ritzy Ribbon, and I’ve gotten so many compliments on it when I wear it. I made it the full length (about four feet, using all the little charcoal crystals in the kit) so I can wrap it around my neck a few times.
This one is called the Beadazzled Bracelet, and even with the new lightbox I got for Christmas, the picture doesn’t do it justice. When I first started working on it I was not super enthusiastic, but as it came together I really started to like it. I wore it to a Christmas party and everyone who saw it loved it!
The one below is called City Lights. It was fun to make – I finished it on the drive back from Pennsylvania to Illinois after Christmas. I found it cathartic to have the right-angle weave snap into even little squares as I sewed the embellishment on.
This one was fun, too! It’s called the Hollywood Hula Hoop bracelet. There is a netted structure made with size 8 beads underneath, and then all these little beads (combined with 2 mm crystals) are woven into the base. It felt very messy at first, but as it comes together it really looks great. Though if you look at the same bracelet on Jill’s website, the arrangement of the rows is much more precise and each seems to nestle perfectly in the ones on either side of it. While mine isn’t quite so perfect, the photo doesn’t really do this one justice, either. There is a subtle rainbow sheen to the seed beads, and the crystals really sparkle in the light.
On days when I am not feeling well, I will confess to spending hours on Pinterest and Etsy looking at the work of other beaders, and being inspired by the work of really extraordinary designers. Gwen Fisher is one such designer. She has a Ph.D. in math and her work is really interesting to me – it’s very geometrical.
I was first inspired to make one of her pieces called Cellini Flowers and Leaves. I bought the pattern but also bought the pendant that she had in the shop:
It is just as lovely in person as it is in the photograph! But, it turned out to be much much harder to make than I realized, because it’s a combination of cellini and peyote stitches. It was this project that inspired me to learn the Cellini spiral, so I could make it myself. This is on the back burner for now – it is a project for when I am feeling braver and/or my head is more clear.
This next piece is also one of Gwen Fisher’s, it’s called Book of Kells. She shows it in black and silver on Etsy and it’s really lovely, but I was worried I wouldn’t be able to follow the pattern if it was all in black, so I used these pastels. It was a neat project and very different from anything I had done, so I enjoyed it.
That’s it for finished pieces at the moment, though I’m working on a number of other projects concurrently. I have two crochet ropes in process (with size 15 beads, so they are going to take me ages), I’m working on another one of Jill’s kits to learn spiral rope (not hard but a little monotonous for me), I have a crazy colored flat peyote bracelet pattern that I bought that I’m not super motivated to finish (too slow to follow the intricate patter), and then another big Cellini spiral. That definitely gives me variety and keeps me from getting bored with any one project.
I probably have enough beads to open up a new bead store now, especially with all the new sizes and shapes. But it’s hard to resist the yumminess both online and at a local shop I found near me. I also found out there is a place nearby where I can take group classes, so I am looking forward to giving that a try in the coming weeks. For Christmas I also received a gift certificate to take a jewelry (metal-smithing) class in downtown Chicago, which I am super excited about. I am going to wait until the Spring, though, in the hopes that we’ll all be feeling better and that I can meet up with my family in the city for adventures afterwards. We’ll see. We’re hunkering down for our first big snowstorm here, so that feels like a long ways off right now!