Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lady Madeleine's Necklace - Finished

Here is the finished necklace I started on Sunday when doing a workshop with Helena Tang Lim.
It is a beautiful and very elegant design and I learnt things I can use in my own work in time.

Always good being a student sometimes, as you do learn new ideas.

If anyone is wanting more information on Helena, below is a link to her

Helena is currently in Australia and will not be back in Singapore until November 25th,

Monday, October 28, 2013

A class with Helena Tang Lim

Sometimes it is good to be a "student" in a class.

For the last few years I have done a workshop with international designers when they visit to teach at The Melbourne Bead Expo, run by The Bead Society of Victoria.

I have met Marcia DeCoster, Melanie Potter and this year I met Helena Tang Lim.

Helena has been a beader for 20 years, coming from a background making traditional Chinese beaded shoes, which today sell for $1000.00 each. An amazing designer whose designs, colour palette, layout and originality I really admire. Also a big lover of Swarovski montees I learnt the difference between a 'Rose' montee and a 'chaton'  montee yesterday.  One is never too old to learn.

Helena and I formed a Facebook friendship over the last couple of years, sharing information and commenting on each other's work. Yesterday, meeting Helena in person, was like catching up with an old friend, even though it was the first time we had met. That is something I really love about Facebook.

Yesterday's class was small in numbers and I had met 4 of the 5 ladies before.  Helena shared information in a very relaxed manner, making the class seem effortless.

I was very fortunate to see Helena's Battle of the Beadsmith 2012 piece - the one with the beetle wings -  along with another she had done and changed her mind about.

Very unique creations with a charming mix of embroidery and bead-weaving. I enjoyed being surprised seeing where she placed her clasps, most original. 

Below is the Lady Madeleine's necklace centrepiece I learnt to make in class. I finished the bale part this morning. Now I need to make the rope and attach it.

If you ever get the chance to meet and learn from Helena do not hesitate. 
It is a great experience I am very glad to have had.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Introducing "Sunny" - A Fluoro flower Pendant and Rope

I made this awhile ago and recently proposed a new class format to the college I teach at. I suggested we try a two evening class for teaching "Sunny" and they accepted the idea.

We weren't sure if the class was going ahead until 3 days beforehand so I was in a frenzy to write the 
tutorial and get everything done in time. Luckily I managed to get most of the centrepiece tutorial finished in time to teach and the rest was ready for the second evening's class.

I must say I was very pleased to see the end result of the class and I believe the students were also happy with everything.

I shall be attempting more of this kind of teaching in future.

Click on the picture to visit my tutorial shop.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Perfect Connection - working with FireLine

Hello and thank you for visiting.
I want to share some of the "tricks" I use when working with FireLine. I have already shared this on the Bead Mavens blog and thought I would show it here also for anyone not going to the Mavens. 

I started beadweaving in 2007 and was taught to use Nymo.  I became pretty proficient with Nymo but was not happy with how it shredded, how hard it sometimes could be to thread the needle and I didn't like how you always had so many threads to sew down when you had finished your creation. Then I purchased Diane Fitzgerald's book Shaped Beadwork and she talked about using a thread called FireLine. 

Berkley FireLine is a nylon thread used for fishing, can be purchased in 1lb, 2lb, 4lb, 6lb, 8lb strengths which are ideal for bead weaving and even higher strengths which can be used for bead stringing. FireLine fishing line comes in Crystal (white), Smoke (grey/black), Fluoro Lime Green, Fluoro Pink and now Berkley is releasing reels in limited colours aimed at beaders. I am primarily a beadweaver so I will talk about the main threads I use - 4lb and 6lb weights.

Diane Fitzgerald taught - on pages 14-15 of her book - how to not have a tail in your beadwork, securing a knot by melting the ends of the thread with a cigarette lighter. I used this technique one day, started weaving and almost finished a round when I realised I had the wrong count. Frustrated with the mistake I tried to pull the ring of beads apart. It would not come apart and I came close to cutting my hands.
That was when I realised a way of joining two pieces of Fireline together and I have been doing it ever since.


Things to remember:
1) when melting, take the FireLine end towards the base of the flame, NOT the top
2) do not make the 'blobs' of melted FireLine too large. 
3) do not allow the FireLine to catch alight as it becomes brittle and breaks easily
4) the reef knot does not need to be tight, just loosely pulled together.
If you are having trouble viewing the video, below is a You Tube link to try

When I teach this to my students often they are unable to pull the blobs together fearing breaking the thread. Give it a good tug and it should slide together. If it still won't slide then the reef knot you tied is possibly not allowing it to happen and you may need to try again. 

A 'blob' join in 4lb FireLine will travel through size 15s - yes size 15s!!

NOTE: if I already have a lot of thread passes I do not use a 'blob' join as you may break beads pulling the join through. Be discerning when to use this type of join and when NOT to use it.

I have also used a 'blob' join with 6lb FireLine and size 15/0s but I don't like to push my luck as you may have success for nine beads and then the tenth bead may break - very annoying. A 6lb Fireline 'blob' join is fine for size 11/0s and larger seed beads.  

Which brings me to my next "trick" - JOINING IN MORE FIRELINE.

If the area won't take a 'blob' join I melt a blob on a new thread, thread my needle with the other end. I choose an out-of-sight area, sew through a few beads, pull the thread through until the blob catches - do not tug it through - I sew a half hitch knot, pass through a few more beads, sew another half hitch knot and continue to exit where my old work thread is. I then tie the new and old threads with a reef knot and sew down my old work thread. The blob will not pass through the half hitch knots and you have a secure join.

I get pretty frustrated with 'tails' when I start beading, without fail I seem to get the tail tangled in my work. Whenever I can I make a join that does away with tails. 

FINISHING AND SEWING DOWN. As we know some ending threads manage to unravel after a period of being worn and handled. When sewing down FireLine I do the usual few half hitch knots, when I cut my thread I cut leaving about 3-4mm showing (1/8") I then use my lighter to quickly melt that small amount into a blob which disappears into your work. This melting hinders the thread from unravelling. NOTE: I do not use this ending near galvanised beads as I have had some change colour. Again be discerning when to use this method and when not to use it.

Every beader I have taught these methods to has never looked back and I am always thanked for sharing this information.  Give it a go on a practice piece and see for yourself how it really does work.
You have nothing to loose and everything to gain.

Happy Beading

All videos were taken by my dear friend Neva Brown of Nifty Creations, also a talented bead artist.

Monday, October 14, 2013

When you are discouraged

I have a friend who tries very hard to make and sell her jewellery. Currently she is very discouraged and asked me what I did whenever I felt discouraged. This is what I wrote to her.

I know what it is like to feel very discouraged. We take so much time and passion to make our designs and they seem wonderful to us and people say they are nice but no one buys them. I found that really hard to comprehend when I started being creative years ago. They rave about your work, yet do nothing about it. 

I have almost given up beading a few times in the 6 years I have been weaving. One time I didn't touch beads for 4 months because I was so disgusted with it. Then I realised that I was missing doing something that I really loved doing. I also realised that every time I focused on making money I began to resent making jewellery and became very unhappy and disheartened again. I learnt this lesson a few times.

I decided that I was going to just enjoy designing and making jewellery and not focus on the money side. I was fortunate enough not to have to worry about the money. I thought I don't care what my friends say I am going to be happy and just make stuff and when I die my family will find a house full of jewellery.

It was then I became happy and continued playing and enjoying myself. Funny thing though I made sales every so often, I have not spent my own money for a few years now. Jewellery pays for itself, I have heaps of stock to use and some money in the bank, not a lot but I can buy whatever beads I want. So what I am saying to you my friend is just enjoy the love of being creative, don't focus on the money as it will kill your creativity.
I am not a religious man but I do believe in Divine Design and a Higher Power. I also believe when you channel a vibration of passion the Universe or God or serendipity - whatever you want to call it - supports passion and synchronicity happens. Also when people witness passion they want to have some of it and that often translates into a sale or a recommendation or help. 

So, my friend, enjoy what you love to do and leave the consequences to the Higher Power, you may be amazed at what happens.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tapestry of Crystals

Today I released a new tutorial in my Tapestry Series. This makes number 7 
and possibly the last as it is time to move on.

I call this latest release 
"Tapestry of Crystals"
Click on the large image above to go to my tutorial shop.

Rich bands of dark navy, purple and old gold Preciosa Ornela twin beads with AB green seed beads - flashing pink and gold - joined using Swarovski cyclamen opal bicones. 
This sure is a sparkler that will bring attention, interest and many a compliment. 
Copy and paste the link below if you wish to see more details.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Introducing "Pharaoh"

Here is my latest necklace design, with its resemblence to Egyptian neck collars of old and its very masculine square lines has prompted me to name it "Pharaoh".
Ancient Egyptian jewellery was beautiful, ornate and sometimes overdone in the times of the Pharaohs and jewellery served copious purposes. At times, merely vainglorious ornamentation more often than not, however, jewellery, baubles and trinkets were worn to either symbolise the wearer's prestige and eminence, or to act as religious protection against evil spirits and the fickleness of luck.
The Pharaohs were notorious for showing their wealth, all wore beautiful jewellery and lots of it.

I had fun in coming up with a way to introduce the necklace and wanted my picture to look
like a postcard from Egypt. I think I succeeded - some local  travel agents are without a few travel catalogues. Below is another example of how I presented my new design for those who prefer.

Maybe this piece is something to wear whilst floating down the Nile?. What a luscious thought.

A tutorial for the necklace, a pendant and for earrings will follow from this design.