Thursday, June 30, 2016

Running With It 

Last post I showed you how I figured out how to use a large art bead by caging it between two beaded components.  I had some other large beads that I enjoyed admiring but didn't know what to do with and, well, now I did.

Around the same time, my beading buddies Bobbi, Karen and I were working through some of the patterns in Rachel Nelson-Smith's Bead Riffs. Her "Groove" pattern of six-sided earrings uses a built-up Right Angle Weave variation. It gave me the idea of making a five-sided unit with a netted inside "spoke" that would hold and keep stable a large bead.

Here's the result, a bead spacer for large (18 x 61mm) beads.

Here's a close up:

The strap is Aleta Ford Baker's "Indespiral" variation on tubular peyote stitch. You can find her tutorial here. It was fun figuring out how to attach this spiraling peyote tube to the beads and spacers for a seamless (well mostly) look. I did run a length of 14 gauge wire through the beads and spacers for more strength and stability, creating a loop at each end, which I covered with beads.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Little History

One big motive for starting this blog is that I have reached a point where I feel I have something worth saying and showing about beadwork. I began beading before the digital age, and subscribed to Bead and Button within the first few months of its appearing on the shelves in the mid-90s (back then it was found in places like Walden Books and B. Dalton). I taught myself out of its pages and by scouring bookstores and craft sales for other resources.

When the web came along I did bead swaps on Seed Bead Frenzy, my first experience with the wonderful online beading community, and found a local beading group through a listserv (South Central PA Beaders and didn't we have ourselves some great bead-ins).  Now I'm sticking my big toe into what is, for me anyway, the next new thing - writing a blog and sharing my work and my ideas on the web. I have gotten so much from my fellow beadwrights - from the magazines to bootleg Russian patterns (yes, I do confess to downloading some) to preordering the latest book by a favorite bead artist.

Some topics I hope to talk about in a semi-regular way:

Beading mashups. I learned a great deal from making other designers' projects and am always looking at how I can adapt and apply the techniques I learn.

Design challenges.  These might be challenges in figuring out a color palette, dealing with odd-sized beads or other bumps in the creative road that turned out well (or ill).

Memory Lane.  I’ve been beading long enough for that path to stretch quite a distance. 

Inspired By… Featuring images that got me creating and the result.

Today - a design challenge. I love peacock motifs and fell for an art bead that featured them several years ago at a bead show. Sad to say, I do not remember who made it (if anyone who sees this has an idea, I'd love to hear from you). 

Most of us with a bead stash are familiar with the ritual of taking out our collection of art beads, gazing fondly at them…and putting them away again.  I have a drawer (OK, drawers) full of these and it is always an achievement when I figure out a way to create a piece of jewelry around them.  I really wanted to wear this bead and on my ramblings through my files I found a pattern that gave me the answer.

Here's the original design, and you can find the pattern here.

I call it the Satellite Pendant because it looks a bit like a UFO. It is basically two fancy bead caps stitched together, but it struck me that my bead would fit very well between the two caps.

But I also needed to anchor the big bead to each cap somehow, so I used size 15 seed beads to join the two halves to each other with the big bead sandwiched between. This also would stabilize the peacock bead - it's a big bead - so it wouldn't wobble around.

Here's the result:

I wore this later to a bead show and one of the exhibitors identified the artist and said "she's here and you need to show her that."  So I did and the artist gave me the ultimate compliment of snapping a photo, saying she really liked what I had done with her bead.  This is the "ahhh" in beading, when you get it right.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Hello, and welcome to my blog, The Gentle Beader.  Beads are calming, despite the views of non-beading folk (shall we call them buggles?), who invariably ask when viewing the work of a bead artist "how do you have the patience to do that?"

Beading isn't about patience.  I save my patience for other things in life that really need it. I sink blissfully into beading the way a dog sighs after that third turn of her tail and flops down.  If I have a mantra it is "Ahhhh….beading." The kind of challenge beads and bead designing offer me turns frustration into giddy exploration and lights my creative fires.

The Gentle Beader also evokes “The Gentle Reader" and I like that association with an earlier, less hurried way of living. The hurly-burly of the connected age can be overwhelming - beads persuade me to slow down and appreciate what I am making. Beads are gentle and endlessly repay my fascination with them.

Here's a piece I recently finished. I love bead embroidery and had some leftover beads from another project.  Using my favorite bead stitch, Cubic Right Angle Weave (CRAW), I joined a length of CRAW squares into an oval to serve as the frame, tacked it down on a square of Easy Felt, filled it, and then created a scalloped edging using herringbone weave.

                                                   I call this my "Basket o' Beads" pin.

I should note that I am not a Gentle Photographer but am learning, slowly, to take decent photos of my work. This has been the biggest hurdle to, well, everything - blogging, sharing, teaching - all the things I'd like to do more of as I bead along.

Thanks for reading and see you around the beading universe.