Thursday, July 28, 2016

Beading down Memory Lane

Being a woman of middle years, I came late to the digital revolution.  Back in the mid-90s, when colleagues at the college where I teach were getting online I held out:  e-mail and all that stuff was a time-sucker and a fad.  Then of course I bit the bullet but resisted switching over from Netscape to IE back in the day.  And no Moodle for me and my courses, thank you very much. And as God was my witness I was never going to own a cellphone or have a Facebook page. Ah well…the irony is that every time I gave in and tried the new thing my response was the same: "Why did I wait so long? I love this!" Convenience doth make devotees of us all.

Where was I? Oh yes, the same goes for beadwork. Those of us who have been beading awhile can see the fads, the vogues, the revivals. When I began beading in the early 1990s amulet bags were all the rage. I well remember the Bead and Button issue (August 1994) that featured Carol Wilcox Wells' beaded bags and how to make one.

Up to that point, as usual, I had resisted the Delica siren call. I didn't want to invest more money in a new type of bead (yeah, this was a long time ago, I know better now). But I wanted to make a bag and Delicas, with their mosaic effect, were amazing to look at.  So I caved in, bought some, and made my first bag based on Carol's article.  I decided to use a repeating pattern so I could focus on the stitch and here is the result:

I call it "Prom Dress" as the fringe (I got a little carried away) made a fancy flaring skirt on the body of the bag.

And here's another photo showing my weak tension.  I could have had a nice job beading watches for Salvador Dali to paint.

   On the other hand, there are times when I wish I could summon up my younger beading self because tight tension does not always a successful piece of beadwork make. Gentle beading indeed!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bead Addiction 

I spend a lot of my hard-earned cash on beads and every now and then make attempts to retrench. As with trying to lose weight, both are equally futile undertakings, generally.

I have pursued other arts and crafts. A trip through my bead room reveals an elephant's graveyard of passions past: rotting plastic canvas, snarls of  DMC floss, pockmarked stretcher boards, shedding Styrofoam balls and pearl cotton (from my temari days).  But beads eventually swamped and drowned my other interests, and their remnants on occasion were ruthlessly abandoned to local yard and charity sales (though I have hung on to the giant cross-stitch pattern of a lady and unicorn medieval tapestry, because You Never Know). 

A couple of times in my odyssey I have broken with beadwork, even became a tad bored with it, though in retrospect it all seems part of the process of developing an addiction.  An addiction to working in a wonderful, creative field of art and craft, but still, I was caught.

The most recent time I swore off beads came not from boredom but fright. Back in 2008 when I had first discovered Etsy in a big way I began buying, buying, BUYING. I set up a Paypal account and away I went.

Then one day I got a notice from Paypal that I was well on my way to reaching my spending limit, at which time I would have to get "verified" so they could help themselves directly to my bank account rather than continue paying by credit card.  I was shocked, shocked, that I had spent so much money on beads.  I went on the wagon and swore off buying and beading, cold sweat, the GT's (globus tremens), everything.

I fell back on my first love, needlework, and started a fairly involved design I had bought in a nostalgic visit to a needlework show - a last fling with an old flame. 

How long did it last before the siren call of beads and that voice in my head prevailed?  That tells me it's OK to eat that extra slice of pizza and respond with enthusiasm to that online blowout bead sale? I went back and checked my records and it looks like it was… 6 weeks?  That may have been when I realized Hello, my name is Kay, and I'm a bead addict. I haven't looked back.

My needlework past does contribute to my beading present though. Here's one example where I used one of my books on bargello stitch to graph the pattern for this split-loom necklace:

And just remember: you can never be too rich, too thin, or have an adequate bead stash.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Big Bead Treatment

The past couple of posts I've shown you beading with large beads and beaded components. Having messed around with this technique to my satisfaction, I flitted went on to other beading ventures. But it formed a chapter in my beading life that came back to pleasantly haunt me.

Later on, when I was trying to find a way to use the biggest Czech spike beads in a design, those 18x12mm howitzers, that caging technique came in handy. I also used some more of the big turquoise faceted beads I had left over from my original caged bead project. This is deeply satisfying to a beader - using things up. It gives us a sense of virtue (waste not) and an excuse to buy more beads (want not).

Here’s the result. I call it my Big Bead Odyssey:

And a close up:

OK, that's it on caging big beads.  I’ve scratched that itch to last awhile.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bead Fever

In my last post I showed a variation on caging large beads with beaded components. Here's another one.

Why? Because no beader can ever bead just one version of something, they have to bead more. Part of this is the fever of acquisition. You get into the moment of learning something new with cool colors and embellishments and suddenly you have to have a stash of beads to create more with them right now.  In the old days you went to the craft store or waited impatiently for the newest bead catalogue to arrive (which some companies made you buy, can you believe that?).

The internet has had a deplorably enabling effect on this impulse, which has contributed to the beggared state of my bank account. But what a thrill to acquire shiny new beads, and accent beads to go with, maybe books and patterns, and before you know it, you have created a new classification in the Dewey Decimal system of your bead room. Mine is more of a Demented Decimal system, but, like my office at work, I know where everything is.

So, having figured out how to cage my large beads between beaded components, I wanted more large beads. I found these faceted turquoise-colored beads at a bead show and have a feeling I was probably overcharged for them, but I loved the color and, well, bead show:  the beading equivalent of an opium den.

Nice color, eh? And these photos definitely do not do it justice. 

I again used Aleta Ford Baker’s “Indespiral” pattern for the strap, and you can find her tutorial here.

Here’s a close up of the strap join:

Next time: So what else can I do with all these big beads I bought?