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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bugle Bead Bother

The August/September 2014 issue of Beadwork had a pattern by Sara Oehler for beaded beads, made from bugles and size 8s woven together in Russian spiral stitch, with the suggestion that the tube could be extended long enough to make a bangle.  I have lots of bugle beads just waiting to be used, so this seemed like a good idea.

Only, very few of them were suitable.  Some were too big, others varied too much in size and quality, still others were in a color I wasn't crazy about.  One kind was perfect -- pretty color, right size, consistent quality -- but there were far too few of them.  Finally, rooting through a bag of vintage beads a friend gave me, I found some black 6mm ones that paired nicely with red size 8s:

But the resulting bangle would be thicker than I wanted, so I switched to a 4mm size.  But then the only bugles suitable for that were orange, not a favorite color of mine.  Still, I paired them with teal beads and got a decent bracelet with a slinky feel:
Maybe I'll sell it.

Meanwhile, I still wanted a bangle I'd be excited to wear, so I tried again, this time with two size 11s to take the place of the inadequate bugles.  I used various turquoise shades left over from my Gee's Bend cuff and cheery yellow 8s. I like this one a lot better.


A construction note: the first round has an extra size 8, I'm sure for a very good reason (Oehler is a professional, after all), but I couldn't see why and it offended my sense of symmetry. It also made zipping the ends of the tube together awkward, which you can see in the orange bracelet detail above.  When I did the yellow and turquoise one I omitted the extra bead, which caused a bit of confusion in the initial rounds (I guess that was the reason, although there must be a way around it; I have to think more about the geometry) but led to a neater closure.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tag!

Floresita "tagged" me, so I guess it's my turn.

What are you working on?

I've been on a beading kick lately, but I always have a few needlework projects going.  Like this:
It's a vintage crewel pattern by Blanche Virgien, to make a bag.  The daisies are supposed to be done in white and cream wool, but that bright yellow was screaming for bright flowers.

And there's this:
Beadboy3's Christmas stocking, which I'd better keep working on if I want it actually finished by Christmas Eve.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I'm not sure it does, except perhaps in its eclecticness -- I faithfully follow others' designs, or use them as a starting point, or create my own.  I work in bright colors, or neutrals, or dark and rich colors.  I use pretty much any kind of fiber and canvas, and I'll try almost any technique or stitch once.  The upside is that I never get bored; the downside is that I never become really good at any one skill.

Why do you create what you do?

Because I have to.  I love working with my hands and creating something beautiful, and if I go too long without picking up a needle, I get itchy and lost.  As my mom says, it's my therapy.

How does your creative process work?

In different ways.  Sometimes I can trace the exact thought processes that lead to a finished project, and sometimes my inspiration is amorphous and not readily obvious.  Sometimes I have a very clear idea of what I want to do, and sometimes the design evolves drastically as I work on it.

Now it's your turn!

I found Olisa at Cocoaeyes years ago, when she kindly made a felt alien ornament for me to give to my brother.  Lately she's been working on some incredible geometric projects mixing thread and watercolors.

Lisa at A Cuppa Tea with Me has all sorts of amazing embroidery -- floral girly stuff, pop culture treats, and some saucy designs.

Finally, Jo at Serendipitous Stitching finds the neatest cross stitch designs.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Round-Up

Panic Button by Kylie Logan:The third installation in the series, and I don't have much to say except it was as enjoyable as expected.  Also, now I want a button charm string.

Threadbare by Monica Ferris:Also enjoyable, with a good mystery that was neither too predictable nor too implausible.  The education in homelessness was laudable, if heavy-handed.  What wasn't laudable was an extended advertisement for a sizeable needlecraft store in North Dakota.

State Fair by Earlene Fowler:A recent addition to another cozy, quilty mystery series, set in a farming and ranching community in California.  What sets this series apart is the very real kindness Fowler has towards all her characters; in her world, people are bundles of positive traits, serious and not so serious flaws, and contradictory behaviors.   She is not afraid to depict complicated characters capable of both good and evil in serious and petty matters, making her stories that much more satisfying.

A Case of Curiosities by Allen Kurzweil:Mostly set in France just before the revolution, about a young artist and inventor fascinated by mechanical works, the book tells his life from the start of his education to the creation of his masterpiece.  The structure mirrors both the case of curiosities that is the title -- a box of nine ordinary objects representing key periods of his life -- and the watch which indirectly starts him on his journey.  The idea of summing up a life in a collection of objects whose symbolism is only apparent to the collector is neat, and I enjoyed seeing what the significance was of the different objects (the watch structure, on the other hand, I didn't even notice until it was spelled out at the end).

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

An Armful of Stretchy Bracelets

I found this in my jewelry box:

and it was so lonely, I had to make more:

I strung the beads on stretchy elastic and tied a double surgeon's knot.  The ones with silver charms also got a crimp bead to squish the cord down, and for good measure I dabbed on a bit of glue to the knots (I'm always afraid the knots in these kinds of bracelets will untie, although they never have).

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Seashore Curio Necklace


The idea came several years ago from Martha Stewart, but I got a beachy vibe from the project, perfect for the sea glass and shells I've collected over the years, plus other assorted charms and beads:

The first step was drilling holes in the glass and shells, which turned into quite the project itself.  I tried first with my normal drill bits, going slowly and keeping the glass and tip of the drill bit submerged in water, and it took forever -- at least an hour of steady drilling to get a hole in one measly piece.  That caused quite a delay as I researched drilling glass, realized I needed diamond-tipped drill bits, tracked down an affordable source for them, and got distracted by myriad other projects.

A over a year later I tried again, and what a difference the proper tools made!  It still took 10-1 minutes per glass shard (substantially less for the shells), because I didn't want to rush and risk overheating or shattering (one broke anyway), but that was much more manageable.  The results:


The drill bit had a completely flat tip:
 and experts recommended starting the hole with a domed bit, but I was not about to buy another one.  Instead I started drilling at an angle, to create a divot, and then repositioned the drill perpendicular to the surface.  If you look closely, you can see that my inexpert control resulted in a little "etching" on some pieces.

Once the drilling was done, I set the project aside again to work on other stuff, and finally picked it up again a few weeks ago.  I cut out a linen crescent and started sewing on in layers glass, shells, beads, charms, fabric doodads, ribbon, buttons, and anything else that struck my fancy:




Once I was happy with the look, I used fabric glue to attach it to a backing piece of linen:
and attached ribbon ties, and frayed the edges as per M.S.  This was a great project to use some of the beach glass and shells I've accumulated, not to mention other charms and beads and even some heshi strands and carved shell birds I bought ages ago and forgot about.

A few favorite details:




This looks like a flip-flop:

Of course, I can't actually wear this necklace, at least not while I'm in proximity to Beadboy3, who's in the grab-everything-and-shove-it-in-his-mouth phase.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A is for Assisi Embroidery

For the third letter in my alphabet series, I used my take on Assisi embroidery.

A is a mauvy-pinky-purply color, like a henley shirt I had as a teenager.  That shirt is long gone, but I have a beach towel that's almost the same shade.  I cut out a 2 by 3 inch rectangle from the edge and zigzagged the edges a couple of times, with a variegated quilting thread.

I also stay-stitched the cut-out, so the towel wouldn't unravel.

I then sketched out an A in a blue wash-out marker and started stitching:
Traditionally, in Assisi embroidery the motif is outlined with a back stitch or Holbein stitch, and the background is filled in with cross stitch, but why be traditional?  I used seed and straight stitches to fill in the background, using Caron Collections' Watercolours and Wildflowers threads in African Sunset (so pretty).

A close up:


Friday, June 13, 2014

A Festive Necklace

While in Jo-Ann's for some fabric, I couldn't resist a strand of colorful plastic beads.  When I got home I paired them with a bunch of charms, vaguely Latin-themed:
The end result:
The necklace is a bit stiff around my neck, and the charms don't dangle as freely as I'd like, so I plan to wear it a few times and see if I need to remake it (that's what I get for rushing to finish it so I could wear it to a party).