Saturday, January 10, 2009

Want versus Should

I know I'm pretty self-indulgent when it comes to doing what I want to do, as opposed to what I should be doing, especially in the face of Really Not Very Good Class Enrollment at Bead Fest Santa Fe, but this time, I am working on class samples and instructions.
What I really want to be working with is this:
Seriously, do you blame me? Are those colours not gorgeous? I think the marquise stone is some sort of agate (most things seem to be agates or jaspers, with agates on the translucent side and jaspers less so. Usually. I think) and it's probably heat-treated to get those lovely warm shades of cranberry (a more grown-up shade than "pink"), but I love it anyway. And I have fabulous seed beads to use with it and a really fun idea which I'd rather be prototyping, but still, I'm working on class instructions.

I suppose it's also time to start working on supplies for both the classes as well as the Meet the Teachers reception, which I hope will make the trip out less of an expense, though I suppose if it ends up being just a vacation, how bad could that be? I'll get to spend time with Phreadde and Dan as well as some beading friends and hello, I'll be in Santa Fe, which even absent Bead Fest has more soaring creativity (both in terms of realization as well as inspiration) per square foot than most places, so I'm looking forward to the trip no matter what.

Meanwhile, more Shameless Commerce in the way of patterns.

A couple of years ago I had this idea for a series of related designs worked around basic geometric shapes. The plan was to combine a few flat shapes to form a three-dimensional pendant to be used as an earring, and then a three-dimensional open shape to be used as a donut for slider (as in on a necklace).
The triangle worked fabulously well, and you can fool around with colour patterning on each piece.
I love the look of the threader earrings, but they don't work as well as might be hoped if the holes in your ears are in any way stretched out, as mine are (from too many heavy dangle earrings, not those scary things which allow people to see clear through to the other side of your ear-lobe. Those make me a little queasy).

Perhaps the U-shaped threaders would be more stable. Any ear-wire would work, though I like the swinginess of having them on a chain.

When I make up kits, I include one if those silky necklace cords so that the slider can be worn Right Away, but I think many beaders would rather bead the perfect carrier themselves; the necklace cord is insurance against my being wrong. Or for it. How does that work?

Geometry Origami: Triangles Pattern:  $7.50 for PDF emailed to you

   Japanese size 11 seed beads (or Delicas) in 2 colours
   Ear wires or threaders
   Necklace for the slider
   Your favourite beading thread
   Size 10 needle

Then I played around with the rhombus, which we tend to think of as a diamond shape.
You can join three (or four, as shown here) to make a bicone-shaped pendant, which seemed to need ruffles around its middle, which inexplicably makes me think of the hippos in tutus from Fantasia.
Naturally the donut slider needed a tutu as well.

I like to use Czech seed beads for the ruffles as I think their rounder shape really lends itself well to beadwork in which the beads have to compete for space in a sort of organic and seemingly unstructured way, where the squarer, more regular Japanese seeds do better in a more structured format. Delicas would also work well here.

Geometry Origami: Diamonds Pattern: $9 for PDF emailed to you

Japanese size 11 seed beads (or delicas)
Czech size 11 seed beads
Ear wires
Necklace for the slider
Your favourite beading thread
Size 10 needle

None of the other shapes really yielded anything I liked quite as much, though I haven't completely given up.

One of the beading magazines a few years ago had a bangle pattern using cube seed beads. I thought it was a great idea and promptly made it up and hated it, mostly because it didn't hold its shape - and I'm a tight beader. By that I mean that I tend to bead using tight tension. 

The use of seed beads, while definitely necessary to create a curve, didn't produce the right curve either - and my tight tension, while doing nothing for the stiffness of the finished piece, also highlighted this bad curve.

A bangle just isn't a bangle if it's completely floppy, so I set out to make something more structurally sound.

What I ended up with is a pretty stiff bangle that uses Japanese cubes and Czech seed beads and an unusual thread path for tubular herringbone. It works up fairly quickly (each bangle isn't a multi-week vacation from family life) and even though my samples all use regular repeating colour patterns (and the instructions include charts for same), I've also made a very attractive bangle with oddments of leftover cube beads.
The holes on the cube beads are also big enough that if you have trouble maintaining tight tension, you can needle through the beadwork a few more times to stiffen it up.

I know it's winter right now here in the northern hemisphere, but I've always liked the look of an armful (read "more than one") of bangles on a summer wrist.

Bangalicious Pattern: $6 for PDF emailed to you

   4mm cube seed beads in 4 colours (or more. Or fewer)
   Size 11 Czech seed beads
   Your favourite beading thread
   Size 10 needle

Two notes about the beads: 
  1. Don't use Japanese seed beads. They're quite a bit bigger than Czech, and the curve of the bangle will be much tighter, so the bangle will end up smaller. If this is your desire, go ahead and experiment, but it may end up too small for an adult.
  2. Cull your cubes ruthlessly. Even though Japanese seed beads in general tend to be pretty regular, the cubes tend not to be. Throw away beads that vary in size from the average, and that have sloped or sharp edges. There seems to be a fair amount of breakage quite often, and those sharp edges will cut your thread, apart from the fact that a broken bead is smaller than it should be.

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