Monday, August 31, 2009

Really, I Have No Shame

I was sort of noseying around my computer, looking at pictures of projects from classes I've taught, and there are plenty which people really enjoyed, and which are now done with, and I hate for the work that went into writing the instructions to just fall to dust, but I'm not sure they're necessarily worth kitting up, so I thought I'd offer up another pattern.
For those whose peyote is loosey-goosey, I'll tell you right now, your bracelet won't look anything like these pictures.
The key is tight, tight tension so that the fabric ripples in three dimensions instead of only two.
It's not hard (says she who could quite easily blister her fingers with thread so tight it almost cuts), but if it's not your natural steady state, this is great practise for tension control.
I maintain that once you've mastered the basics of a stitch, you need to determine at what tension it works best for your project, and then you need to train yourself to adjust tension as appropriate.

Three-dimensional hollow beaded beads demand tight tension, flat cuff bracelets may not.

Although most of my students chose a single colour in each size, as you can see, you can vary shades and finishes within a colour group, should you find yourself in the position of having sizeable collections with little to distinguish one from the other.

What I foolishly did not photograph is the closure: a toggle and buttonhole that sort of mimics the look of the toggle, so that it looks like a pair of toggles, and is pretty secure.

Ripples Bracelet Pattern: $6 for PDF emailed to you

Size 11 seed beads
Size 8 seed beads
Size 6 seed beads
Your favourite beading needle
Your favourite beading thread


When I go to a bead show at which I'm teaching and selling kits (they have a Meet the Teachers reception at Bead Fest Portland, at which you can buy kits from the instructors from classes you can't attend or are not being offered at that event) I like to introduce at least one new kit (I haven't made final decisions yet) as well as new colourways for existing kits.

My Pearl Ruffle kit has been really popular, but all the colours were cool jewel tones - because of the pearls I was able to find in the appropriate size and shape - until I finally managed to find some fabulous soft green pearls, which have managed to miss the last show or two due probably to procrastination, to be honest.

This past weekend I finally managed to complete the sample in that colour, ready to bring to Portland, but I was so impatient that I decided to offer it on Etsy RIGHT NOW.

Is that bad?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Not Nothing

My daughter really liked this,
so I made another one for the class sample (and incidentally - they should thank me - used a store-bought component instead of a piece of sawed-off-by-me copper tubing and brass chain from the hardware store) that will sit in the case until February so that she could have the first set now.
And I made a second class sample for this one too - they'll sit in the display case together.
I like design ideas that are jumping-off points rather than my-way-or-the-highway designs. Sometimes I hit on something which is pretty complete (in my mind at least) and doesn't readily lend itself (or my mind gets caught in an infinite loop perhaps) and once I make it, that's it, nowhere to go, but I get excited about structures that are all about the what-if, and for me, this one is that.

And Bead Fest is fast approaching, so I worked up the final colourway for this class.

The kits I sell are too related in my mind, saturated jewel tones, so I hope the two new colourways for the show (I did an earthy one a couple of weeks ago) have broader appeal.

In twenty minutes I must go for a very brisk walk to prepare myself for a day of eating, um spinning (I'm bringing Chilled Blueberry Soup, which I guess is somewhere between a smoothie, an appetizer, or a between-entree-and-dessert palate-refresher. I thought it the least interesting of my offerings, but I asked for votes, so there it is). I hope the dynamic won't be too altered given the additional participants.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's Been A Week

No, not since I last posted (Tuesday), just in the "ohboywhattaweek" kind of way.

My daughter turned nineteen yesterday. Scary stuff in a "pinch me" kind of way.

Even though I managed to finagle an extension on my deadline (which reminds me: I have jpegs and descriptions to email before I go to bed), it's been intense. Samples are due by Friday, but waiting until the open house at the bead store means they're scrambling to put my samples in the class display case with a shop full of people, and that's not fair, and I'd prefer to not have to go there during the week, which leaves tomorrow.

I think I've made it.
Actually, I almost wish this bracelet wasn't destined to be in a glass case for the next five months, as I really like the colours. Realistically though, I'd like it even better if it were a necklace, and as none of the beads are in short supply in the stash, this is in theory something perfectly doable, apart from the fact that there are samples and samples and kits and samples and instructions and samples to work on through the last week of September.

At work there's Stuff going on too, about which I have mixed emotions, and which has the effect of demotivating my team as we dissolve into silliness every hour or so.

It's something like being released from a bad marriage in which you stayed because you had a great house and car and ate out all the time and your relatives relied on your being able to help them out, but you weren't really treated all that well, and while you might not actually file for divorce, you kinda wish you weren't in it.

And then you receive notification of your impending freedom, and really, the relatives are back on their feet again, and housing is a buyer's market and you've heard about these cars that are up for grabs, so really, ultimately, it's heady stuff.

Back at home there's a Visit which has the effect of more baggage and history and togetherness than I'd ordinarily choose, cutting into my me-me-me time (which I tend to like), so it's been a week.

I'm anticipating two more pretty much the same.

Please excuse my behaviour in the near future. So far I've held it together, but there could well be a meltdown.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On A Roll

Ignore the rope. It doesn't match; it's just a place-holder.

Timewise, this is probably the ideal length for a class project: it took me under an hour, from the time I opened my drops and daggers drawer and picked these copper daggers, to the time I uploaded the pictures onto my computer, with barely any hesitation start to finish.

I had the concept, my plan was true to life (this really isn't always true as I've had some extremely elaborate and well thought out plans with sketches, bead counts, thread paths and bead colour numbers, and fifteen minutes into execution I realise that I was horribly off-base. Live and learn), and my spur-of-the-moment estimates of numbers of rows and columns proved pleasing. To me.

So this is a necklace slider, good on a string of pearls or chunky beads, or on a ribbon or scarf.

I think most people will complete it in class.

Perhaps, time permitting, I'll make one of my usual monochrome samples, possibly varying the fringe.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Geometry Turns to Nature

Well, ok, perhaps a bit of a stretch, that.

In seed beading, it's really easy and natural to make an equilateral triangle. The proportions of the sizes of the beads to the rate of change of stacked increases (three every round) just leads there easily: a nice, flat triangle. To be fair, if the triangle gets beyond a certain size (and not a very big size), it begins to buckle.

Hexagons work pretty well too, in terms of flat. Increase six stitches every third round.

Squares and rectangles, not so much. The increases are a bit odd. The edges ruffle. If you're making a narrow square or rectangular donut you can often get away with four increases per round, but as soon as you have too much surface area, the square becomes three-dimensional.

As does a pentagon, only more so, as you can imagine.

I had a thought about a folded pentagon last week, but the fold was ugly and almost lewd. A little grotesque. I cut it up.

A few days later I saw a better way to fold a beaded pentagon, which lead to little ideas in terms of colour placement and edge detailing, and so it turns out that if you fold a perfectly wavery pentagon you get something that's a somewhat stylized butterfly.
Or perhaps an orchid.

From another planet.

Who knew?

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Turns out it really wasn't so hard to figure out what to do with them, though the base flower had to be modified somewhat since the bead store was severely lacking in the main bead (size and shape) on which the motif was based.

It's a bracelet. Floral.

I'm still alive, surviving.

And I even have another class sample done.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Running in Place

It's been a monstrously busy week - at least that's the way it feels since I've had what feels like seven or eight minutes of sleep, trying to get everything (and by that I mean "teaching beading related activities") done.

The thing is this: The Visit Of The Mother, now hours into its second day, as anticipated cuts into those hours I generally use to get stuff done.

My plan for the three weeks (four weekends) of the visit was to (a) make sure I didn't schedule any classes in that time, which means that my normal classes are squashed into Summer minus three weeks (four weekends), which naturally means less time to make class samples and write instructions. The reason for this was the expected chatter, which makes it difficult to concentrate well enough to explain things in such a way as to be useful to the people expecting to learn something from their handouts.

The (b) part of the plan involved getting completely ready for Bead Fest for which I leave two and a half weeks after she leaves, but that's been thrown for a loop by the next set of class proposals due a full SIX WEEKS (yes I'm shouting) before classes start whereas the classes for next February through May are due only mid-January (I'll give you a moment), two weeks before the start.

Yes, I'm whining.

Yes, I'm stressed.

Yes, I'm sleep-deprived because I've been working on ideas for classes.
Some of them have come to fruition.
Actually, I'm quite pleased with this one as I see interesting possibilities. One could play with colour gradations along the length (I have a fondness for same) and I think this might be an interesting support for lampwork beads. You know you have some. You know you were weak once or twice or seventeen or a few dozen times - at least I was.
This looks like an actual necklace doesn't it? Yeah, it's not, it's just a few links, but it gives the general idea well enough.

I'm really taken with these flowers, but will have to consider how best - how at all, actually - to use them. I've had some vague ideas which have not worked out in the slightest. There are always earrings, I suppose, but what'll they do for the remaining hour and a half?

I might just have to recycle some previous classes if I can't come up with enough new ideas that actually work when I follow the directions in my notes.

I might not have time to report on my progress much.

On the plus side, knitting is a useful fiddle while someone is speaking at you. I expect to complete at least two projects over the next three weeks (four weekends).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It's Perfectly True

Back when my kids were very small and I was then as now employed full-time, and still managed to get knitting, sewing, spinning done and cook meals from scratch and people would ask how I found the time to do so much, and I'd laugh and say "I prioritise: I don't clean!" (which is certainly true but misleading, since I pay someone to perform that odious task for me; it's not how I choose to spend my meagre spare time) but if pressed I'd say something about how the less time you have, the more efficient you are at making use of it and the more you could get done.

Anecdotally, this is true. I remember back when I was still married and my then sister-in-law came to stay for a couple of weeks, and I'd ask her about her day, and she'd tell me in detail, as if these things actually comprised activities worth describing when to me they were as interesting as brushing my teeth and equally worthy of being reported "I listened to a record, then I decided what to have for lunch, then I had a cigarette [outside], then I made lunch and listened to half of another record, then I had a cigarette [outside], then I had lunch, then I listened to the other side of the record and then you came home!"

I'm in the middle of an unusually (for me) busy weekend, replete with social engagements and kid-related errands (it's a tax-free weekend in Missouri and school starts in a week) and chores, and I did work out today, but all the same I'm smokin' on the class samples agenda.

First a reversible cabochon pendant, front
and back.

Then a couple of cute little stars on the end of a necklace. I had planned wait to buy some chain until Tuesday when I teach at the bead store, but there have been times where I've thought the hardware store was full of interesting things that could be used as findings, and it turns out that was true too.

They have brass chain, not terribly interesting but certainly serviceable. The copper connector is a slice of copper pipe from when I tried to make an earring tree of sorts from copper tubing and copper wire. I made it, but it's ugly and bad and unsteady and generally not very useful - but its remnants are much better.

Tomorrow spinners will be here, for whom I will make shrimp risotto (none of the other seafood at the store looked that appealing; I promised them a seafood risotto which implies more than one type of animal, but doesn't technically guarantee it) and then I'll work on the next class sample - I've almost finished picking out the beads, so I'm just about set.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Bad

Upon further reflection it may just be user error, or more accurately: user misconception, not to mention utter disregard for the written word for which I claim to have such reverence.

Here's the thing.

My thread burner? I found it on this web-site among the wax tools, and it was described as a "wax pen" but it looked exactly like a thread burner and was similarly priced, so I assumed it was one of those things repurposed for a niche market, the way some fishing lines have become very popular beading threads; so much so that they are repackaged as beading thread (and marked up commensurately of course).

So I thought it was with the so-called wax pen.

I thought nothing of the fact that there were no images of the single replacement tip, nor of the set of three replacement tips, further defined by a word I managed to neither see nor consider: "special". A set of three special tips for the wax pen. I think the two tips I thought were damaged are in fact special, but not in a short bus kind of way.

I bet people who like to melt wax (it reaches 870 degrees!) do think those tips are indeed special, and would be glad of them in their wax-melting endeavours.

I might be able to make them work, but I'm too embarrassed to consider returning them, especially as they work perfectly well for melting nylon beading thread. I suspect the maimed tips would work well too, and I will not try to straighten them because I know that is no less than asking for trouble, which I am not.

I'm just trying to keep ahead of the breakers.

So every now and again I get all panicky and talk about deadlines. This is not new, though for some odd and sad reason, the way they blindside me never fail to surprise and astonish me with their rudeness.

So it was with the email I received today, reminding me of class proposals for the months of October through December which are due on the sixteenth, which is just ten days away.

And here I was concentrating on the remaining two classes this month and next at the bead store, not to mention the four classes I'm teaching in Portland next month, not to mention kits and samples and new colourways and the overwhelmingness of all that.

New classes.

I completed an experiment which might even be successful. This has to be a record: mere hours from notification to "what'll I do" to "I think I have an idea" to realization of said idea. Could be worse.
It's a pendant which is actually purple, much to the disbelief of my camera. I should try another light setting.

I also finished the sample for my next class, and photographed all relevant steps for which I do not have schematics, and I rather like it, and am considering other colourways even as I grasp at the straws of new ideas for the next set of classes.

I have sketches, and I have things I've made in the past few months, so it might not be as bad as all that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Burn Baby Burn

I have to tell you, I was pretty excited to find an online seller who not only had replacement thread burner tips, not only had them in cost-saving (and very forward-thinking: it's not as though I'll never damage another tip in my life) three-packs, but they also had two other items I needed, so I placed my order.
What a thrill - the package arrived today, and yeah yeah yeah, the other stuff is fine but my tips! Yay for replacement tips!

But let's look just a little closer. (Hint: the thin metal filaments are supposed to lie in the same plane as the two brass prongs).
Two out of three are damaged. Look again at the top picture. You can see it there.

Now my dilemma is whether or not to use the good tip in the hope that I can exchange the two bad ones for two good ones, or if they'll insist that I return all three and spend yet another couple of weeks without my burn, which I tell you frankly does not inspire happiness, even though it doesn't curtail my beading activities in the slightest.

To whit: a bracelet.
It's not really negligence in terms of pattern-writing and kit-assembly, at least not all that much. I had made it up some years ago, claspless. Back then I was open to the idea of split rings, which I am now opposed to on the grounds that they just look ugly, cheap and messy (not that I have much of an opinion). Anyway, it needed cutting up and redoing, and while I was at it, adding a slight accent colour, as it was bronze, all bronze, all the way - I added some peachy-coppery metallic seed beads which I think leaves it much improved, but not for me since it's too big.

I have actually been going gangbusters on the sample for the next class, but it's intrinsically (more than your average seed-beaded project) slow-going, though I am past the slowest bits. If I weren't going out knitting tonight I could easily finish it.

Since the class is over, I made two of my beaded bead samples into earrings. They're a really nice size, perhaps two-thirds of an inch in diameter, so the dangle is somewhere between an inch and an inch and a half. Not ridiculously huge, nor waste-of-time (some may say "overly delicately") tiny.

I had a bit of a fright on Monday: the Bead Fest Portland hotel website had it in for me and insisted that there were absolutely no rooms available whatsoever, not for any price, even if I wanted to smoke. Needless to say I became rather concerned about the whole teaching gig and cost and convenience thereof; thinking perhaps I'd contact people that I know will be there, who generally book a few rooms because they have helpers in their booth - but then I'd probably have to share which is not super-appealing since I'm such a light sleeper and the thought of four consecutive nights with no consecutive block of sleep longer than an hour or two just doesn't thrill me, in fact it fills me with gloom.

Then one kind and calm and extremely helpful Yolanda Brown (Reservations Manager) made all the bad go away.

Thanks. Seriously.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Where Did It Go?

I'm not sure where the time went, because it seems I have hardly anything to show for the day.

First there was sleeping in slightly. Perhaps an hour (I said "slightly").

Then there was wondering if I had enough beads/was in the mood for/ought to do another colourway.

That would be a yes.

Another hour or so.

Then there was finishing this colourway, and taking pictures which turned out surprisingly well. There's something about this colour palette that just lends itself to pretty good representation digitally, unlike purple or royal blue which completely baffle me and my camera.
Then there was wondering if these instructions should be all schematics with no photos since I neglected to take a picture a couple of steps back, and if not, what sort of hybrid would work well. It's really hard to make out useful detail on the photos, which does mean more schematics, but I want photos too, because real live pictures make the necklace look so much more appealing than just coloured dots with lines between them.

Perhaps half an hour.
A couple of hours to make two or three inches of progress.

There was a not-so-brief foray into spinning - plying actually - the setup for which required first making a centre-pull ball and weighing it (since I've never weighed my bobbins) so that I could know what a third of the weight was, then winding off three balls weighing the same (but sadly not, as it turns out, containing the same yardage), and then (just for the hell of it, and) so as to preclude the possibility of having to insert my thumb into all three balls simultaneously while plying, winding all three balls into a single centre-pull ball.

The plying itself was not quite as speedy as anticipated (apart from the fact that it never is, even though each time I am convinced that it should be) due to breakage, tanglage, and the collapsing core of a three-stranded centre-pull ball.

That took more than seven minutes. Quite a bit more.

There was taking a walk, working out, eating meals, that sort of thing - another two or so more hours.

Not to mention the massage. That was nice.

And now I'll watch a movie as I knit, which will bring me to bedtime.

I guess I accounted for all the hours (or most of them), and as I consider where they went, I really shouldn't be surprised at my lack of tangible proof of the passage of time, even though I wouldn't use them differently; I just wish there were more beading hours.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

If I Must

And I must, so I did.

Last colourway for this Bead Fest class.

The earrings for the other colourway.
I started on a new colourway for another Bead Fest class.
I didn't get all that far with the instructions for my class in a little over a week though.

It's eventually going to be a necklace.

The picture above represents not quite three and a half inches. Lots of length and lots more stuff to bead (and describe and photograph).

On the plus side, I did make schematics (rather than photos) for the beginning since it was impossible to photograph in any useful way, and not only because I'm using very shiny beads which generally don't help - all the reflections and flash tend to obscure the structure that the picture is trying to elucidate. Schematics tend to take quite a bit longer than my usual bead-a-step-take-a-picture method.

For some reason I'm flashing on Wallace - of Wallace and Gromit fame - talking about "prevaricating about the bush", and that's exactly what overly shiny and iridescent beads do in photographs. The schematics were necessary, not just preferred.

What I really wanted to be working on was a necklace chain for my little Flangiflora from yesterday, but I didn't. I did sketch it out though. In colour.