Saturday, June 30, 2012

By Jove

I like this version best of all.
Again, it's only the outermost round which is different from the others. I like the way it adds stability to the piece without adding heaviness. And except for the rivoli and the jump ring, I used only seed beads, but NO size elevens, oddly enough.

What I find interesting among the three versions I've made is the difference between the colours and finishes of the twin beads, and how that affects the feel of the piece.

This one has clear beads with a light purple shimmer lining around the holes of the beads, so all they contribute is essentially a bit of tinted reflectivity. They just don't show up all that much.

The one before this used matte black twin beads which form a really bold contrast to the overlay. The piece looks altogether very solid, somewhat earthy. Even though the design is somewhat airy, it's weight is reminiscent of that of the Victorian wrought-iron railings you see on houses in New Orleans and older parts of Sydney and Cape Town.

The one where I didn't add anything to join the spikes/petals/sticky-out bits uses translucent purple twin beads with a finish that I'd describe as satin, much like the house-paint finish: not completely shiny, but not matte either. You can see the shape of the twin beads, they add substance but mostly they add colour and dimension because of both the translucency (as opposed to transparency) and the very slight reflectivity.

I guess to make the colour/finish experiment a bit more meaningful in terms I'd really need to use the same base colour with the different finishes, and add the same colours of all the other beads and rivoli, but you know? I don't think I will.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Still Don't Know

I like them both.
I'm not sure I have a preference, but it's kinda cool that there are two viable stopping points, both resulting in something quite wearable.

I suspect that for those whose thread tension is less firm than mine, the last two rounds (on the pendant on the left) will be necessary to avoid droop, though there are other measures that could be taken if that's the case.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Is Less More? Or Less?

I'm duplicating yesterday's effort (but with better colours I think) and I reached the end of the third last round and wondered if perhaps I should stop Right Now.
It's not rock hard solid, but it's not wiggly either, as there are two layers which always helps. It won't flop over, I don't think, so it's usable, but is it pretty enough or does it need More?

I just can't decide.

I think I'll sleep on it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Might Like This

I'm not sure if it's because you can't see that it's built from twin beads, but I might be on the right track.
It's basically the same as the ugly black and green one from the other day, but with more seed beads, as well as farfalle and small magatamas.

I think it's workable.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not So Shabby After All

I did finish the earrings to match the necklace, but there's still a bracelet based on the same motif in the works. In my head in the works, not yet actualised.
These seem like a useful shape and size: bold enough to notice, but not too omnipresent.

Among the activities of getting ready for tomorrow's class and preparing the samples for the next set of classes, I was inspired to work on Something to use this bead that Denice very cleverly gave me (cleverly because I like it and because it's totally the sort of thing I'd buy for myself).
 Sort of unevenly oval. Sekla would work.
 It was very soon obvious (as so often happens) that although the tubes of seed beads arrayed around the lampwork focal were just perfect, there was something nasty about those green 11ºs, so I quickly switched to Amy's Hair colour beads (gold lustre cranberry).

That was better, but the matte teal 8ºs just looked dull, so I switched to metallic aqua, but then the teal fire-polished beads looked dingy.
That required me to switch to olivine zairit (it's a sort of dark gold-bronze finish), but those beads just got lost, so I etched them which made the green pop and I was set. It's a bit startling when you see the difference between the shiny and etched beads in the picture above.

An excellent example of the way not only colours but finishes on beads affect whether they recede or stand out.
The bail for the focal eventually worked too. It's always a bit of a battle for me to give up and use wire, even when I'm able to make seed beaded spacers. I'm fine with wires through the ears because there really is no other way, but it always seems like a cop-out when I can't get the focal in place with only seed beads and thread (or I can but am pretty certain that it's not a permanent solution). I can live with it, but I feel vaguely embarrassed at my failure.
So I made two links for another one of those twenty-hour necklaces. This one should be a bit more interesting (really only very slightly; right angle weave isn't actually more riveting when you switch colours - even if I try to convince myself it is) as I'm planning on doing a colour gradation for the links. The focal colour/colours elude me though.
And then I finished the necklace.

I had to cut something up because I ran out of the blue metallic beads.

I think I know what to do with my credit card to remedy that.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


At least I managed to make something usable with the twin beads. I'm not sure why I feel it's a matter of such importance though.
The problem is that once they're in use, you can't even tell that twin beads are involved.
Baby steps, I guess.

And a button as an earring, without the earring finding.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Still Not

The twin bead thing?
Still elusive, as you can see.

On the other hand, in a frenzy of tidying up, I finally put this necklace together.
I made the beaded beads as samples over a week ago, and the big one just because I couldn't find, horror of horrors, among my fairly extensive lampwork collection, a suitable focal. So I made one.

Monday, June 18, 2012

That Many Hours

Finally done.
There are twelve links at about seventy to eighty minutes each, the focal at double that, and the button at somewhere under an hour. That's, um, something over eighteen hours, give or take an hour or two.

I don't usually do the black-red-silver thing, but I really like the design, and I'm feeling rather proprietary right now, so I might wear it once and see if it's me, or if I have to make another one in colours that make me sing.

Not. This. Week. (My neck is stiff).

Teaching this will be a bit of a challenge because of the timing.

Usually for a two-hour class, I like to be able to finish the item in under an hour. Occasionally people are much faster (it's rare, typically happening for perhaps one person in the class), but more often I wish I had about an extra half an hour - the bead store should stay open later! Even though each link took me well over an hour, it's symmetric about the waist, meaning that the relevant teachable bits took me not much more than forty-five minutes at most, so that's one class.

If people are willing to do homework, the focal (with homework of one unembellished link) is another class, as it's a Link With Extra Bits.

The cute little square button which I still plan to repeat as a pair of earrings or a bracelet or necklace is another class.

I think I can make this work...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Season of the Cut

I bought some twin beads just in case, even though they don't speak Charlene. So they sat for a while.

Truthfully, they're not even whispering, but the local bead store has 50% of all seed beads for the next couple of weeks, so this would be a good time to see if I like them.

I'm just not that inspired, but I tried anyway.

My dustbin is full of short wiggly pieces of thread, but I managed a couple of somethings which don't excite me much.
 You can barely even see the twin beads here. Altogether unremarkable. May be destined for scissors too.
This is marginally better, but not very pretty, though it does actually show off the twin beads, which was sort of the point. I might have to try this again using better colours, though it's not exactly articulate. It's sort of humming tunelessly only. Not entirely silent, so it might bear further development.

I've actually been spending quite a significant number of hours doing right angle weave, but as I said last time, I'm in the throes of something requiring significant time commitment, so there have been hours but not a whole lot to show for it.
 I'm quite pleased with the focal though. It's based on the link, but with extra stuff.
And the button has potential as an earring or component of a chain, so I guess I'm ok with all those hours.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

To the Dark Side

So last night I talked a few people through making these (the class I taught was called Dolce; the pattern will be in my Etsy and Craftsy shops pretty soon):

Not the round one on the left, but the others.

I feel like Lestat (you know, the vampire), because I think I made a beader. John had been resisting for ages and ages, and I really don't know why because I knew it would appeal (the colours, the structure, the shiny) and I guess he stopped being able to make convincing arguments to himself either, because there he was, keeping up with people who have been beading for longer than he has.

I knew he'd be a natural.

It's possible he'll try to resist, but he did sign up for the next class too. I'm so glad he's weak!

I shouldn't be so happy, because in a couple of months he'll have overtaken me and I'll be flat out of a job.

So this evening I made another link. The first two were all gunmetal seed beads, and then I added some opaque crimson (the one on the bottom of the picture), and today's had metallic cranberry, which I'm pretty much loving.

It's funny how cubic right angle weave turns out to be much more fun than flat right angle weave, because the thread path that I use is relatively fast, but most importantly helps the beads to be pretty square (rather than the traditional thread paths which tend to leave you with a herringbone-like structure, slightly). I'd still balk at triple-strand lariats in right angle weave, but even though each link takes over an hour, I have little problem contemplating a necklace.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Back in the Saddle

It's been feeling a little strange that I did just about no beading the entire month of May: first I was preparing for my vacation by sewing, then I was away from my beads, and then I was getting my house in order, catching up on bills and the like, and though I was knitting all the while, I have no Finished Things to photograph, and seven inches of knitting is about as interesting as three inches of knitting; which is to say: generally not that much, so absent holiday pictures, the blog has (as you may have noticed, had you been paying attention - and this is not a veiled jab but merely a statement of fact) been thin of late.

I've been having beading ideas and sketching beading ideas, but again, neither makes for good pictures, and not that this post necessarily heralds a new age of online verbal diarrhoea, but I do have some beading to show you.
 I'm teaching this class on Tuesday (Dolce beaded beads), and even though I've mostly been quite good about taking the pictures for the instructions as I make the samples for the proposals, in this instance I was a little lax.
 I'm ok with getting this done now, as it's a painless step away from the awkward navel-gazing I was wondering if I should start on (Why aren't I beading? Does it mean I'm not into it any more? Am I into sewing again? Am I going back to sewing ninety percent of my clothes again? Do I even still like knitting? What about all those beading classes I'm committed to? Should I be committed?) and back to glass and nylon.

It also means that I can now catch up on those episodes of Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me and Fresh Air that I missed while I was away. The little piece of right angle weave caught me up on two episodes of Wait, Wait, and if I get an entire necklace done, I'll definitely be caught up on Fresh Air, not to mention multiple episodes of This American Life and Radiolab.
There now. My dirty little secret is out. I'm an NPR junkie.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


When I got there, the line wasn't quite so long - I waited perhaps ten to fifteen minutes.

I was a little underwhelmed, though I'm not sure what I was expecting. There was a perfectly round perfectly black dot. Nothing that screamed "planet!" about it. I liked the sunspots though.

At least I went to see it, since I won't have another opportunity.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pet Peeve of the Day

There's no such word as "cardi".

That knitted thing with sleeves that's open in front is called a CARDIGAN. For crying out loud, it's only three more letters to not sound like the kind of person who dots their "i"s with hearts.

Corollary: It's not a shrug if it's just a short cardigan. It's just a short cardigan, though it might be a bolero if it's also close-fitting and cannot close in the front. Alternately, your cardigan should be a size or two bigger.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Things I Now Know About Backpacks

Even if the pocket for your iPad is about an inch bigger than the iPad in both directions, when the backpack is packed, it'll take forty-five minutes to get the iPad in and out of its pocket.
 It was a really good idea though, to have the semi-hidden and secure pocket, but it did mean that if I wanted to look at a map in the middle of the sidewalk, I'd have to take the backpack off first (since I'm not that kind of contortionist) and wrangle it out of the pocket.

I ended up either putting the iPad in my purse with its cover (which also wasn't great since the purse is a bit awful) or in the backpack without its cover, which worked quite well.

Ultrasuede is not suitable for backpacks as it's not even close to sturdy enough.
 The above is the secondary tear which manifested the last couple of days of the trip; below is the primary tear which luckily held off being a great gaping rip until my actual last day of travel.
Part of the problem is also the strap attachment position. I found many sewing sites that talked about making backpacks, and one of the items I gleaned from them was attaching the traps close to centre back, which upon some actual thought on my part would have immediately have been rejected on account of the fact that I am not a child with itty-bitty shoulders, and many of the backpacks were for kids.

The straps being so close strained the fabric even further, but almost more importantly, hurt my neck and shoulders, placing too much stress there. Ideally the separation between the two straps should have been just slightly narrower than my neck.

The corollary is that nylon straps which must be heat-sealed to prevent fraying are very sharp and will wear through anything, and make snags on your new lightweight summer cardigan that you bought for the trip, so much so that you have to spend an entire evening with a needle, loosening the stitches in the rows that were tightened up by the snags, and there were many.

The sharp straps will also create such a huge snag in the shawl/scarf that you bought in Krakow that you find yourself looking at sewing patterns so that you can use the unsnagged parts of it in a garment since even though it is woven and ought to be easy to unsnag, you have had absolutely no success in unsnagging even a single thread.

And you buy another shawl since you actually really like them and feel that you should leave Eastern Europe with one of these shawls, even though they are undoubtedly made in India or China. Still, they are endemic and to you will always symbolize the colder than expected May you spent there.

The side pockets designed for water bottles were a really good idea.
They worked pretty well.

The whole backpack could have done with an extra two inches in all three dimensions, as it was just that tight. For the most part I didn't need to carry a whole lot, but some things were so close in size to one of the dimensions or another that it became a little awkward sometimes.

I think I should have stiffened the base quite a bit more, as one of the feet came off on the last day too (it had nothing firm to attach itself to). I usually stiffen these things with plastic canvas, but I was all out and in too much of a hurry to buy more.

Next time I might also make a small base compartment as well: a shallow rectangular pocket on the bottom perhaps two or three inches high with a zip on three sides and containing pockets or channels for small things like pens and lip balm and hand cream. This would also help to firm and stabilize the base of the backpack.

All-in-all it was useful, and served its purpose as I was trying to avoid the shoulder pain and hassle of a tote bag or large purse, but truthfully, when I carried the iPad (the heaviest thing I wanted to carry with me daily) in my purse, it wasn't so bad in terms of weight although since the purse I used was old and less than ideal in shape and size, it was awkward getting it in and out of my purse.

I think I'll design a better travel purse for next time instead.