Sunday, 31 October 2010

Bead blog recap week 43


Time for yet another recap of what I've written in my other blog, Manekis Pärlblogg. This week it includes a few contest tips as well. Since I've got some new followers this weekend, I should probably add a short explaination of the recaps. I've got two blogs I write, this one and Manekis Pärlblogg, whish is a blog on beading and jewellery-making featuring projects, inspiration, product news, history articles, trivia and facts on anything related to beads and jewellery. The blog is written in Swedish, but you can translate it using Google Translate.


When the creativity and joy disappears
It happens to everybody sooner or later. The creativity or joy of beading is gone. It's normal, but can be frustrating. Here is a list of "remedies" that are common. Some of them are things I use, other things are recommendations I've heard from other beaders and artists.

Bead Unique bead embroidery contest

In every issue, Bead Unique magazine have a beading contest. This time the theme is bead embroidery. Read more about it on their website.

Your Designs Rock 2011 design contest
American bead shop Rings & Things have published the details for their design contest. Entries are accepted throught January and February 2011. Read more about it here.

Flint
Flint is the inofficial province stone of Skåne, the Southern-most province in Sweden -- where I happen to live. It's a lovely stone that can be polished for use in jewellery. You probably won't find any flint beads, but lapidary artists sell pendants and cabs. You can also find tumbled flintstone in bead, stone and new age shops.

Vintaj November challenge
The current theme for the Vintaj blog design challenge is Wandering Journey. If you want to prepare for the December challenge, the theme for that month is Traditional Christmas. Read more about it here.

Glass bezels
Bezels are often made from metal, but why not try something a bit different? You can find bezels made in ceramics, wood, glass etc. Rings & Things have some inspirational clear glass bezels in four different shapes.

Washing beaded or sequined garments and textiles
Before you bead on clothes or other textiles that might need to be washed, you might want to make sure that your beads can tolerated being cleaned. Not all beads like getting wet, being tumbled or dry cleaned. An important thing to keep in mind when you select beads. Also include washing recommendations for beaded and/or sequined garments.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Andrew Thornton's latest giveaway


Andrew Thornton, in association with U.S. bead shop Beadaholique, is giving away a truely lovely lot this week. The "theme" of the prize are two of my favourite things: ribbons and leaves. I spot some lovely copper coloured pieces in there, as well as the fun coloured brass filigree form Ezel. It can be hard to see all the bits and pieces in the pic below, but Andrew also have a few detailed shots of this treasure on his blog.

For a chance to win this lot, check out Andrew's giveaway blog post and write a comment (for additional chances, you can also blog about the giveaway and/or become a follower of the Beadaholique blog).

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Alcohol ink experiments


After seeing others working with alcohol inks on metals, of cause, I had to buy some inks too this summer. Haven't done much with them, but have already shown a simple example of faux oxidization on my "imitation bottle cap" charm.

Above you can see another example where I've worked with three different nuances of inks (Pitch Black, Stream and Raisin) in several layers. The base is a rather large brass ox stamping. The same one I used when testing my rusting paint here. In that post you can also find a "before" pic of the stamping.

Haven't sealed it yet -- which I intend to do as the inks can be dissolved by alcohol and other solvents and I don't want that. What I will not do is repeat my first mistake: using a solvent-based spray lacquer. I did use that on my first charm and it utterly changed the pattern made by the inks. It's ok, but not as nice as it was before spraying it. Stupid, stupid, stupid. But at least I learn from my mistakes.

I also had fun playing with a simple round brass blank, approx. 19 mm. This one was textured using a ball hammer before I added the inks. Used Stream and Raisin here as well, but they are not fully mixed as in the floral stamping. Sorry about the "artsy" angle, but it looks slightly better when viewed like this so I save a photo eventhough I didn't intend to show it here on the blog (as I wasn't fully pleased with the result).

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Purple jewellery to show support

On one of the Swedish jewellery-making forums I'm active, Smyckestillverkning iFokus, the founder recently announced a little challenge: make purple jewellery for October 27. The reason? An appeal to wear something purple that day to show HBT youths that you accept them for who they are, that you support them and that it's ok to be gay, bisexual or transsexual. There isn't anything wrong with them, they aren't weird or perverts, as some people seem to think, looking at gay people in distaste. And, perhaps most importantly, it gets better!

The background is of cause the five suicides in the U.S., where the gay boys gave up on life after being harassed just because they weren't "straight". But it isn't just in the U.S. that HBT teenagers, and adults, attempt to comit suicide because of the way certain individuals in society look at them. So on Wednesday we can do this one simple thing to show that we like them for who they are.

For this challenge I've made two pieces. First, a simple flower necklace I put together last night. It features light violet acrylic (lucite) flowers with elongated drop glass beads as "stamen" that I attached to a jump ring, forming a small clustre. I wanted to string the clustre on purple cord or wire, but didn't have anything that matched the purple nuances in the flower. So instead I did something I normally don't like to do: I just strung some Toho 8/0 seed beads on beading wire. (Why I don't like to do that? It looks cheap, like some tat you can buy for pin money. No disrespect to those that do string seeds like this in their jewellery making.) The colour is called sugarplum, a cooler purple that e.g. amethyst.


While shooting the necklace, I felt an urge to do something more. Something to show how easy, how uncomplicated, it is to make a quick piece of jewellery for a special occassion.

The result was a simple brooch, that you can wear on a jumper, coat, hat, scarf or where ever you feel it will be visible. Three paper flowers, sealed for durability, are held together by a flower-shaped brad, which I've attached to a brooch back. The petals of the brad are bent a bit for a better shape and to keep it from pushing on the paper petals as it causes them to curve backwards.


To attach the brad, I simple "wrapped" it over the bar of the narrow brooch back. Squeezed it with my pliers and burnished it slightly. It seems to be sturdy enough. If not, I could always add a drop of glue for added security.


The challenge entries can now be uploaded at a special gallery thread at the forum. It is encouraged to write a short description in both Swedish and English. You can find the thread here: Den lila kampanjen.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Bead blog recap week 42


For anyone who's never read my recaps before, I just want to make it clear that I recap the posts I write not here, but on my other blog, Manekis Pärlblogg. A blog on beading and jewellery-making featuring projects, inspiration, product news, history articles, trivia and facts on anything related to beads and jewellery. The blog is written in Swedish, but you can translate it using Google Translate.


Make purple jewellery to show support
Jewellery has at least partially always been used to signal something. This is a challenge at a bead forum, inspired by a suggestion on FB to dress in purple or wear a purple accessoary on Oct 27 to show HBT teenagers that you support them and that they shouldn't feel ashamed or scared. That gay youths choose to end their own lives due to how they are treated is not just something that happens over there.

Beautiful wire flowers
K S Jewellery Designs has three lovely tutorials for how to make many different flower pendants using metal wire and a few beads. Be inspired both by their beauty and the many variations on one basic concept.

Alcohol inks
It's popular to use alcohol inks to colorize metals for jewellery right now, either on their own or together with acrylic paint, embossing, patinas etc. Read more about the inks as well as how to use them in jewellery-making.

Temari and kaga yubinuki

Temari is Japanese embroidered balls. Kaga yubinuki is Japanese thimbles. Both use the same type of geometric patterns and special "woven" embroidery. And both can be used as inspiration for making embroidered jewellery and beads.

Beadweaving with farfalle
Farfalle are Czech peanut-shaped beads that are often used in stringing. Many probably hesitate to do off-loom beadweaving with them due to their shape, but as Maggie shows the bead can be just perfect for herringbone, peyote, RAW and more.

Porphyry -- "the Swedish diamond"
Porphyry is easy to recognize with its white (or sometimes black) specks on a brownish or grey background. In Sweden, porphyry has an interesting history and is not least associated with the famed Älvdals porphyry (älvdalsporfyr). Artisans in the Älvdalen region still make porphyry jewellery for tourists.

Beads of Clay hosts virtual open studio blog event
Tomorrow, Sun Oct 24, a number of clayers (working with ceramic clay) will parttake in a blog event, a sort of open studio online, that will include giveaways, shop specials and more. Read about the event at the Beads of Clay blog.

Tila bead projects
The long awaited tila beads have been out for a little while now. Don't know how to use these two-hole beads? Here you find a collection of links to projects using this new innovative bead shape from Miyuki.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Toho beads and me

If you ask me which my favourite Japanese bead manufacturer is, I'd say Miyuki. They have some exciting and unusual bead shapes like long magatamas and tila beads. And Miyuki was the first quality seed bead brand I got as a newbie.

But then again, the other big Japanese brand, Toho, have some really pretty beads too: copper-lined seeds like those in the pic, marbled finishes -- and charlottes. I love charlottes. Not to mention that Toho beads are used in the lovely SuperNova Hybrids. So while I call myself a Miyuki fan, it doesn't mean I don't drool over Toho beads. Or Preciosa Ornela (previously Jablonex) for that matter. My seed bead "trinity".

But there's a special reason I mention Toho: I recently found out that Toho and I have something in common. According to their website, we share birthday! November 3rd. (For anyone wondering how old I am: Toho is exactly 30 years older than me.) Who would've known I had something like that in common with them?

Now for the big question: should I take this as a sign that I should buy some Toho beads for the birthday money I hope to get soon? There are some Toho Hybrids I wouldn't mind getting an excuse for buying... And I've never seen the gilded marbled beads IRL -- have to do something about that, don't I?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

SoftFlex steampunk beading contest -- time to vote!

I got an e-mail yesterday, saying the voting for the entries in the steampunk themed beading contest by SoftFlex is now live. Check it out here. I've got one entry there so any vote for me is greatly appreciated.

As they only show one photo of each entry, I thought I'd publish a few detail shots of my necklace here. I couldn't think of a good name for it so please don't shoot me for the one I came up with... It's just very desciptive: I wanted to make something that'd look like some sort of mechanism. The gears don't actually do something, but I wanted it to at least have the illusion of a working mechanism. While I can enjoy designs that just scatter cogs and gears around -- as explained here -- I thought it too "cliché" for a steampunk design.

I added an extra "antique steel coloured" faux watch movement to the back, which is barely visible under the larger antique brass coloured one. This not only added weight but also depth and enhanced the illusion of a plausible mechanism. It would by now means fool anyone that know how a mechanism works -- or anyone that's ever seen a working mechanism (i.e. everybody), but still... My mom don't understand why I did all this on the back of the pendant -- the part nobody will see when you wear it. But without these parts, there'd be no illusion, no matter how easy to unveil.

My second wish was to combine two lovely metals: tarnished brass and black iron. Not real castiron, but close enough. I like the mix of black and brass or sepia (as in this online game). As usual I went for a rather simple design, perhaps unconciously inspired by the clean art deco lines you see in Little Wheel, the game I linked to.

As you can see, the pendant is really what I focused most on in this design. I used faux gears (Tim Holtz and brass stampings), a found brass circle "thingy", brass "bezel lace", and Vintaj decorivets (in Arte Metal). Several parts I bought using my gift certificate from Rings & Things so in a way they're the ones that made this design come true. The decorivets I got from another fab American bead shop, Bello Modo.

I riveted (= no glue here!) the pieces together using a brass rivet that is placed slightly eccentric in the centre of the compass rose. It was a "drilling accident" but I had but one compass component so I had to live with it. I kind of look at it as if it's supposed to look like a black cresent moon (or partial solar eclipse I guess).

Anyway, I hope you like it and likewise, I hope there at least a few people out there who like it enough to vote for it. I don't have high hopes, seeing all the beautiful and complex entries that I compete with, but I enjoy the challenge of participating in contests.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Bead blog recap week 41


And so another week has passed and it's time to make a recap in English of what I've written over at Manekis Pärlblogg. From scale mail flowers to bicones.


Scale flowers
How to make metal flowers using scales -- sold by chainmail specialists) and rings. Beautiful!

Bicone -- the classic bead shape
It's not entirely uncommon for newbies to confuse bicone with specific crystal beads, but really it's just the name for a certain shape that you can find in beads made from all sorts of materials.

Caraga to launch kit contest
Swedish bead shop Caraga is announcing they will begin selling bead kits for their new beading contest soon.

Beaded balls
How to make bead(ed) balls, using everything from nine to ninety beads (or more).

Herringbone à la SweetPeas/Plaited herringbone
When SweetPeas, AKA Chika Terai, practiced stitching herringbone, se discovered a new stitch. Similar to traditional herringbone, but still rather different.

Headpins with stamen -- and flowers
Fairtrade registered thai silver company Shiana makes fancy headpins with stamen on the end, perfect for using with flower beads to add a touch of realism. They also sell gorgeous flower headpins. Available in silver, black silver, rose vermeil and vermeil.

New finishes from TierraCast
TierraCast is now coating their quality pewter beads and findings in two new, sought-after finishes: black and antique brass. At the time of writing, I do not know if these new finishes comply with the EU directive on nickel content.

Registrations for Facett.STHLM bead meet 2011 opened
On Sunday, the day national annual bead meet PUSS (=kiss) ended, Facett.STHLM opened for booking a place at their next annual meeting in April.

Dagger flower drops tutorial
The Swedish version of the tutorial you can find in English here.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Dagger flower drops tutorial

*Instruktioner på svenska finns HÄR*


After I published the photos of my flower charm last week, I felt an urge to write instructions for this simple dagger flower project. So here it is, how to make my four-petal "space flowers". They are really simple to make and you only need a few beads and a bead cap to make one. It's important that you use a bead cap with four long "prongs" and that the cap can be manipulated -- i.e. no cast caps. Do feel free to experiment with different styles of caps as the shape of it will alter the whole look of the finished flower.

*

Supplies for one charm:
4 daggers, 11 mm
1 square bicone, 6 mm
1 bead cap, approx. 9 mm
1 soft headpin
1 small bead, max 2 mm (e.g. round metal bead or seed bead)
beading thread, e.g. Fireline, K.O., C-Lon
glue

Tools: round nose pliers, (bent) chain nose pliers, wire cutter, scissors, needle (optional)




1. Begin by choosing a thread you like to work with. For the charms in these photos, I've used K.O (size D) and C-Lon size D. String the daggers on the thread and go through the beads a second time, as indicated by the picture.


2. Pull the thread tight and tie a so called surgeon's knot (instructions can be found here). If the beads want to lay flats as in the pic on the left, before tying the knot, gently squeeze them together so they "stand up" as in the picture on the right. After you've done this, pull the thread again before tying as the movement can loosen the thread somewhat.


3. String the ends of the thread through one or two beads on each side and secure the knot with a drop of glue. When the glue is thoroughly dry, cut the ecess thead using a pair of small, sharp scissors.


4. Take the bead cap and test if it fits well over the "petals". Most likely you will need to bend out the "prongs" on the cap. Do this by gently pulling each prong using your fingers. Make sure you bend each prong just as much as you did with the previous one or the bead cap will look lopsided. Don't pull too much at once, just ease it bit by bit. Keep going unlike you are pleased with the fit.


5. Optional step: you can bend the tip of each prong a tad inwards. Do this by holding the cap in your hand and grip the tip using round-nose pliers. Gently curve the tip inwards, taking care not destorting the prongs.


6. Assemble all parts on a headpin as in the photo above: square bicone, dagger petals, small bead, bead cap. The tiny metal bead is just for covering the small gap between the daggers and the centre of the bead cap. Use a bead in the same colour as the cap or the daggers.


7. Finish by making a wrapped loop. To make a wrapped loop, you begin by grabing the headpin using your chain-nose pliers and then bend the pin 90 degrees. Press the pliers slightly against the bead cap when you do this to avoid getting a too big gap between bead cap and the bend.


8. Grip the pin at the base of the bend using round-nose pliers. Bend the pin around the pliers so it forms a c. Reposition the pliers so you grip close to the upper parts of the C and keep bending the pin into a full cicle. You may have to move the pliers seceral times in order to shape a nice, round loop.


9. Grip the loop using your chain-nose pliers in your non-dominant hand so it will be still while you wrap the pin around the centre, from the loop and down towards the cap, using your dominant hand. Keep wrapping until the coil is tight up against the cap; you don't want it to be loose as it will make the cap and beads wobbly.


10. Cut the excess wire close to the coil using a narrow pair of cutters. The end of the pin will protrude a few millimetres so squeeze it against the coils using your chain-nose pliers for a professional result. The loop can become crooked when you wrap it so finish by straightening it up if needed.

Your charm is now ready.


Tips:

  • If you can't find the czech square bicone beads, you can use regular 6 mm bicones too. Compare the charms above where a Preciosa crystal bead has been used in the purple iris charm.


  • You can substitute the 11 mm daggers for smaller or larger ones. Om du saknar 11 mm daggers kan du testa med mindre eller längre. Choose a bead cap that fits the beads. If you use the same bead caps for 16 mm daggers as for 11 mm beads, you will get a flower similar to the one in the pic above.

If you make anything using my tutorials, I'd love to see it!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A sunny October morning


This weekend has been really sunny and as I managed to get som sleep instead of being woken up by a hungry no longer limping cat before sunrise, the crisp autumn morning inspired me to take my camera and go out for a short walk around the garden. The views above and below are from the window outside my bed room and it was looking at that view that I decided I had to take some pics.







That's one of the neighbour's heifers. (That's a cow that hasn't had any calves yet, for those of you unfamiliar with bovines.)

So far I've shown the hazy, dewy morning, but it was also a morning filled with autumn colours as you can see below. I don't have much to say about these pics so I'll just let them speak for themselves. Don't forget to click the photos for larger pictures.











We have a rather wild garden and sometimes you can just see some of the beauty through branches and twigs. Like with the changing leaves below. Some of them reminds me of tiffany windows, with dark branches instead of lead/pewter lines.














And now for the last photos...


Not one of my photos of the leaves in this pic turned out decent. And I so wanted a good pic of them as they remind me of soo cho jade. I'm pretty fond of that stone as the colours remind me of apples and autumn leaves like these.


I didn't really get any good photos of Mimi (Mimsan) either. She surprised me when I was photographing the leaves above and was in a really playful mood. So I've got a handful of pics where she is nothing but a blur, chasing a stick is was holding in an attempt to make her look towards me and the camera.



Figgi (Figaro)was also outdoors. Not playing, but basking in the sun.

And this last photo is just of our road. It was recently broadened and given a new layer of asphalt so now it's smoother than ever. Last time the road was totally repaired like this was when I was a kid. Perhaps six years old. So it's not something that happens everyday.

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