I’ve just listed some lovely new cabs in my Etsy shop – I’m experimenting with listing these in a slightly different way. Each listing contains cabs poured in the same batch, using the same colours, so they compliment each other perfectly, and you can select one or more from the same batch by selecting the letter shown next to them in the pictures from the Etsy drop down. Price wise they are the same as they have been, but I’ve added a 5 for 4 offer so you can pretty much buy a set for the same discount as my pre-made sets, but still get to select what to put into the mix in terms of size, pattern, shape etc. The cheapest cabochon of each 5 will be the free one.
Each range is shown below – just click on the picture to open up the listing in Etsy. Prices range from £1 for the smallest teardrops to £5 for the huge 50mm rounds – all are completely unique (I couldn’t make another one the same even if I wanted to as the paints behave different every single time!).
Etsy can’t process the 5 for 4 at checkout, so I’ll be refunding it after purchase (when I pack up your order for despatch) – it’s also worth knowing that I’ve set the cabochons up so they are zero postage when bought with any other physical item from my shop (so you effectively only pay postage for the first item). Please note that the 5 for 4 offer, and free additional item postage only apply to the cabochons, not to my Materials Packs or finished beadwork.
So I finally had time to put together some materials packs for my Sunstar brooch tutorial. The tutorial uses basic bead embroidery to bezel a 30mm domed cabochon, and then add some amazing dagger beads to make a striking giant flower. The finished piece was designed as a brooch, but also makes a stunning pendant, and the cunning brooch pin in these packs already has a bezel on so you can wear your finished piece as either a brooch or a pendant without any adjustments.
Three of the packs are based around my own hand painted cabochons, and also include amazing Czech etched beads – both seeds and daggers. The etched daggers were the original inspiration for this design, so it’s been great picking the right colours for these packs, and it’s been even nicer getting to play with my Pebeo paints and custom make cabochons to compliment the daggers exactly.
Colourways are Vitrail dots (I mean how amazing are those dotty etched daggers, and though I say it myself the cabs are exquisite); Sliperit (etched Sliperit is my absolute favourite of these finishes, and I use it constantly so it seemed right to share), and Magic Apple (a partially transparent red and green finish, with metallics which was the first colourway I made this brooch in).
The fourth pack is based around some amazing matte canary yellow daggers, and my own hand made Liberty print cabochons, with this colourway guaranteed to bring sunshine into even the darkest day. So you don’t feel left out of the etched bead side though, some of the seed beads in this set are etched too.
As well as the beads and cabochon, each materials pack contains Nicole’s Bead Backing as the embroidery foundation, Ultrasuede for the brooch backing, and the dual purpose brooch pin and pendant bail. As with all of my packs, the tutorial needs to be purchased separately, and you will need to dig out your own beading needles, thread and some strong glue. The tutorial and packs are available in my Etsy shop here.
This year for the Stitch n Craft challenge the theme was ‘Anything Goes’ – so no theme, no packs, no requirements, just enter something you’ve worked on this year that you’re proud of. So I beaded away at a particular thread of an idea, and was getting really pleased with it when I realised it didn’t really meet a key requirement to use some beads bought from them. Yes the core of the work used their beads, but the flashy bits, the visible bits were all from elsewhere. So this didn’t really feel to me like it was entering into the spirit of the competition, so although I ‘d already paid the entry fee I decided to pause for a little think.
Whilst I was thinking (OK procrastinating) the theme was announced for another competition that fit my nearly complete piece perfectly. In every other way that competition seemed like a better fit for it, so I decided to enter something else at Stitch and Craft instead – another one of my big bead embroidered necklaces perhaps, using beads that were definitely from them and some of my own cabochons?
Digging around I found a set of experimental cabs that I made in the early days using the left over paint mess from a salad spinner painting session with the boys. Surreal but true. The drips and dribbles gave an acrylic pour effect, and I’d even tried mopping up the excess paint from the side of the spinner by blotting, giving a lovely blotchy effect which I’d then used to make a huge 50mm cab.
The large cab made me think of Monet’s waterlily paintings, particularly those in the Orangery in Paris, where if you stand close the beautiful paints form gorgeous abstract patterns. In turn that made me think of water, with silvery bubbles and that got me to my base colour scheme of silver, etched vitrail and metallic mint green (Miyuki 4214 and 4214F), and I started my usual process of pulling out a big range of beads to kick start the design process. A stash search unearthed some vitrail ridged back cabs from The Old Bicycle Shop, and a wonderful crumple backed oval Crystal Electra geode cabochon from Stitch n Craft themselves. The colours though were still a bit subtle, and I needed to call on more of the contrasting colours in the cabs and crystals, so I added some pink – not my usual fuchsia though, but a more subtle Swarovski Crsytal Peony Pink (again from Stitch N Craft). And finally I spent some of my Beadworker’s Guild Founder’s Award prize money on some gorgeous Anna Bronze findings, this time in an antique silver finish, but repeating some of the organic shapes I’d used in that piece. Then I got stuck in, using what is becoming a standard process for these type of pieces.
First I did a rough layout and photographed it, then rather than bezelling onto a single backing I bezelled each of the flat backed hand made cabs onto a separate piece of backing. I do this because I find that adding the bezel changes the shape, size and overall appearance of the cab, and usually means I want to alter the layout significantly (usually to add more space). I used a simple backstitch/peyote bezel – quick and secure, adding a picot to some but not all. If you want to learn how to do a basic back stitch/peyote bezel then take a look at my SunStar tutorial which takes you through this technique.
Then I did the beadwoven bezels for the crystals and other cabochons – biggest first, then using a variant of whatever bezel I came up with for that one (with less repeats, or smaller beads) on the smaller ones to give a sense of continuity, and a repeat of the method I used on my Great Dixter necklace for the chatons.
Then I looked at layout again, adding the metal pieces, and did my trick of deciding on a shape based on a specific neckline – in this case I’m really glad because the original layouts had been for quite a shallow ‘v’ which wouldn’t have been great in wear. Then I was ready to start attaching the bead embroidered cabs to a fresh base, using both glue and stitching (these are big cabs so it’ important to be secure, particularly if there is any flex in the finished piece as this could break the glue bond on bending).
Then I checked the layout yet again, working out how I would attach the bead woven cabochons (which sit up above the base and bead embroidered cabs, and where and how to attach the metal pieces. This showed me what space to leave free, and where I needed to cover the base with bead embroidery – which I then did using simple stack stitch, and supplemented with some lovely Backlit Spectrum and Etched Vitrail 2 hole cab beads (in my head these were the bubbles in the water). Next the attachment points for the straps (I didn’t complete the whole strap, as I wanted to check the length with the finished centrepiece, but I chose the beads, got it started and reinforced it repeatedly), and then finally I was able to secure the metal pieces and crystals.
At this point it was becoming apparent that the 50mm cabochon was pretty heavy. Inevitably the bead backing is weakened as well when you stitch into it, so it was time for some serious reinforcement, sandwiching, glueing and stitching on additional sheets of backing, and even some flexible plastic cocktail sticks.
It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally finished my Sun Star Brooch tutorial. This is my first bead embroidery tutorial, and has evolved over a number of years from a bezelled RAW ring to it’s current huge embroidered flamboyant form, with a centrepiece hand painted cabochon. It plays to my ongoing obsession with Czech etched beads, particularly the larger sized seeds and absolutely amazing daggers.
Sun Star Brooch – Sarah Cryer Beadwork – Magic Apple
It uses a variety of bead embroidery techniques, including back stitch, bezelling using circular peyote, seeding and edging to make a statement brooch or pendant, and would suit beginner bead embroiderers comfortable with a needle – it’s an ideal project for beadweavers or embroiders looking to try out bead embroidery as it covers key basic techniques which you can then go on to try out in your own designs. If you already have some bead embroidery experience, then this makes a lovely quick project – I can do one in an evening (although to be fair I have had quite a lot of practice and am a bit naughty about letting the glue dry properly).
Sun Star Brooch – Sarah Cryer Beadwork – Magic Apple and Crystal Marea
The thirteen page tutorial contains a full materials list, with suggestions for colour schemes, and every step is fully illustrated with a detailed diagram showing thread paths etc, with photos to show you what you are aiming for. And of course every step is also written out clearly for those of us who prefer written instructions.
Once you’ve mastered the basic brooch, there are possibilities for variations which I hope to explore here over the next few months, so watch this space. I’ve already worked out that you can add extra rows of embroidery around a smaller central cab if you can’t find a 30mm one:
How completely gorgeous are those capri rose etched beads?
And the advent of 2 holed daggers opens up some new ideas……..
I’ve been a little short on beady mojo lately – I have some big pieces and tutorials that are nearly done, I keep having to restock my materials packs and I’m plenty busy, but because I’m procrastinating about some of those things I don’t feel I want to start any big new designs of my own. But I do want to bead, and I want to bead really really bright. So I dug out one of my favourite books, and knocked up a couple of pieces in very summery colours.
The book is Sabine Lippert’s Beaded Fantasies, and I’ve made my favourite ‘Granada’ brooch, and a necklace which is new to me called Art Deco Necklace. Sabine is an incredible designer, and I’ve made tonnes of her pieces, and it’s been really nice to return to the first book of hers that I bought and bash out some simple, quick and very wearable projects.
Obviously I love making Granada, as I’ve made it at least twice before, and I really enjoyed Art Deco too. Sabine’s patterns are always easy to work from, and although they are a bit condensed and harder to follow in the book than in her individual self-published tutorials (presumably because there is a lot less space in a book), the diagrams are good and I didn’t really have any problems.
And though I say it myself, I LOVE my colours! All the beads were from my stash as these were spur of the moment projects, and I especially love the neon coral 6mm Swarovski Pearls, which I got on sale from Stitch n Craft, the Crystal Light Coral Swarovski Rivoli (also Stitch N Craft), the 3mm milky lime bicones from Robin’s Beads, and in the necklace, the neon red matte rounds from Creative BeadCraft (must buy more….).
And I’ve also used another excellent Stitch n Craft find, a brooch back with bail, which will enable me to wear the Granada as either a pendant or a brooch.
The lovely Gill Goldfinch runs Whitstable Bead ‘n’ Banter, and rather excitingly is hosting a Bead in of my Baroque Tape Measure for International Beading week.
I’ve donated the patterns for the day to support the event and International Bead week, so if you fancy going along all you have to do is book in with Gill, and pull together the beads you need using the requirements list here (or if you’d rather, you can buy a materials pack from my Etsy shop here, where I also sell hard to get 2.8mm drops, and robust Hoechtmass tape measures).
The Bead-in is on Wednesday August 1st and runs all day (10-4pm) at The Horsebridge, 11 Horsebridge Road, Whitstable CT5 1AF. Please let Gill know in advance if you would like to attend so they can plan for the right numbers – you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a lovely chance to get hold of the pattern for free, and more importantly to get together with some friendly other beaders to enjoy a day of beading ‘free of domestic distractions’ (which sounds particularly attractive to me as I type with a 4 year old running riot).
More details of this and other events and activities being run for International Beading Week can be found here. As well as meet ups and classes, there are lots of activities you can join in at home, including Jean Power’s legendary Summer Beadalong – even if you can’t get to a meet up the feeling of beading with other beaders across the world from the comfort of your own home is very uplifting, so have a look and join in!
I started work in late autumn last year, and knowing that I wanted to make something inspired by a late summer English ‘hot border’, pulled beads in Fuchsia, Orange, Purple and Bronze.
And boy do I have a lot of beads in that set – it felt like I’d been collecting treasures for years with this challenge in mind. I then started to bead, beginning with my favourite etched sliperit Czech beads, working through an idea for beading concentric circles to form a dahlia, working towards a huge set of flowers, and also working on some large beaded beads.
But then I discovered the wonderful work of Anna Bronze, a Russian artist working with lost wax castings to form beautiful natural forms. She had a beautiful range of seed pods and spices which played perfectly to the late summer theme, so I took a deep breath and ordered some (hand made work of this quality understandably does not come cheap). And when they arrived that of course threw the whole plan up in the air. The dark bronze was very striking, but didn’t work at all with the etched beads. It needed something deeper and richer, and I needed to get some crystals into play. And then I thought of the ‘Diva’ necklace I’d loved making earlier in the year, and started playing with putting together a collection of bezelled cabochons with the castings in a similar way.
On the huge tray of pulled beads I had some amazing ‘Crystal Astral Pink’ Swarovski stones which I’ve been hoarding forever, and looked amazing against the bronze. They also looked great with some lunasoft fuchsia cabochons, but that gave me a little too much pink, so I knocked up some cabochons of my own using orange Pebeo Prisme to balance them out. With the largest Astral Pink stone in the centre I was starting to get a bunch of stones that worked, but for a necklace I like to reflect the shape of the ‘decolletage’, so I needed something to basically point downwards into the chest! After a couple of failed attempts to make a marquise shaped cab myself I turned to Designer Cabochons and found a lovely dark marmalade agate drusy cab, and I had my set.
So I bezelled away, using bead embroidery for the pieces which would sit flat against the backing, with a backstich starter continuing into a peyote bezel, some with some picot or similar embellishments. For the large Swarovski stone which would sit in the centre I wanted a beadwoven bezel so that it could sit up above everything else, giving dimensional interest, so I used netting, and featured some lovely dyed agate faceted beads I’ve been hoarding forever, along with sparkly crystals. And I also beaded some similar bezels around some rivolis to form more ‘flowers’, and a different variant for some chatons – again these would add height, textural interest and of course sparkle.
As I beaded I checked the layout continually, taking pictures as I worked so I could assess (and remind myself of my plan later!).
Once I’d finished all the bezelling and finalised the layout I glued the flat backed bezels onto another piece of bead backing, and where needed, added more rows of bead embroidery. I added the bronze pieces, and then before adding the final bezelled rivolis and crystals, filled in all of the visible backing with seed beads, crystals and groups of fuchsia agate berries.
And then I beaded a simple spiral rope which was attached through the largest bronze piece on one side, and behind a rivoli on the other, and added a lovely Anna Bronze seed pod toggle clasp.
By the time I’d done all that the main piece was getting a little floppy – both from the weight of the pieces, and from the amount of stitching (as this will inevitably make the backing less rigid), so I added another slightly smaller layer of Nicole’s Bead backing before adding a..