Friday, 9 January 2015

Rose Window Rivolis!

Hello everyone and Happy New Year to you!

I always like to look both backwards and forwards at this time of year and I'm actually giving myself a little pat on the back right now. It turns out that I had 17 projects published last year via the Preciosa Ornela website (based in the Czech Republic), Bead & Button magazine (based in the US) and Digital Beading Magazine (based in Australia). That is a whole lot of designing, beading, pattern writing, diagram drawing and proof reading and much of it evolved as the year went on - I think if I had known that kind of workload was ahead of me this time last year, I might have run away to hide in the woods. Taking stock of the past year is a good lesson to me and reminds me of what I can achieve step by step, or should I say 'bead by bead'. Anyway, turning my attention forward instead of back, it looks as though 2015 might be a quieter year for me publication wise, but I do have one or two things in the pipeline which I will of course share with you as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are now around 60 of my designs available in various places, so if you are looking for some inspiration, feel free to scroll through my blog and take a wander through my website or look here, here and here.

You might recognise the first pattern to be published in 2015 as it has been published before, but Rose Window Rivolis has been reworked in a different colour and is now available as a FREE download from the Preciosa website.

All you need to create yourself a pair of super sparkly earrings or an eye catching pendant are some 16 mm Rivolis and a sprinkling of Charlottes. I have made a pair of these earrings in both gold and silver now and they really do catch the light as they twirl, with the Rivolis glinting through the lacy overlay of the cut beads. Although these earrings are around 7 cm long, they are very light to wear as I've used the minimal amount of beads by capturing the Rivolis with netting stitch. Of course if dangly earrings are not your thing, adding just one component to an earring finding still gives a touch of shimmer in a much more toned down way.

I'm happy to say that the earrings have also been used in another Preciosa advert, this time in the February issue of Bead and Button magazine. The Preciosa photographer has truly captured the detail in this shot and you can really see the gorgeous warm sheen of the Crystal Honey Rivolis - thank you!

So that's it for this time. I hope 2015 is a sparkly year of endless creativity for you and that it holds many happy hours of beading.

See you next time!


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Charlotte Flowers!

Hello everyone!

Here I am again with another free party-themed bracelet pattern for you to download and enjoy. This time it is my Charlotte Flowers design which uses Charlottes and Rivolis from Preciosa Ornela to create a row of dazzling star-shaped blooms. You can download the pattern here.

When Preciosa first asked me to create a project for the holiday season, I had all sorts of beady ideas running through my mind; from baubles and brooches to tiaras and tree decorations. In the end though, I settled on an understated yet elegant bracelet that will quietly sparkle on your wrist like snow in the moonlight. I've captured luminous crystal AB Rivolis in nets of glittering silver Charlottes and then added radiant golden petals which appear to reflect the flash of the Rivolis.

As well as being added to the Preciosa project catalogue, this piece has also been used in one of their latest adverts which you can see here. The photo in the advert shows a nice close-up of the gorgeous clasp I used as the finishing touch for my party piece bracelet. It features a beautiful vintage floral brass button set into a sterling silver box clasp and is available from A Grain Of Sand.

I've just worked out that Charlotte Flowers is the seventeenth pattern I have published in 2014 and that's in addition to the patterns I sell via my website and the other forty or so projects that have previously been published (see the side bar for details). I hope my designs give you many happy hours of beading and I aim to bring you more of what you love in 2015.

See you next time!


Monday, 1 December 2014

Hexagonal Lace Cuff!

Hello everyone!

I'm happy to tell you that it's free pattern time again! Make lots of six-sided components using a mixture of Preciosa Ornela seed beads, Farfalle™ and Twin™ beads and connect them all together to create this dramatic cuff style bracelet just in time for the party season. You can download the pattern here.

You might not recognise it, but this piece actually started out as Peas and Carrots bracelet which I made in August of last year. Bead and Button magazine wanted something a little more 'subtle' though and so I made another one using a combination of black, silver and half jet and half labrador beads to add a touch of elegance.

This is quite a wide statement piece which needs a secure closure to keep the two halves in place and to prevent the outer rows from furling. On the original bracelet I used a piece of ribbon zig-zagged through two loops to keep everything firmly in place, but for the new colourway I've added two beautiful jet Swarovski box clasps from A Grain Of Sand to create a reliable fastening with a nice streamlined finish.

Whether you choose neon brights or classic black and silver (or something entirely different!) I hope you have fun with the pattern. And feel free to share pictures of your finished piece with me, Preciosa or Bead & Button as we would all love to see your Hexagonal Lace Cuff.

See you next time!


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Kazuri Kritters!

Hello everyone!

Back in August I posted the news that I have become a design team member for Many Hands Marketplace - Kazuri West and I showed you my Samunnat Flowers which use the gorgeous 'Bindu' beads made by the inspirational ladies of Nepal. I mentioned that I also had a small collection of African Kazuri beads and I was hoping to show some pieces made with these before now (but you know how life can sometimes change our plans) but finally, here are my Kazuri Kritters! I always like a touch of whimsy in my life and so as soon as I spotted these little handmade animal shaped buttons I knew they would be a perfect fit for me. I've created a set of three brooches and I've used lots and lots of seed beads from Preciosa Ornela to give each animal their own special shady tree.

Each piece is only 3 inches (8 cm) high but they took many hours to make as the 'leaves' are created with layer upon layer of small seed beads. And so as I was in full whimsical mode, I wrote each animal a little story as I beaded. Read on ...

Cheetah Tree

It's a searingly hot afternoon and Cheetah sits in the shade of his favourite tree. His belly is full from an earlier feast but still he hides in the long grass observing a herd of wildebeest - it's cheetah nature. He frowns as a lazy fly buzzes around him, flicks the tip of his handsome tail and yawns. Cheetah can see far, far into the shimmering distance and yet he doesn't notice a pair of Seeall birds nestled quietly in the foliage right above him. The birds watch Cheetah watching the wildebeest watching a dark shape in the shadow of the well known Cheetah Tree.

Zebra Tree

It's a bright African morning, the sky is cornflower blue with dazzling white clouds billowing on the horizon. Zebra stands under a Scarlet Blossom Tree contemplatively munching a fragrant red flower. His beautiful reverie is broken suddenly by an egret swooping down nearby. Zebra snorts, stamps a hoof and testily swishes his tail about his stripey muscular buttocks. And then he remembers the taste and the smell of those delicious rare ruby blooms that lay in abundance on the ground around him and he licks his lips in contented anticipation. All is right in Zebra's world again.

Giraffe Tree

It's just before sunset. A lone Pearlfruit Tree stands drenched in the heavy honey-dripping light making the fruit gleam like stars in the night sky. Giraffe stands under the tree with the weeping branches swaying and rustling around her slender elegant neck. She knows from experience that the enticing looking fruit are bitter to taste and will only dry her already parched and dusty throat even further - the real prize is the young fresh leaf buds that sprout high in the centre of the tree. She stretches upwards, effortlessly strips a twig and slowly closes her long dark lashes as she tastes the juicy sweetness.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my Kazuri Kritters and reading their stories and I hope you see what I see. Don't forget you can help support the work of Kazuri West by purchasing the beads, buttons and finished jewellery and if you would like to create your own mini safari, the animal buttons are available from this page.

See you next time!


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Pipflowers and Chexxagons!

Hello everyone!

I'm sorry for neglecting my poor blog recently and for leaving you all gasping for more beady news. I've spent the last couple of months away from home with very patchy internet access which made it almost impossible to keep my blog up to date. Don't worry though, I have been beading and also work that I prepared in previous months has been coming to fruition, so I have lots of things to tell you. The first piece of news is that I now have another FREE pattern available from Bead and Button magazine. This time it's the Pipflower bracelet from the Pip™ Collection which you can download here.

These little eight-petalled flowers are great fun to make and they work up really quickly so this dainty bracelet would make a nice gift - just in time for the holiday season! I chose these lovely bright vacuum coated Pip beads for my bracelet because I love the way they seem to flash and shine, alternating between hot pink and turquoise, but the Pips come in a huge range of different colours so you can easily change the look of the finished piece. You don't have to attach them with chain either, why not experiment and find other ways to connect them, or try sewing them on to finished beadwork.

The next thing to tell you is that there's also another brand new pattern available - this time in the sparkly new issue (issue 12) of Digital Beading Magazine. The Chexxagon necklace is also a component based design but this time it's a mixture of weaving and stringing using the new Chexx™ beads from  My necklace uses 23 little Chexxagons to create a long slinky necklace and I added the finishing touch of a gorgeous pearl clasp from A Grain Of Sand but you could easily make a shorter length necklace or bracelet or even a pair of earrings. I fell in love with the antique chrome Chexx beads, but as you can see from the advert on page 48 of Digital Beading Magazine, there are lots of stunning colours available - just imagine the Chexxagon necklace worked in those red Chexx beads for a Christmas party outfit!

The final piece of news for today is that Preciosa Ornela has used another of my pieces from the Pip™ Collection in one of their latest adverts - this time it is the little Pip Posy which features in a full page advert on page 6 of Digital Beading Magazine. Although you can't see them in this photo, these flowers have long green beaded stems which took me several days to make, so I'm afraid there isn't a pattern available for these BUT there will be a project in issue 13 of Digital Beading Magazine for something very similar, so stay tuned!

That's all for today but there will be more beady news just around the corner, so be sure to either check back regularly or sign up to the 'Follow by Email' option at the top of my blog.

See you next time!


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Tropical Twins!

Hello everyone!

It's new pattern time again and this time it's a design that I introduced to you exactly one year ago but you might not recognise it. I made the bright and bold Tropicana Cuff as part of my Preciosa Ornela neon collection using Preciosa neon Twin™ beads and seed beads and it was used as part of their advertising campaign last year.

Despite spending a year working solely in grey beads, I am a big fan of these particular neon beads as they have such a lovely soft matte finish to them, but I know they are not to everyone's tastes. Bead and Button magazine wanted to publish this design as part of my year long run of projects with them but they weren't so sure about the neon colours and so I made another bracelet in different colours. For this one I chose a variety of purple Twin beads and seed beads for the flowers but I gave them a few touches of gold to give them an exotic tropical appearance and nestled them between olive green leaves to complete the lush rain forest look.

The project has now been renamed 'Tropical Twins' and you can find it on page 64 of the new October 2014 issue of Bead & Button magazine.

I hope you have fun with my latest pattern, whether you go for sunshine brights, jewel tones or even moonlight greys. The flowers and leaves are quick and easy to work up and the whole piece is interchangeable so you can make as many leaves, flowers and buds as you wish and thread them in any order you choose.

See you next time!


Friday, 22 August 2014

The Wedding Collection!

Hello everyone!

Back in June/July it might have seemed as though I had gone very quiet and you may have thought that I was neglecting my beads in favour of the summer sunshine - but actually I was secretly working on a beaded wedding collection for Preciosa Ornela. It's been a long time since I've been to a wedding and when I got married (20 years ago!) I didn't even bead and so I had to really dig deep when I was wondering about what to make. Rather than making random items, I knew I wanted to make a cohesive colour themed collection that would fit an imaginary wedding but I only had a limited colour palette to work with. I decided to go with traditional white for the bride and pink for the flowergirl and then mixed pink and white for the remaining items - apart from a dash of shiny black for the groom. The first person in the wedding party to be kitted out was my imaginary groom who received a pair of black and white floral cufflinks - a touch of beadwork for him, but not too much.

Next I turned my attention to the bride and as I had recently been working with Preciosa's Pip beads, I decided to use some lovely alabaster Pip beads to make her a matching Kumihimo necklace and bracelet set.

I had a few white Pip beads left over so I decided to make the bride a  pair of matching earrings and a set of three hair grips. I also made her a decorated hair comb by attaching a single Pip flower and adding some tiny seed bead leaves and a couple of sparkling crystal AB fire polished beads for a touch of understated sparkle.

I wanted the bride to glide elegantly down the aisle without being too weighed down by beadwork so I left her collection at that, hoping that the soft sheen of the white beads and the odd glimpse of silver would add to her natural glowing beauty without taking over. Next I pictured a pretty little flowergirl of perhaps 3 or 4 years old and first I made her a tiny wrist corsage with a simple pale pink Pip flower threaded onto sheer pink organza ribbon. She also has a matching hair band with three pale pink flowers which sit on top of her hair with a lovely pink bow tied at the back.

Of course being a flowergirl, our little girl needed some flowers to carry and so I created a small posy for her. In order to bring the pink and white theme together I used a mixture of pink and white seed beads for the petals, added some crystal AB fire polished beads for the stamens and some bright shiny green metallic stems. The posy is tied with the same sheer pink organza ribbon that I used for her bracelet and hair band. Can you imagine how long this single item took to make?

Next I thought about the wedding guests and I remembered that they would need a buttonhole. So I made a larger version of the flowergirl's pink and white speckled flower and added a bow and a pin to make it easy for them to attach it to their outfit.

After that I turned my attention to making items to decorate the tables for the wedding feast and of course I wanted it all to be pink and white to be in keeping with the wedding jewellery. First I decorated a plain white candle with some pale pink flowers.

Then I thought the guests might like something to take home to remind them of the beautiful pink and white wedding and so I decorated some simple white bags with pink and white seed beads, added some pale pink flowers, filled it with heart-shaped chocolates wrapped in silver foil and tied it with pink ribbon. Those chocolates are delicious by the way!

The little flowers that I had made to decorate the candle and favour bag were quick and easy to work up and so I made a few more of them, along with some tiny seed bead hearts to use as table scatters to decorate the top table.

And to round off the collection I decided to create a place card holder so that everyone would know where to sit. I made a freestanding flower with the same randomly speckled pink and white flowers that I had used for the flowergirl's posy and the guests' buttonholes and added some leaves, a long crystal stamen and a pink bow and I invited a very special guest.

So there you have it - the results of four weeks of quiet beading! Although some of these pieces are very tricky and time consuming to make, I enjoyed every minute of it and loved the opportunity to let my imagination run wild - thank you Preciosa!

See you next time!