Sunday, 23 November 2008

Flower Power!

It's a cold, grey and snowy day here in Mansfield and so I thought I'd brighten things up by posting some cheerful beaded flower pictures. I have designed a series of three flower brooches, the first of which, Primrose Pin, is in the new issue of Bead magazine which is out now. Next in the series is Poppy Pin, followed by Periwinkle Pin.

The second photo of the full set is courtesy of Bead magazine - don't they look great nestled on the grass like that?

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Cosmic Peacock!

Well after panicking last week and fearing that I may have to give up beading, I've actually managed to do rather a lot of it this week! I received some great advice from other crafters who suffer from all sorts of work related ailments and I've come to realise that it's all part of the deal, especially when coupled with getting older! That has made me aware that if I want to continue doing what I love, I have to start taking better care of myself, so I have changed my posture slightly, taken regular breaks and done lots of stretching exercises - thank you to everyone who offered advice.

So, let me show you what I have been working on and why I was getting so frustrated. I have finally managed to pull together most of the components in my 'Ingredients ...' post, although I left out some and included others. I love the new Swarovski Cosmic Rings, and I wanted to find a way to incorporate them into my beadwork but I knew it would be a challenge as they don't have any holes in - well apart from the huge one in the middle that is! They come in a range of colours, but I chose the Bermuda Blue in the end, which is a glorious mixture of blues and greens that you could lose yourself in, it made me think of peacock feathers and so the idea gradually grew.

I started out by making a single circular pendant which I liked, but I knew I could do more with it. Then I changed the shape slightly so that it became a tear-drop shape and better reflected the shape of the 'eye' in a peacock feather. It looked nice, but it looked lonely. Next, I did some research and looked at lots of photos of peacocks and peacock feathers for inspiration and gradually had the idea that I wanted to create something long and elegant that would curve gracefully around the neck. So I created two 'eyes' and then spent some considerable time making forty inches of narrow, gently twisting beaded rope so that it can be worn wrapped in a long sinuous curve.

I have incorporated five different stitches into this piece and typically for me, only used one type of bead in three shades, two Cosmic Rings, two Lapis Lazuli beads and three shades of thread. I am very pleased with the outcome and I hope it achieves the deceptively simple look I was striving for. I would love to hear what you think!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Back to beading ... but for how long?

As promised after my little rant last week, normal beady business has now been resumed. I hope it stays that way too, but I have a fear. For nearly three weeks now I have had an odd 'sensation' in my upper left arm, that's the best way I can describe it really, and it has now developed into a burning pain coupled with a loss of grip in my hand. I suspect it's RSI as I must admit that being a bead addict I have not taken care of myself over the years. I spend long periods of time sitting in awkward positions without taking breaks. I use impossibly long lengths of thread as I don't like to have knots within my work unless it's absolutely necessary and I hold my work with a death-like grip to maintain a really good tight tension. Oh, and I do rather a lot of typing too! Does anyone have any experience of this or tips as to the best way to handle it that they can pass on to me?

Anyway, let's continue with the beady pictures while we can. This week I had a commission. My friend Tracy saw a cuff bracelet I was wearing that I had made for myself to match a stripey top in blues and greens. She wanted the same style but in elegant black with a few touches of silver, together with a matching ring to wear to various Christmas parties. The cuff is just straightforward herringbone, embellished with some size 8 beads zig-zagging down the centre and either side. It has a brick stitch toggle clasp. The ring is made using increasing peyote stitch with a few black diamond Swarovski crystals in the centre and it has a right angle weave band. All quite plain and simple but I think Tracy will look very striking at those parties!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A little rant ...

I've been blogging for 8 months now and from the start I wanted this to be a happy place to visit and so I kept it bright and breezy with lots of pretty pictures of my two passions of beadwork and flowers. But like my picture in the previous post, this is just an image that doesn't tell the whole truth. This picture was used in my profile in the latest issue of Bead magazine in which I hinted at some of the darkness, and yes it is a picture of me beading in our garden. I heard from one or two people that they liked that image, that they wanted to be me, wearing that dress, beading in that garden. I don't dispute that I am a very lucky person but like most photographs, that picture is posed. Perhaps the way I have portrayed myself is the reason I receive quite a few emails almost demanding to know how to do something without even a please or thank you, or why a few people think it is OK to 'buy' something from me and then not send me the money, or to send me aggressive or abusive messages, or to copy my work without acknowledging me? To be fair, I also receive lots of wonderful messages too and I take the good with the bad and respond to every one in the same kind and friendly way that I would like to be treated.

I hadn't really meant to say all this, but it ties in nicely with the main subject of today's post. My lovely husband Simon was made redundant last month and has so far not found another job. On top of that, on Monday he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis which is an auto-immune disease in which the body attacks itself - in Simon's case it is in his lungs and already his lung capacity is down to 60% of what it should be. It was a scary thing to hear and we knew nothing about this condition, but I have since heard from lots of my beady friends who have or know someone with this problem and with the right treatment the outlook is good. We will get through this together. I am very thankful for the new friends I have found through my beadwork and for those who treat me as an equal human being and see the person behind the image. To the few who seem to either want to be me or have a piece of what they think I have, I would say "Welcome, but not everything in my garden is rosy!"

There, that's got that off my chest - normal beady service will be resumed next week!