May 17, 2006

West to East

It's been so dry here in Arizona that even the cactus are wilted. However, my summer home in New Hampshire seems to be under water!

I've run out of matte green 8/0 beads, so I guess I'm done with the pink/green colorway until I can replace my supply of green beads. Twist Gallery in Bisbee wanted as many pieces in this very popular color combination as I could give them for the summer. So I guess this is all that will be delivered tomorrow.

I'm getting ready to make my way cross country to my summer studio in the East. I keep thinking that it will get easier every trip to get ready - practice makes perfect, no? NO!! I've got organized and un-organized piles all over the house. I've yet to get the car in for a thorough cleaning & it's trip check-out, do a farewell dinner with my 2 sisters, advise the utilities of "shut-off" dates, plant 2 yucca's, and a multitude of other small things.

The beadroom needs the last window trim painted and all my project beads sorted back into their proper boxes. My work table is piled with left-over kits, kit supplies, bead crochet samples and tools. We won't even mention what my desk and filing piles look like.
I'm tired just thinking about what needs to be done before I close up the house for the summer.

This trip will take me through Dallas TX, Gilmer TX, Memphis TN, where I'll get in some creative beading time with Medieval Needle. Then I'll head to Louisville KY and spend a couple of days sightseeing with friends before heading to Ohio to visit my favorite dog, and winter visitor/helper, Boo. After that I'll trek across the bottom of the Great Lakes to get to New Hampshire and spend the summer with my kids & Grandkids.

Look for a mid June update of the trip.

May 12, 2006

Can't Leave it Alone - Cuff Bracelet

KL Schmidt has a beautiful cuff bracelet design in the April 2006 issue of Bead & Button Magazine. Several of us traveling beaders (beadtrekers) just had to try it out. However, I just can't leave a design alone and have to fiddle with it. The first thing is my dislike for working with Delica(TM) beads so I got out a selection of 8/0 beads for the base. I wanted instant gratification and after all, the base is just to hold the surface embellishments, isn't it? The next thing was a dislike for the convoluted turn, thread path needed in a 2-drop Peyote pattern. So I used my own multi-drop peyote pattern/design for the base. This consists of a single-drop (is that a bead term?) edge and a 2-drop middle portion. This way I could string the surface embellishments out of the bottom of the single edge bead and not have to try and get a needle between the two beads of a 2-drop section. Perfect..... The top layers are not quite as plush as the original, but with the larger scale of everything I think they worked out beautifully.

What Did I learn From All of This:
Along the way of, "I wonder what would happen if.....?" I thought that if 2-drop was good, 3-drop might go even faster. So I made the copper-bronze cuff with a 3-drop center.

Japanese 8/0 seed beads are more regular in size and shape and make a smoother base. Also a 2-drop center section allows for a smoother curve to the bracelet. In 2-drop, with a single edge bead you can vary the width by figuring bead counts: multiples of 4 + 2 = starting rows count.

Czech Republic 8/0 beads have some unique colors, but are more irregular in size and shape. They make a more relaxed, informal base. Cezch beads coupled with a 3-drop interior section comes out sort of wibbly-wobbly and does not make a nice curved shape. To use a 3-drop, with single edge bead, you vary the width by figuring bead counts: multiples of 6 + 2 = starting rows count.

I made some notes of all of my experimenting with Karmen's great bracelet design. You may have a copy of those notes in PDF format here. You can see more of Karmen's original here. Please thank her for a fantastic design.

May 6, 2006

Nopal Bracelet

The Nopal or Prickly Pear Cactus is in full bloom outside of my Arizona Studio window. It's a distraction as I keep admiring the new flowers that open each morning. Since I still had the hot (red/orange/yellow) palette of beads on my work table, an idea surfaced to bead a Nopal bracelet with Mother Nature's wonderful color combinations.


Let's see, start with the flower..... Make petals with the idea of joining them together in a centerpiece. Somehow that just became too structured for me so I switched to a free form peyote technique and incorporated the petals into the form.

Next I picked up the beautiful purple and green of the unopened flower buds for the strap. I love the way that different sized beads undulate along the length of the strap. Next I went back and added more beads and detail to the flower.

This bracelet most certainly will be noticed as the flower fills the top of the wrist and sits halfway up my hand. I'm very pleased with the way the bracelet finished up, however it is much more tropical than "cactus flower' looking. Seldom does a design come out exactly as I see it in my mind's eye and I am often surprised with the final results.

May 2, 2006

a Bead Cave & Bits of Creativity

I spent last weekend at a bead cave
(read that as an adult women's slumber party with beads!)
I was to teach other members how to do wire wrapped bead charms and a bottle cap bracelet.

The day before the cave I was in a Dollar General store and ran across these unique key chains with large plastic drop beads. The light bulb went on.....

A bottle cap key ring might be quicker to do to learn the technique - voila, they came out fantastic..... .

I have an instruction set for sale on if anyone has an inclination to apply it to making a key ring - it's here.

My sample is on the right; next is Helen's Angel
key ring and Crystal's Beadtrekers ring.
They are lightweight and have a nice muted
sound to them. Didn't they come out awesome?

I had fun exploring what happens when you increase and decrease bead sizes in even count peyote. Crystal came down for the cave from outside Phoenix AZ and taught us how to make a shell bracelet. As I had just grabbed beads, not planned the beads to bring, I had to improvise.
However I like the way it came out. I think I might make another shell-type bracelet using some colors from Mother Nature's palette. The large Nopal Cactus is blooming outside my beadroom window and the orange I used in the original bracelet is close to the bloom color - now to add some yellow, green and deep purple.....

I seem to be in a rut with this hot colorway. I've designed a bead crochet wedge that is a dimensional elongated triangle. I have hopes that it will pull up into a large circle once I've crocheted it. I can see how it should look and this is my second try at getting it to do what I see in my mind - red center circle, yellow sides and a parallel row of red drops around the outer edges. We'll see what happens this time as sometimes it take multiple revisions to get to the end product.

A Bead Cave is great for fostering creativity. Besides renewing old friendships you learn a lot, make new beading friends and eat very well. Electa & Pam were wonderful hostesses in a beautiful desert setting.