July 23, 2010

Look What Happens

.... when you take a workshop and it gets the creative urges going. This is sort of freeform beading as the only idea I started out with was, "this would make a great bead crochet rope tassel."

It all started with a NanC Meinhardt workshop at the Bead Bush Studio.
I just threw some of my favorite bead colors into a tote and went with the idea of exploring what NanC had to offer. Once I had this sample end underway it kept looking more and more like a great bead crocheted lariat end.

OK, tassel end finished and I'm thinking I need something interesting to transition from rope end to tassel.
Back to my bead stash to find I have a lot of pale pink Czech fire polish crystals. Rings .... wouldn't a series of rings work as an interesting element between rope and spiral? So I spent an evening, laying in bed, making a series of rings. I was too lazy to get up and see if they fit or not, but had an idea that the smallest might be the right size for a sort-of end cap.
Here is the smallest to the largest size rings that I made, with several graduated ones in between.
Now I needed to start on a rope to put it all together. In Bead Crochet, "the last bead strung is the first bead crocheted". This meant that I had to think my necklace design through from the end opposite from the tassel. I needed to start stringing with the middle of the rope and end stringing with the portion that would be the closure end.
The start of the crocheted rope is a piece in size 11/0 beads that will ultimately be wired in a spiral for a closure along the lines of my Wired Zipper Necklace. The spiral will be in place of the art bead.
Will the rings work?
Yes, they will. I try fitted them onto the rope to check sizes and colors together. The smallest rings will not slip onto a 6-around, size 11/0 rope and will function as end caps. The other rings will slide onto a rope, stack into an inverted cone shape but, will also have enough slack to move around. So far the colors are all falling into a range that pleases me - sage greens and pinks with hints of amethyst..
Now I need to finish crocheting the segment that's strung; string about two more segments and put it all together. I'll be stringing 36" to 40+ inches of beads and adding in thread for each section. I'm not quite sure how long this lariat will be as it's still a design as I go piece.
It would also be interesting to use beaded rings as rope enhancers for a plain bead crocheted rope. These rings are my own netted concoction. However, if you want a great pattern for something similar, check out Nikia Angel's Sparkly Wheels at Bead-Patterns. They are also in the June/July 2010 issue of BeadWork Magazine.

July 19, 2010

progress - Encrusting

Same piece, different attempts to photograph it.

This combination of beads seems to defy getting a good photo. Two different backgrounds, several different lighting setups, including overcast outside lighting, and neither really shows what the actual piece looks like. Anyway, I've gone as far as I want with this tail end piece from NanC's workshop. Now I need to rummage through all of my beads to find colors and finishes that will make a complimentary bead crochet rope.

Interesting terminology:
NanC talks about Embellishing, which encompasses what I've done to the edge of this piece.

Then she differentiates that from Encrusting, which I've done to the lower section of the spiral by adding elements to the surface.

Does that make sense to you?

July 17, 2010

Basha Beads

This is what happens when you track down the artist and place an order with only general guidelines as to shape and size. I left the rest up to Barbara to make what she saw fit. These beads were in today's mail and they are awesome.

They are her Greco Roman or Labradotite series beads and she did me a favor in making them as large as her method would allow. I almost hate to incorporate them into beadwork as individually and as a strand they are works of art all on their own.

Barbara Metzger is Basha Beads; lives and works in a beach town in Oregon. She doesn't have a web site, but does have a few pieces in an Etsy Shop.
Now I'm going to gloat for awhile . . . these are mine, all mine, at least for a little while.
Aren't they amazing beads?

NH Workshop Treat

Yesterday I took off into the wilds of NH to take a "Rapunzel" workshop with NanC Meinhardt. If you don't know her work, it's fantastic. Her Mask series was what first caught my interest years ago. I just plain like the way she thinks in beads.

"Let Me In", photo courtesy of

Finding the Bead Bush Studio was an adventure in itself. Let's just leave it at the fact that I got lost and arrived 15 min late... never mind that I can get lost in my own back yard!

What a great bead space tucked into the tranquil woods of Deerfield NH.

You walk into an open, well lighted space filled with a great selection of beads and accouterments. The interests and personality of the owner, Judy Bush shows up throughout the shop in the particular choices of interesting beads from around the world.

One of the nice surprises was their Master Beading Program. With beading instructor Deb Fairchild, Judy "created their Master Beader Program. An innovative three-level certificate program designed to allow participants to enjoy the challenge and explore the fun of beading as they become proficient at the techniques they love."

Unfortunately my camera ran out of battery at this point so I don't have any photos of the classroom or NanC showing us what to do next.

If you are ever in the area, spending a couple of hours (or more) in the Bead Bush Studio is well worth your time.

"Rapunzel" is a great lariat piece that incorporates a different way to do flat peyote and add an integral increase to make it spiral. I rather liked the idea of making a "sample piece" rather than spending time just starting the long lariat. NanC emphasises the creative side of "what would happen if..." By doing a shorter sample I was able to let my hands and mind learn the thread paths while trying out variations on bead combinations. Now that I know what I'm doing I could chose beads and colorways and take the time to stitch up a long lariat if I choose. This is the sample that I finished in class.
However, I'm going my own way . . . I determined that the 2-bead start will tuck up inside a 6-around, 9/0 3-cut bead crochet rope. I can see one or more of these flexible, bead encrusted spirals on the end of a long bead crochet rope. Maybe a wired spiral closure on the other end - will have to wait and see.
NanC has drastically cut back on her teaching schedule, saying that she's in semi-retirement. I seldom take classes but, I'd take another from this teacher any time, anywhere. If you have the chance to take a workshop with her, don't hesitate one moment - just go for it. You won't be disappointed.

July 15, 2010

Adding in Thread: bead crochet ropes

This lariat is 70" long. That's almost 6' of finished rope. It took about 70 yards of thread to crochet it or about 10 yards of strung beads. That's a very long string of beads to manage as you crochet. For me, it's just too long to handle at one time. Besides, counting out a pattern while stringing that many beads is sure to lead to one or more errors in the stringing. My mind just can't handle all of that as I much prefer crocheting to stringing. I only string about a yard of beads at any one time, crochet it and then string another yard of beads . . . it's all about being able to add in new threads of strung beads.
I keep hearing people complain about stringing errors in their bead crochet and having to undo and re-string the whole thing to correct a sequence. One or two extra beads are easy to just break out to correct an error. A whole missing sequence or major stringing screw up is a whole different animal - and ever so frustrating.
Just keep in mind:
The last bead strung is the first bead crocheted.
For those of you who don't know how to add in new thread, I've put up a PDF tutorial on my website that walks you through how I do it.
You can reach it through the "links/tutorials" link on my web page. (scroll down under "new work" block)
Please remember that, "the last bead strung is the first bead crocheted". This is important as when you string a section of rope to add in to your already crocheted rope, you need to reverse the pattern in the newly strung section to get everything to line up properly.
I sometimes cheat and design in 2 rows of plain background colored beads on both the old and new sections so I don't have to worry about joining a pattern exactly.
If you've missed a row of beads, determine where they should go, cut your thread, string the missing beads on the thread, add the thread back into your work and keep crocheting. A minute or two compared to hours of re-stringing beads.
Now, doesn't that make things so much easier??

July 4, 2010

Some Summer Beading

It's time to string up a bunch of bead crochet projects to take with you while you enjoy some of your Summer activities. Have something on hand while at the beach, lake, pic-nic, camping, family reunions, or anywhere you will be sitting for awhile.
To help you get going, I've put some complete project instruction sets on sale at Bead Patterns for a week - July 5 through July 11.

You might like to try:

Snazzy Chain Necklace - Item # 11943

A great fun necklace that can use up lots of leftover beads and isn't any more complicated than chain stitching with a crochet hook. These make the perfect, light weight necklaces to pair with Summer wear.

Wired Zipper Necklace - Item # 16664

This is a great way to showcase an Art Bead. It's a balanced asymmetrical design. The wired section catches on a zipper toothed, triangular section of the rope to hold things where you want them - yet is fully adjustable. It would also look great with black & white paired with a primary colored Art Bead.

Copper Queen Caterpillar Bracelet - Item # 16554

Start planning for Fall with this rich, elegant bracelet made with drop freshwater pearls and real copper beads.

Caterpillar Bracelet in Lentils - Item # 16554

This one is fun for Halloween. However, you could pick out any color lentils and pair them with gilt lined opal seed beads.

Here's one my friend Cathy Lee made in lavender and pink.

And .... here is an easy bracelet to try right now:

Use YLI Jean Stitch variegated thread and string about 42" of clear 8/0 seed beads. Crochet in 6-around. This will make about a 7 1/2" rope/bracelet.

The variegated thread shows through the beads, giving you bands of color. This is the earth tone thread, but it also comes in bright jewel tones as well.

Have fun trying some of these Summer into Fall projects - Bead Crochet is the most portable beading there is.