An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gold Dust treasury features Dax's Gold Fire bracelet

Pop by if you get a moment and have a look at the fabulous golden items featured in Art Nomadax's Gold Dust for NYE - Golden Treasures from a Sunburnt Country treasury. It's lovely to have my Gold Fire bracelet featured amongst the talented Australian DUST Etsy team's work.

You might also enjoy the fabulous clothing and accessories of its curator Art Nomadax. http://www.artnomadax.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Two treasuries for Xmas and websites that save time for Etsy shopowners

Woke up on the day after Xmas to find two different Etsy treasuries featuring my work. Pepper Minty: a bit of holiday spice! was a treasury curated by a fellow Etsy Beadweaver - HauteIceBeadwork. She featured my Hot Chilli Ziangle necklace (see photo) . The second treasury was A Southern Spectrum: some vibrant colours to brighten... curated by artnomadix from the Down Under Street Team (DUST) included my Tangerine Fizz necklace (

When I say I woke up to find these two treasuries with my work in them, I didn't just stumble across the information at the bottom of my bed. I found out about the treasuries on (see photo of what it looks like). Craftopolis is a great time saving device for Etsy shopowners. It's one of the free access websites that tells Etsy sellers if they are in a treasury or not at the click of a button. This website also lets you know when treasuries are opening up, how many hearts your shop has, whether or not your items are in an Etsy gift guide. All great time-saving devices. In fact, there are several free time-saving websites for Etsy shopowners on the web. Here are the ones I know of and use:
  • TREASURIES. Craftopolis - - this is the quickest way to check if you are in a treasury or not and when treasuries are opening up.
  • SHOP AND ITEM HEARTS AND VIEWS. Craftcult heartomatic - - this is the quickest way to check your shop and item hearts and item views. It has a great feature that allows you to reset the item views so you know how many new views you have had since a particular date. I find the heartomatic much quicker than a similar function offered on craftopolis.
  • FEATURED ON ETSY - Craftcult - allows you to seet if you have been featured on the Etsy Front Page or in The Storque, and if any of your items are currently in a Gift Guide.
  • CHARTS TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS ON ETSY - Craftcult - also a series of easily created charts so you can track your progress on Etsy in a variety of ways. It can help you learn the gender of your viewers, whether or not they are buyers or sellers and you can see where you peak viewing times have been.
  • STATSY - LOTS OF FEATURES - Statsy - Here you can look for your biggest fan, see if you have been featured on Etsy's front page, track Etsy views in a variety of ways and locate where an item will appear in an Etsy search using your keywords.
Whilst none of these devices directly bring sales they do save time for Etsy sellers who want to understand their visibility on Etsy and who are trying to learn more about their customers and potential customers. More time for making and promoting means more potential sales. If you know of other helpful sites for Etsy sellers I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Beading rarity and the price of a beader’s labour

Some tiny hanks of antique metal beads that a member of my partner’s music group showed me last week have inspired this post. I knew the moment that I saw the tiny bead hanks emerge from their old cigar tin home that I was looking at antique French cut beads.

Most of the tiny size 18/0 beads were still on their original threads in t
heir tiny 2-inch hanks. It was such a pleasure to watch the unmistakable sparkle that their single ground faceted side produced. These beads, often referred to as Charlottes, were first used in France in the 1840s for making beaded purses.

They were also widely used at the turn of the 19th century in Peranakan beading. Peranakan beading is a form of bead embroidery that was used by women of the Chinese community (Peranakan) in the Malaccan Straits to create beaded items for their wedding chambers. These items included wall hangings, pillow covers, slippers, vases and spectacle cases. Peranakan beadwork is highly coloured and uses the most wonderfully intricate floral motifs and Chinese symbols to create works of art. It was the job of a betrothed woman to produce the beaded items for the wedding chamber as part of her dowry. The detail and scale of this beadwork meant that many hundreds of hours of unpaid labour went into adorning the wedding chamber. Peranakan beading declined after World War II, so pieces from the early 1900s are very collectible and very expensive.

It was in Singapore that I first saw an original early 1900s piece of Peranakan beadwork up close. It was a breathtakingly beautiful wall hanging for above the wedding bead. The hundreds of unpaid hours that had gone into its making was very evident. It was the same day that I first saw a stash of the beautiful vintage Charlotte hanks that had been used to create the original beadwork. I had just finished taking a beading class with Robert Sng (see photo of Robert at work) a Singaporean beader working to keep the art of Peranakan beadwork alive by making and selling Peranakan beaded slippers and giving classes. At the end of my second class with him he opened a drawer in his shop to show me some beautiful antique Peranakan beadwork and his stash of tiny hanks of antique Charlotte beads that he had bought in France. The beadwork was stunning and the tiny hanks of beads a thing of beauty. They were so dainty and sparkly. Robert uses the antique Charlottes to bead his most beautiful and intricate slipper designs. Each pair of slippers take him over 80 hours to complete and he sells them for around 800.00 Singapore dollars. Whilst that’s more than the Peranakan women received for their beading labours $10.00 per hour is barely a living wage in Singapore. Robert says that he does it as a labour of love to keep the art alive it but it seems sad and unfair that such little value is placed on his skilled beadwork. He is such a delightful and passionate advocate for this traditional bead art. Mind you, recent conversations amongst the Etsy Beadweavers Team suggest that he is not alone in that. Many contemporary beadwork artists in the US and beyond struggle to earn more than $10.00 an hour for their stunning work. Things of beauty do have intrinsic value but those who make them do need to eat, pay mortgages and generally survive. The tiny hanks of Charlotte beads used by the French beaded purse makers and the Peranakan beaders were so common from the 1840s and through to the turn of the 19th century that they sold for just a few cents. Now you can buy them online for between US 20.00 and US 30.00 per hank. I wonder if in another 100 years the labour of beadweavers will increase similarly, or will we still be struggling to earn a living?

If you are ever in Singapore you can see Robert’s work in his shop - Little Shophouse, 43 Bussorah St, Singapore. Phone: 6295 2328). The art of Peranakan beadwork, like the hanks of antique French beads I saw in Robert’s shop is now becoming quite rare and today Robert is one of the few remaining practitioners of the art. It’s a great privilege to see the work and meet the delightfully friendly man behind it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Summer down under treasury

I haven't had work featured in an Etsy treasury for a while so it was a lovely surprise to find my Tangerine Dreams cuff bracelet in this treasury celebrating the talents of the Down Under Street Team (DUST) artists.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Is it transparent, translucent, luminescent or fluorescent? Some homework on the language of luster (lustre)

Lately I have been struggling to find the right words to describe the qualities of the beautiful cabochons that star in my recent beadwork creations. When you see the cabochons in real life they speak for themselves. However, in the online environment words and photos need to speak for them. As you can’t touch and feel a photo even the very best of photos struggle to convey the play of light and texture that comes when you hold an object in your hand.

A case in point was the stunning sea sediment jasper pendant (see photo) I have just listed on Etsy. The main close-up photo I took of Sea Jasper was one of my better quality photos. It’s far from perfect but it for an untrained photographer with a point and shoot camera it’s not bad. Yet, it just doesn’t convey the lovely soft sheen of the cabochon or capture the translucence you see in real life. Trying to describe the cabochon for listing on Etsy I realised just how limited my vocabulary is for describing gemstone surfaces.

This has begun to niggle at me and since listing the Sea Jasper necklace I’ve done some homework. I found some delightful words used by words used by those gemmologists to describe the surface of sea sediment jasper – it is transparent, translucid, luminescent and fluorescent. Fire agate, the centre of a piece I am working on at present is described on one gemmology site as iridescent. I now realise that it the gemmology language of ‘lustre’ I’m lacking. Lustre is the sheen, shine, patina or gleam of a surface, such as a gemstone. The language of lustre is full of wonderful adjectives – glow, glimmer, sparkle, glitter, twinkle, glisten and shimmer to name a few.

In gemmology lustre refers to the radiance and gloss of a gemstones surface that is created by light reflecting from it and there is a well-recognised language for describing the lustre of different gemstones. For instance:

  • Adamanite lustre: diamonds, zircon and rutile
  • Metallic lustre: hematite
  • Resinous lustre: amber
  • Greasy lustre: serpentine
  • Waxy lustre: turquoise
  • Pearly lustre: rhodinte
  • Silky lustre: tiger’s eye
  • Opalescent: opals

Whilst, greasy and resinous lustres might not instantly conjure up images of beauty and style, and very few people might know what an adamanite lustre is, I will add ‘silky’ and ‘pearly’ to my newly acquired lustre list.

My homework has given me 15 new words to help me try to speak for gemstones I use:

  1. Transparent
  2. Translucid
  3. Luminescent
  4. Fluorescent
  5. Pearly
  6. Silky
  7. Glowing
  8. Shining
  9. Glimmering
  10. Sparkling
  11. Glittering
  12. Twinkling
  13. Glistening
  14. Shimmering
  15. Opalescent

Friday, December 11, 2009

Superior Scribbler Award - thanks to Marsha of Hauteicebeadworks

I had a lovely surprise today. Marsha of Hauteice beadworks ( has given my blog a Superior Scribbler Award.

The rules aof recieving the award are these:
* Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 bloggy friends.
* Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & name of the blog from whom he/she has received the award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his/her blog and link to this post which explains the award.
*Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List - that way, we'll be able to keep up to date on everyone who receives the award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Here are my five:
  • Hughes News - for blogging about local and global issues all in one
  • Bead Jewelry blog - for suggesting great gifts for beaders
  • Art Bead scene blog - for their beady postings on the 12 days of Christman
  • Etsy Beadweavers blog - for such a great blog celebrating the talents of beadweavers internationally
  • DUST blog - for a blog that showcases the talents of artists down under

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Frustrations, favourites and fabulosity of beading threads

A class with Maggie Meister converted me to using coloured bead thread in my beadweaving. Maggie provided gold thread to use with the gold Toho beads that were central to the project she was teaching. Being a creature of habit I had started the project using my favourite thread - black Silamide. It quickly became apparent that Maggie’s gold beadwork was more fabulously gold than mine because she was using gold, not black thread. Then and there I became a convert to matching thread colour to my beads and quickly accrued a rainbow of beading threads. Each time I stumbled across a new colour thread I bought it. Suddenly, translucent Delica gained a beautiful soft glow when I used them. My latest creation (just about to post on Etsy) is a case in point. I used purple Silamide thread with translucent purple Delica beads and it has produced a fabulous soft purple glow to finished weaving. However, my stash of coloured threads has grown in a very adhoc way. I see a colour I don’t have and I buy it. This has produced a stash that is a kaleidoscope of thread brands and it’s taken me a while to learn that not all bead threads are equal. My purple Silamide thread has been so frustrating to use. It seems to split and fray so easily. Similarly, with the wonderful array of colours I have in Nymo thread. One-G and SoNo have been fabulous to use. SoNo in particular just seems to glide unproblematically through the needle every time. Unfortunately, my adhoc purchasing means that I only have those in burgundy and black. I also have an unreliable memory when it comes to remembering the frustrations and fabulosity of beading threads. So, to help lesson the frustrations of beading with threads that fray, tangle and split I’ve begun to summarise my experiences (see below) so I can be clear about what my favourite beading thread is and why. Would love to hear about your beading thread frustrations and fabulosity. What’s your favourite beading thread? Why?

KO Thread (Japan)
  • Circular cross section thread
  • Pre-waxed
  • Will fit through a size 12 and 10 beading needle. Similar to Nymo B. It is identical to TOHO brand One G thread 50 metres per spool.
  • 12 colours: White, Black, Natural, Ivory, Rose, Rich Red, Gold, Dark Olive, Light Blue, Purple, Dark Brown & Light Grey.
  • Easy to thread. K.O. is supple, abrasion-resistant, colourfast, tangle-resistant & knots tightly.
Nymo, (USA)
  • Lightly waxed strands of nylon
  • Ranges from the thinnest "OO'' and "O" to "A", "B", through "G". A & B are good for size 11/Os. 00 works with size 15/0 beads.
  • 64 yards per small bobbin
  • 16 colours: Baby Pink, Rosy Mauve, Red, Burgundy, Sand, Brown, Olive, Evergreen, Grey, Turquoise, Royal Blue, Dark Blue, Light Purple, Dark Purple, Golden Yellow
  • Frays easily.
Kaygee WA (AUS)
  • Not waxed
  • Fine, Medium, Thick.
  • Use with size #10 or size #12 English beading needles.
  • 30 metres per spool 3 colours: Ivory, White and Black Tendency to fray quickly & limited colour range
  • Frays easily and tangles
C-Lon Thread (USA)
  • UV resistant nylon monofilament. (7lb test for breakage)
  • Size D is suitable for use with Delicas, 11/0s, 10/0s, or larger beads. Use with size #10 or size #12 English beading needles.
  • 80 yards per bobbin.
  • 36 colours: Ash, Beige, Burgundy, Capri, Chocolate, Cream, Gold, Golden Yellow, Black, Brown, Charcoal, Chartreuse, Dark Cream, Dark Green, Grey, Green, Lavender, Light Blue, Light Orchid, Olive, Pink, Purple, Royal Blue, Seafoam, Light Brown, Light Copper, Orange, Orchid, Red, Rose, Sienna, Sky Blue, Tan , Teal Turquoise Blue, White.
  • Stronger than Nymo, more colours & relatively fray proof.
One G, Toho (Japan)
  • Nylon thread.
  • Equivalent in size to D in Nymo and C-Lon.
  • 50 yards
  • 12 colours; White, Black, Grey, Ash, Rosey-Mauve, Burgundy, Dark Brown, Tan, Cream-Yellow, Medium Blue, Puple, Olive
  • Similar to beading with K.O thread, smooth, fray resistant, easy to thread.
Silamide Beading Thread (USA)
  • Pre-waxed
  • Two-ply twisted nylon thread, Sizes A and O. Threads through Size 13 needles. Size A. Thread will only go through once for tiny beads such as 24/0 using a twisted wire needle.
  • Cards100 yard, 500 yard, 900 yard spools
  • 26 colours: White, Off White, Light Grey, Ash Grey, Medium Grey, Gold, Beige, Dusty Rose, Orange, Pink, Red, Burgundy, Lilac, Purple, Wine, Kelly, Olive Green, Dark Green, Aqua, Slate, Royal Blue, Dark Blue, Yellow, Light Brown, Dark Brown.
  • Stiffer weave than Nymo or C-lon. Strands separate easily, a tendency to fray quickly, not colourfast.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Selling beyond Etsy (1) - 40 creative options for selling beadwork, can we make it 50?

I was at my local Gem and Mineral Show at the weekend. It’s a relatively small affair run by the local Geelong Gem and Mineral Club ( each year. I found some lovely cabochons made by club members for sale at very reasonable prices. I was also surprised and delighted to find several folks selling beadwork. I thought – why didn’t I think of that? I don’t think a table at the show would have been very expensive and there were lots of people buying beads and beadwork. Prompted by this and by the recent conversations by the Etsy Beadweavers Team (EBW) (see links to their work below) about the challenges of generating online sales I’ve been reflecting on other creative options for generating beadwork sales. Below is a list I’ve generated from several online sites that talk finding outlets to sell craftwork. At first site, some suggestions might seem odd (e.g. dog shows) or unrealistic (chain stores) but on reflection they might not be. For instance, I’ve seen some delightful earrings with images of dogs on them made by the EBW team - here's a Beagle earring by Fantasy Beader of EBW
( and there's more than one article around on how to make beaded dog collars.

So, just like the creative beading challenges run by EBW and other bead groups I can see lots of creative challenges in thinking about what stock to take to a bird show or boat show. Here's some sweet boat earrings that show the possibilities. They are by Carosell Creations from EBW.

Love to hear how you might respond creatively to these suggestions, your experiences of the pros and cons of different venues or any other suggestions you have about creative venues to sell beadwork. I’d love to get the list to 50 with your help.

40 creative venue options for selling beadwork
1. Airport and hotel gift shops attract travelers in transit.
2. Antique shows
3. Apparel shows
4. Arts and crafts co-ops
5. Arts and crafts galleries
6. Baby / children’s expos
7. Bath / kitchen shows
8. Beauty shops sometime display jewelry items or let their customers know they have them for sale.
9. Bird shows
10. Boats / yachts shows
11. Bridal / wedding shows
12. Campgrounds at national parks and tourist areas often sell craft gifts from local artisans.
13. Cat shows
14. Chain stores
15. Dog shows
16. Ethnic events / festivals
17. Farmers’ markets
18. Fashion shows held locally
19. Festivals and bazaars
20. Fishing / hunting expos
21. Flea markets and swap meets
22. Gems /jewelry / lapidary shows
23. Gift and souvenir shops
24. Gift shows
25. Gift stores can also be found at marinas in coastal areas.
26. Gourmet stores stock food and gift baskets.
27. Heritage events / demonstrations
28. Home / garden shows
29. Home decor shows
30. Horse shows
31. Horticulture expos
32. Interior design shows
33. Landscaping shows
34. Mail-order outlets
35. Museum and hospital gift shops as well.
36. Museum gift shops
37. Open houses and craft parties
38. Sidewalk arts and crafts exhibits
39. Specialty shops
40. Wine festivals


Etsy Beadweavers Team

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beading inspirations and challenges – Smoky Agate and Moonwalk memories – Bead Society of Victoria (BSV) 2009 Bead Challenge

Each year the BSV holds a Bead Challenge associated with their annual Bead Expo. All entrants purchase a bead pack and they must use all beads in the pack in their design. This year the pack contained agate, pearls and Czech glass with just a hint of apricot. Their soft glow reminded me of moonlight. I don’t usually work with such understated colours so I knew a challenge was ahead. Mind you I had known just I just what a challenge those moonglow beads would bring I am not sure I would have started the project. Yet, I am delighted I did. I was thrilled to learn last night that my my entry to the 2009 BSV Bead Challenge Moonwalk Memories (pictured here) won first prize and came second in the Public Vote for the challenge.

I began designing my BSV challenge entry the week that Michael Jackson died. My partner was a great Jackson fan so the event was very present in our house that week and much of its early design was done to the sounds and sights of Michael Jackson. I quickly decided to use the two beautiful pieces of smoky agate that are it’s centre with the challenge beads and I rifled through my bead stash to find other beads I thought might help the design process. But, then the challenge began in earnest. I had several failed attempts at integrating the challenge beads with the smoky agate and I found myself undoing and redoing work on the piece throughout that week and the weeks that followed. In frustration I put the piece away and considered just giving up. I moved onto other less challenging projects but what became Moonwalk Memories niggled at me. It wasn’t until the last few days before the entries were due I finally found a way forward and I charged ahead with the remaining beading. Of course my way forward involved discarding some of my previous beading efforts. I was finally pleased with the design. Proudly showing my partner the finished entry the night before I was due to send it off I realised to my horror that I had left out a large Czech glass bead I was required to include. Moonwalk Memories was challenging me yet again. Miraculously, inspiration came and I made changes that actually improved the design and included the Czech glass bead. I was finally ready to post my entry to the challenge but there was one more challenge left – what to name a design that had challenged me since it’s birth. My partner suggested Moonwalk Memories. I liked it. The beautiful smoky agate at it’s heart reminded me of the dark side of the moon, those challenging soft apricot beads reminded me of moonlight and 2009 was the 40th anniversary of the first time humanity walked on the moon. Whilst my challenges were not quite in the order of those that got humanity to the moon this seemed a fitting title. It also seemed a fitting way for me to remember the life of Michael Jackson – after all his moonwalk and his music had surrounded the birth of my design in the week of his death.

If you pop by the BSV website you’ll see the 2009 Challenge Beads but more importantly the fabulous designs by past winners - The site is a great place for some beading inspiration.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Size 11/0 seed beads aught to be same, but they're not

Thanks to an EBW team member I've discovered that despite aughts providing a uniform way of measuring seed beads there is much more to size 11/0 than meets the eye. It depends on who you buy your 11/0 beads from what size they are. Here's what I've found from my web search. They can vary from 1.6 mm (Delica 11/0) to 2.2 mm (Toho 11/0). So, whilst an aught aught to tell us how big our beads are clearly seed bead manufacturers have their own view. For those of us who who are beaders this might just explain why working with seed beads brings challenges to create even weaves. So, now we need to match more than colours to ensure our beads match - we need to know who made them!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Aughts and naughts and some handy facts about seed bead sizing

Seed bead sizing has always puzzled me. To me it’s counter intuitive to have an inverted system of numbering – the larger the number the smaller the bead. Logically a size 20 bead sounds larger than a size 5 bead – but of course, when it comes to seed beads it’s not. The tiniest seed bead is size 25 (25/0) and the largest size 5 (5/0). How did that come to be? I heard recently that the size number refers to number of beads that will fit side by side in an inch. That made sense and I thought, that's good a way to picture what size beads I need. However, as with many things in life it’s not that simple. It’s all to do with ‘aughts’.

What is an aught you might well ask? An aught is a unit of measurement for measuring seed bead sizes. It is denoted by the symbol a backslash with a zero (/0). Hence,
when you see a seed bead referred to as size 11/0 it means the bead is eleven aughts in size. The symbol makes some sense if you know that the word aught derived from the old English word naught which means zero. However, visualising the size of an ‘aught’ is somewhat harder and makes very little sense. An aught is a very old-fashioned measurement that refers to the number of beads lined up side by side that will fit in a given area. An 8 aught (8/0) seed bead means that you will get 8 of those beads in the space. An 11 (11/0) aught bead means that eleven beads will fit in the same amount of space. Hence, the inverted logic - the smaller the number the bigger the bead, as it takes fewer beads to fill the space. Still puzzled? Well there is a very handy chart on how aughts relate to more modern measurements such as inches and millimetres on several websites. I've put my own version in this post to help visualise an aught. The numbers per mm or inch may vary slightly according to manufacturers but it's a general guide. So, next time you hear that the number in seed bead sizes refers to the number of beads in an an inch - you aught to reply that its the number of beads in an aught!

If you want some other handy tools for sizing beady things Snazzy Cat has some great free downloads.

Sources • •

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two UK competitions for beaders due in the next couple of weeks

Simply vintage
  • Due date: 31st October 2009
  • Beadazzle beads (UK)
  • Beading goods to the value of 20.00 (UK pounds)
  • More details:
Jewellery Making Kit competition
  • Due date: 7th November 2009
  • Absolutely Charming (UK)
  • More details:
  • Competition open to UK residents only.

Official Etsy Beadweaver's Video - now on Youtube

Christina (Good Quill Hunting) from the Etsy Beadweaver's Team (EBW) has made a wonderful promotional video of the work of the EBW team. Glenda is a member of the team and her bracelet - Blueberry Zinger (see left) is in the video. So, is lots of wonderful beadwork from the very talented group in the EBW team.

Here is the link to the video if you'd like to have a look:

Ten ways to have orange in our beading life: it may not rhyme but can it increase sales?

I’m working lots with orange beads at present. I’ve found it an energising colour to work with and I’ve listed two pieces of my orange beadwork on Etsy in the past week – Tangerine Fizz (the necklace in the photo) and Oranje diamonds (the bracelet in the photo).
However, for English speakers who create with words (poets and songwriters) orange may be more frustrating than energising. It’s an English word (along with Purple and Silver) that doesn’t rhyme with any other English words. Mind you two composers (Charles Fox and Normal Gimbel) were inspired by this fact to write a song called ‘Oranges, Poranges’ in the musical ‘H.R. Pufnstuf’. Here's the chorus:

Oranges poranges, who says,
oranges poranges, who says,
oranges poranges, who says?
there ain't no rhyme for oranges!

You can find this song being performed on Youtube: if you’d like a distraction from beading or other things in your life.

The song may not be the most inspiring song in the world but reputedly orange décor can inspire higher sales in cafeterias, so I wonder if the same works for beadwork on Etsy? I wonder if my orange beadwork will inspire higher Etsy sales for me?

Whether or not, orange inspires sales or not, it’s hard to imagine a world without orange and using the word orange to describe it. However, the English-speaking world did without the word orange until the English court of King Henry V111 in 1512. Prior to this time the English referred to the colour orange as yellow-red (geoluhread in Old English). The English word for the colour orange comes from the Sanskrit word for the fruit ‘orange’, which is naranga. In reflecting on our current English words for the orange colour spectrum it seems the world of fruit and vegetables is at the heart of many of the words we use. Here’s ten foods that I could think of that are also used in the English language as ‘colour’ words for variations on the colour orange.
1. Apricot
2. Mango
3. Peach
4. Tangerine
5. Carrot
6. Pumpkin
7. Saffron
8. Canteloupe
9. Cumquat
10. Sweet potato

I haven’t checked if you can create rhymes for each of these words, or whether or not they appear in songs about them but I do know that they provide me as a beader with a language to describe the energising colours of orange in my beadwork. Can you think of others?


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

50 ways to say 'Red' for beaders, Donavan and dead beetles

It’s a stunning spring morning here in southern Australia – the sun is shining and the air is full of the perfume of mid spring flowers. From my breakfast table I can see bright red tulips in flower around a small pond that was created this winter. We were delighted to find tadpoles in the pond at the weekend. The tulips show lots of beautiful variations of red as the petals open and their colours dance in the sunlight. How can I best describe the wonderful red tonal variations of those tulips? Scarlet? Burgundy? Pomegranate?. There is a bluish-red tone that I'm struggling to name. So, off to ‘Google’ for help. After discovering hundreds of ways to say ‘Red’ via Google I’ve created a list of my favourite 50. Now I have a wonderful set of words to inspire and describe 'red' in my beadwork.

My favourite new word for red is Alizarin – it’s apparently a vivid crimson red. It was produced from the madder root plant in the 1800s but it’s now synthetically recreated. Alizarin had some short-lived fame in the 1960s when Donovan mentioned it in his 1967 song "Wear Your Love Like Heaven"(Lyrics now correct thanks to Patrick!)

The words from the second chorus went like this:
Wear my love like heaven
Wear my love like heaven
Wear my love like heaven

Color sky havana lake
Color sky rose carthemene
Alizarin crimson

I love the ‘red' words ‘Crimson’ and ‘Carmine’ as well – they evoke such vivid rich reds that seem to capture the dominant reds in our tulips. However, it’s hard to reconcile such beautiful colours with dead insect bodies but I've learnt that crimson dye is created from the dried bodies of the kermes insect that live on the Mediterranean Kermes oak tree and carmine dye is created from the dried bodies of the female cochineal beetle which is a parasite on cactus plants.(See photo on the right of Prickly Pear plants with traps for collecting cochineal beetles).

The cochineal industry has had a rather murky history in Australia. Captain Phillip attempted to start it in the early days of the colony (1700s) by importing cochineal-infested prickly pear plants into Australia from Brazil in order to break the monopoly on cochineal dyes Spain and Portugal had at that time. Amongst other uses, the British used the cochineal to dye their colonial soldier's coats red. The cochineal insects quickly died in Australia but the Prickly Pear planted thrived and became a noxious weed covering over 100,o00 miles of southern Australia. You can still see remnants of the Prickly Pear where I live but it was officially brought under control in the 1920s. Tulips have also been imported into Australia but with less devastating impact - mind you I'm now drawn to research the history of their impact in Australia. So, whilst I enjoy the tulips they have a very small and special spot in the garden where they can be controlled. The remainder of our large garden is slowly being planted with indigenous plants whose reds are just as beautiful as those of the tulips and whose presence is much more important to the wildlife of the area. That wildlife includes the beautiful Australian rosella parrot whose red feathers inspired the beadwork that brought me my first sale on Etsy (see bracelet below) and it's red is still one of my favourite reds.

What is your favourite red? What’s missing from my list? I'd love to read about your reds.

50 favourite ways to say red
Dyes from the natural world
1. Alizarin
2. Carmine
3. Crimson

4. Amaranth
5. Burgundy
6. Sangria (color)

Food plants
7. Candy apple red
8. Cerise (or Cherry)
9. Persimmon
10. Raspberry
11. Strawberry
12. Pomegranate
13. Chilli
14. Paprika
15. Radish
16. Beetroot red

17. Rose
18. Rose madder
19. Fuchsia
20. Poppy red

21. Carnelian
23. Ruby
24. Garnet
25. Red jasper

Natural world
26. Lava
27. Flame
28. Rust
29. Terracotta
30. Blood
22. Coral

Built world
31. Fire engine red

Various other origins of ‘red’
32. Burnt sienna (an iron oxide pigment)
33. Cardinal (there is a red Finnish granite with this name)
34. Cinnabar (from the Greek "kinnabari" it is applied to red mercury)
35. Cochineal (from the beetle with the same name)
36. Falu red (Swedish name for deep brownish red paint)
37. Fulvous (brownish red found on the Whistling Duck)
38. Gules (means red in the world of Heraldry)
39. Magenta (a dye discovered shortly after the 1859 Battle of Magenta near Magenta, Italy)
40. Maroon (derived from French marron for "chestnut")
41. Persian red (deep reddish orange pigment from soils in the Persian Gulf)
42. Puce (French word that means "flea" as flea coloration is either dark reddish-brown or dark purplish-brown).
43. Rosella (vivid crimson red found in the Rosella parrots of Australia)
44. Rosso corsa (the red international motor racing colour of cars entered by teams from Italy.)
45. Rouge (Red in French)
46. Rufous (various and diverse origins but lots of birds with some brownish red feathers are given this name)
47. Scarlet (from the Persian säqirlāt)
48. Upsdell red (deep medium red created for Reverend G Upsdell, the first headmaster for the new site of King George V School in Hong Kong after World War II)
49. Venetian red (obtained from iron ore deposits in the Veneto region, Italy).
50. Vermilion (naturally occurring opaque orangish red pigment derived from the powdered mineral cinnabar).

  • Finlay, Victoria (2002) Colour, London, The Folio Society, 2009

Heavenly treasury for Moonpools brooch

It's always lovely to be featured in a Treasury by a fellow Etsian - here is a 'heavenly' treasury in which my Moonpools brooch (middle of the second row from the top) was featured last week.

Beading competitions update - October 2009

For beaders out there who like entering competitions here are a couple more competitions to consider entering:

8th Annual The Ugle Necklace Competition 2010

Deadline: March 15th,
More details:
International and US

Glasscraft and Bead Expo
Gallery of Excellence Juried Art competition (section on beadwork)
Deadline: April 8th, 2010
More details:

Based in USA

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Travelling with your beading – a packing list, do’s, don’ts and never say never

Over the past 10 years I have done lots of beading on long haul flights between Australia and the rest of the world. Post 9/11 I have had to change my beading packing list a little to ensure it meets airline and airport security requirements – I still can cut thread but have a ‘daisy-wheel’ cutter that comes with me. I wrote myself a beading packing list after forgetting to take thread with me on a flight between Melbourne and London. This left me bereft of beading for the 21 hour plus flight and it made me determined to never do that again. So, here’s my packing list:
  • Needles - lots of spares (at least 10) that go in a very light wooden needle case.
  • Thread – to match whatever I am beading but only the small spools to keep the pack light.
  • Clover thread cutter and a spare (see photo). I put a cutter on a lanyard that I can hang around my neck during the flight. It saves fiddling around in the dark for the cutter. If you just Google 'Clover thread cutter' you'll find places to buy one if you don't own one already.
  • A small tray for putting the beads in and a plastic bag for locking it away. My favorite tray was given to me by a flight attendant some years ago.
  • My beads (more than I think I need) and always now placed in a plastic zip bag inside a second zip bag for security.
  • My beading case which contains all of the above. It is essential that it has a lid that can be snapped closed in the blink of an eye and that it can fit easily into the seat pocket.
  • A strong elastic band (and a spare) that can secure the beading case, just in case the closure breaks or lets you down.
  • A small magnet that can be used to pick up a needle if you drop it – it can help you to find a needle at a distance and in poor light.
  • A headlamp with small coin batteries (the one’s camper’s and caver’s use) for extra light. Booklights can work but they are harder to control and can fall into your beads.
  • Spare batteries for the headlamp.
  • Spare plastic zip bags.
Beading on flights not only passes the time but it often generates some interesting conversations. From flight attendants to Extreme Metal rock stars (see an earlier blog) I’ve found people curious to know about what I am doing, intrigued by what can be created using tiny glass seed beads and pensive (and sometimes apprehensive) about what might happen if I drop the beads. I have always confidently reassured them that I have sound strategies to avoid beads flying through the air or peppering the walkways. Through experience I have built a list of beading rules for flights that have served me well.
  • Do put beads in small light containers that can be kept in a second container for extra security. Beads in plastic bags have a habit of breaking open or splitting just at the wrong moment. So, I always put them in inside a second ‘security’ bag. The same for small light plastic containers.
  • Do only put a small number of beads on your working surface at any one time – then if you do drop them it’s not such a disaster.
  • Don’t ever bead during take off or landing, unless you are feeling adventurous.
  • Do have a quick way to cover your beadwork in case your neighbour suddenly has to dash to the toilet – I have my beads in a small case whose lid comes down at moment’s movement from the nearby passengers.
  • Do be alert to flight attendants about to serve meals and drinks – they can pounce a meal tray or packet of peanuts on your beadwork without even noticing that it’s there.
  • Do be turbulence vigilant and ready to secure your beads speedily and do believe the captain when they warn of turbulence. The captain is often right.
  • Don’t bother with peyote patterns – the light will never be good enough, there’s never enough room to spread them out and you’ll probably sit next to someone who will talk to you every time you try to follow the pattern.
  • Do take some additional lighting with you– the lighting always dims the moment you start beading and if there is a broken light on the flight it will be above your seat. I have had a broken light above my seat more than once on long haul flights between Australia and Europe. It's a long time to squint at beading.
  • Do remember your glasses if like me you can't even see the beads without them. Sometimes in an emergency you can buy a spare pair of 'travel glasses' from the airlines in-flight shop magazine but it's an expensive way to bead!
  • Do watch for small children who are bored and wandering around the aisles. Your beadwork is bound to be a beacon for them.
  • Do establish early in the flight if the person in front of you is a sudden seat lurcher - wait for take off and the moment when everyone puts their seat back to find that out. Then you can be prepared for them.
These strategies had served me well until a flight across the Tasman yesterday from Australia to New Zealand. I had confidently told cabin staff I had never dropped by beads only moments before I realised why people say ‘never say never’. You see it became clear that I had never dropped my beads before because I had never sat next to an eight-year old person before. She proved to be far more unpredictable than any turbulence I had experienced and much quicker than any cabin staff serving meals. So, I have a new rule to add to my list – Do avoid all beading when eight-year old people are sitting next to you!

Do you have any beading rules for travelling? What do you pack when you bead and travel? Would love to hear.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Victory blue, Lapis Lazuli, the beauty and the beast!

Blue is everywhere around me this week. Ruthie (from the Etsy Beadweaver’s Team) has featured blue work by the EBW team on her blog. Do drop by and have a look. There are some beautiful pieces. Just as Ruthie blogged on blue, I was busy organising my own blue beadwork feature called ‘Blue note’ for the local market that I sell my beadwork at. It drew lots of interest – see what you think of it. Blue is also everywhere around me because shops, cars and people are adorned with the blue and white colours of the local Australian Rules football team (Geelong – aka ‘The Cats’) who won the Grand Final here in Australia on Saturday. The victory blue of the ‘The Cats’ and my ‘Blue note’ display each echo the deep blue tones of the gemstone Lapis Lazuli. I recently bought several lovely large cabochons of lapis lazuli during a trip to Thailand and I’ve been looking forward to creating something wonderful with them. Maybe this will prompt some action.

The deep blue stone of lapis lazuli often includes specs of golden-colored pyrites that make it seem like the stone is sprinkled with gold dust. Whilst, pyrite is often referred to as ‘fool’s gold’, in the 1970s the finest grades of Afghan lapis lazuli with their ‘gold dust’ cost more than gold did on the world’s gemstone markets. Perhaps that should not be surprising given that this lovely deep blue gemstone has been precious enough to adorn the ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamen's burial mask, to be worn ground up as eye shadow by Cleopatra and to decorate palaces and other grand buildings around the world (e.g. the columns of St. Issac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg and the panelling in the Pushkin Palace (Russia)). Lapis Lazuli has also been used to create jewellery, pottery and to produce the ultramarine pigment in the vivid blues in Renaissance paintings and illuminated manuscripts.

A majority of the lapis lazuli used historically and sold now has begun its life as blue rock in the northeast mountains of Afghanistan where it has been mined since ancient Egyptian times. Afghanistan has some of the richest deposits of lapis lazuli in the world so it’s not surprising that it produces the highest-grade and most beautiful lapis lazuli in the world. However, little beauty surrounds the journey of this blue rock to the world’s gemstone markets. There is a recent and very powerful video-clip on U-tube (see link below) of just how appalling the conditions are for workers in the mines in the rugged northeast of Afghanistan. Mines are at 8000 feet above sea level and can only be accessed on foot or via horseback on very steep and unstable tracks. Miners work underground in totally unregulated conditions with no regular pay for their work. Often they are paid only if they find stone and then they are paid a fraction of what a stone is sold for in the gemstone markets. Amongst this, raids by armed bandits and smugglers are commonplace. Nearly 25% of the costs associated with uncut gemstones are for bribes to police and bandits to ensure the rock’s safe passage south to the lapis lazuli exchange in Kabul. Recently, the armed conflict associated with lapis lazuli mining in the northern provinces Pakistan and Afghanistan became more complex when the Taliban took control of lapis lazuli mines in the Swat Valley (north-west Pakistan bordering the north east of Afghanistan) and nearly 10 tonnes of high grade lapis lazuli recently disappeared mysteriously from the vaults of the old presidential palace in Kabul (Afghanistan) during a period of armed conflict in the capital. Lapis lazuli’s association with smuggling, armed conflict, danger and violence seem destined to continue despite efforts by new Afghanistan government to ensure only legally mined and traded rocks reach the world’s gemstone markets. In 2007 they established a gemstone exchange in Kabul where for the first time in over 50 years Afghanistan lapis lazuli was legally traded. That is a small victory for those in Afghanistan whose life is linked to the beautiful blue gemstone.

So, as I look at my beautiful blue gold-dusted cabochons I wonder how their journey began, were they legally traded and what bribes and dangers have been part of their life? Would I have bought them if I had known their history? It’s hard to reconcile the beauty of those gemstones with their potentially beastly history of exploitation and corruption. Those who see spiritual power in gemstones say that wearing it encourages self-awareness and brings qualities of honesty, compassion and morality to the wearer. It assists those who wear it to confront and speak one’s truth. Learning a little about the journey of lapis lazuli from mountain to me I have had to confront some new truths that suggest a beast behind its beauty. Those truths make me determined to use my cabachons with care and to try to find out more about how to make ethical gemstone purchases. I’d welcome thoughts from others on how to do this? How do we bring victories to those who risk so much to bring us the beautiful blue of lapis lazuli?

  • o
  • Utube - o

Friday, September 18, 2009

Beady Greenery Treasury, green healers and a touch of arsenic

Prompted by my ‘Yellow’ blog last week that briefly explored the different meanings of Yellow I’ve just started reading Victoria Finlay’s (2002) Colour: travels through the paintbox. London: Sceptre. (7th edition). I was prompted by this and by the happy coincidence of two Etsy beading events in my life this week to blog about ‘Green’. Ruthie, a member of the Etsy Bead Weaving ( team featured EBWer’s green creations on her blog and I found one of my Ziangles (see picture) in a an Etsy treasury – Beady Greenery (see photo) curated by Nemeton another EBWer. For me, there is a wonderfully calm and fresh feel to the treasury.

I’m not alone in associating green with a sense of calmness. Apparently, the rooms that people to relax in prior to a TV appearance (known as Green rooms) are green because of a longstanding belief in western society that green is a calming and refreshing colour. However, not so relaxing, is the idea that a green room may have killed Napoleon. In all likelihood he died of arsenic poisoning from the green paint used in his wallpaper. The paint known as Scheele’s green (after it’s creator) was made from arsenic and copper (see Finlay, p. 291). Wallpaper dyed with Scheele’s green became highly fashionable throughout Europe in the late 1700s and 1800s. It produced a vibrant green colour that was new and highly desirable. By the late 1800s wallpaper poisoning from Scheele’s green became recognised as a cause of illness and death.

Apparently, less deadly is the green of crystals. Wearing green crystals reputedly brings balance, a sense of freedom to do and bring a desire for growth in your life. If you use crystals in your life for health and healing there is quite a range of green crystals to choose from – here are just some of them:
- emerald
- malachite
- aventurine
- jade
- peridot
- moss agate
- dioptase
- bloodstone
- infinite stone
- chrysophase
- serpentine
- green calcite
- green tourmaline.

Alongside the life-affirming meanings of Green gemstones is it’s varying spiritual meanings. In Islam green is a sacred color. In the Qur'an, sura Al-Insan, believers in God in Paradise wear fine green silk and Muslims often wear a green turban or carry a green flag after a pilgrimage to their holy city of Mecca. This is why many flags of the nations of the Islamic world are green. Interestingly, the simple green flag Libya is the only national flag in the world that is a single color with no other markings. In Hinduism, green symbolically represents the fourth, heart chakra (Anahata). According to Wikipedia “Anahata chakra symbolizes the consciousness of love, empathy, selflessness and devotion. On the psychic level, this center of force inspires the human being to love, be compassionate, altruistic, devoted and to accept the things that happen in a divine way.”. So, green may be deadly, life-affirming, calming or holy. It depends not only on our cultural and religious context but also on our historical contexts. In many countries, laws protect us now from deadly wallpaper paints meaning that sitting in a ‘Green room’ can indeed be calming and refreshing.

Many ways of being green exist in nature that can offer wonderful inspirations for beaders who want a little green beadery in their life but as I use I am now wondering how are the dyes used in our beads made? How do bead-makers produce colours such as:
- Asparagus green
- Emerald
- Sea Green
- Feldgrau
- Fern green
- Forest green
- Jungle green
- Moss green
- Myrtle
- Pine green
- Sap green
- Shamrock green
- Tea green
- Teal

Off to find out more now… but would love to hear what Green means to you.

PS - There’s a good there’s a good review of Colour on Hughes’ News blog -

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

A yellow Etsy feature, 20 ways to be yellow and the yellow law

Thanks to Ruthie for her blog rainbow feature on Etsy Beadweavers. This week she’s featuring yellow and she has included a bracelet of mine in her feature called Yellow Tartin. You might like to pop by Ruthie's blog and look at the other lovely yellow beadweavings from the team.

I found her selection of yellows very cheering on what was a very grey early spring day in Southern Australia. They reminded me of the bobbing yellow daffodils and jonquils in our garden that tell me spring has sprung. In Australia, the golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha), which has a bright yellow flower is Australia's national flower. It is also a sign that spring has sprung in Southern Australia.

However, like most things in life, the meaning I give to yellow is not necessarily the meaning that others may give to it. What I think is cheery, someone else could find sad, angering or funny. Colours evoke memories, meanings and feelings. They are laden with personal and cultural meanings. In reflecting on Ruthie's blog feature, I wondered what yellow has meant in different parts of the world at different points in time. Little did I realise how many different and divergent meanings lay behind yellow.

Here’s just a little of what I found. For Leonardo da Vinci yellow represented earth, to the Hopi yellow is north and for the ancient Maya it was south. Here in Australia,yellow represents the sun in the Indigenous people’s flag. In some cultures yellow has been, and remains, a colour of renewal and growth and in other countries it is a sign of deceit. In England, early anti-semetic feeling led King Edward I (1200s) to decree that all Jews must wear a yellow star to identify themselves in public, in 10th-century France, doors were painted yellow to identify the homes of felons, traitors, and criminals and in Elizabethan England yellow denoted your status. More specifically, in Elizabethan England by law the duller, muddier yellows were worn by the lower classes and the brighter, more vibrant yellows by the upper classes. Similarly, during the reign of the first emperor of China (known as the Yellow Emperor) yellow was associated with personal status. Only members of the Chinese imperial court were allowed to use the color yellow in their buildings or clothing. It's likely that this was because the yellow dye in clothing of the time came from the labour-intensive process of producing bright yellow dye from stamens of the saffron crocus. Some of yellow’s controversial cultural history in clothing may be linked to the fact that it is apparently the most visible of colours at a distance - hence it’s use in many countries as a hazard or warning colour.

Yellow not only has many meanings but comes in many forms - I stumbled across 20 ways to be yellow - pale yellow, marigold yellow, banana yellow, golden yellow, lemon, canary yellow, champagne, chrome yellow, citrine, citron, flax yellow, lemon yellow, mustard, saffron, butter yellow, corn yellow, straw yellow, toffee yellow, tumeric ... and more.

Those of us who have use yellow in our bead-weaving will bring our own meanings to it – some may be steeped in history, some will be full of emotion but all will be steeped in culture. I wonder what the meanings behind the Etsy beadweaver’s yellows are and were? I wonder how many other ways to be yellow they know?


Monday, September 7, 2009

100 hearts, 100 delicas and 100 pounds of gold but... avoid ball point pens

Today I reached my 100th Etsy heart. 100th ‘event’s’ are often celebrated. For instance, The New York Times published a five-part series on US President Obama’s 100th day in office (29th April 2009), the famed jewellery design house of Cartier celebrated its 100th year this year by putting some of its most famous pieces on display (including Elizabeth Tayler’s LaPeregina Pearl – pictured left) and every 100th year a new century begins. Contemplating centenaries and other 100ths in life I was horrified to find out that approximately 100 people choke to death on ball point pends each year, perplexed to find that there is a pop song called 99 Bottles of Beer that paradoxically has 100 verses and amazed to learn that wolves are capable of covering 100 miles in a single day. As a beader, these facts are interesting but not immediately helpful to my next beading project. It might be more useful for me to remember that there are nearly 100 Size 11 Delica beads in 0.5 grams, Delica bead number 100 is a lovely transparent light amber and 100 Delica beads are approximately 5 inches wide. Tiny glass Delica seed beads from Japan are one of my favourite beads to weave with. Whilst, they are more expensive to buy than other types of seed beads, they are well worth it for the lovely finish they give. Mind you, when I say expensive, the cost of the bead is relative. The last Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma, reportedly gave the Spanish conquerer Hernán Cortés three jade beads each worth 100 pounds of gold. Puts Delica prices in perspective a little!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Luscious apricots, beading and a tale or two

Spring has sprung here in south eastern Australia with a mixture of sun, rain and wind. Amongst the wind and the rain our apricot tree (planted last Spring) has burst into blossom. So, how lovely and how fitting to wake up this morning to find one of my beadwork pieces - Apricot Zest hairstick - (the hairstick in the top row, right hand corner) in an Etsy treasury called Luscious Apricot. It's a beautiful treasury curated by Moonspritstudios ( If you get a chance do pop by and comment on it. It's always very affirming to be in a treasury curated by other Etsians. This is my lucky 7th such treasury. Anyway, with the lucky coincidence of apricots in my garden life and my Etsy life I started wondering about Apricots... and was surprised to find them, or at least their ground pits, at the heart of a controversy about living long lives and cancer.

It starts with the fact that the Hunza people (Kashmir, India) live rather long lives compared to the rest of us. They regularly make it to 90 years of age and some reach 120 years in age - what a lot of beading that would make possible in a life time. Apparently, the Hunza have a near zero cancer rate AND (here come the apricots) they sprinkle lots of ground apricot pits on salads. Apricot pits contain Amygdalin a substance thought to help fight cancer. But, they also contain cyanide, known for it's toxicity rather than it's curative powers. Apparently, clinical trials testing the apricot pit theory found according to Wikipedia that:

"None were cured or stabilized or had any improvement
of cancer-related symptoms. The median survival rate was about five
months. In survivors after seven months, tumor size had increased.
Several patients suffered from cyanide poisoning."

I found various sites promoting the cancer fighting benefits of apricot pits and many warning against them. One rather public promotor - a former arm wrestling world champion (Jason Vale) was imprisioned for his role in promoting them as a cancer cure in the USA. In talking about the court's verdict Commissioner McCLELLAN stated that "The FDA takes seriously its responsibility to protect patients from unproven products being peddled on the internet by modern day snake oil salesmen such as the defendant in this case. There is no scientific evidence that Laetrile offers anything but false hope to cance patients." (Quoted from a press release issued by the US. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York on July 22, 2003.) Much controversy followed the decision.

Who would have thought such a lucscious fruit capable of such controversy. When I beaded my hairstick it was the lovely zesty color of ripe apricots that inspired me, little did I know what lay at their heart. In other coincidence, the rose wood in the centre of my beaded hairstick comes from India where the tale first began! Neither did I know that there are over 50 varieties of apricots, that range from the size of marbles to that of baseballs. Their color ranges from white to dark purple.

For those of you who are beaders, you can see a very luscious photo of their wonderful colours by clicking on the natural cuisine link below. More inspiration for beading...

Thanks to Moonspirit studios for beginning my journey into the deep and dark world of apricot pits and finding purple and white amongst it.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kimberley Lizards and bead art inspirations

Australia is a place of extraordinary contrast naturally and culturally. In my ‘other’ life I have had the privilege to travel to one of the most dramatic and remote areas of Australia – the west Kimberley region of northern Western Australia. My work with Indigenous communities in the area has held profound meaning for me.

It's natural beauty is haunting and powerful. In part, this is because the West Kimberly has some of the oldest rocks in Australia as part of it’s landscape. In part, it is because of its enormous contrasts - two sides of the Kimberley are flanked by oceans (The Indian and Timor Sea), the other two are flanked by deserts (the Great Sandy Desert and the Tanami). The Kimberley is vast – around 3 times the size of the UK and moving around such a large and remote area is hugely challenging but enormously rewarding. It’s no wonder then that it has offered many sources of inspiration for my bead art. Kimberly Lizard (just posted for sale on my Etsy site) is the first in a bead art series I have designed based on Australian fauna and I have chosen to start with fauna of the West Kimberley.

That a lizard is linked in my mind with the Kimberley is no accident. Western Australia has over 60 species of small lizards (Geckos) and 18 of the worlds 30 species of monitor lizards (this includes the smallest and the third largest of the monitor lizards) and many of those are found in the Kimberley. During my many visits to the Kimberley, I have only glimpsed but a few of it’s many lizards – my bracelet honors those I have seen and the splendour of the world they live amongst and the Indigenous communities that own the countries of West Kimberley.
Sources Map

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The brooch in history and beyond - the top 30 ways to wear a brooch

I have just completed some gemstone brooches that I am planning to post in my Etsy shop. In honor of the brooches I decided to find out more about the brooch. I have discovered that the brooch, like many things in our lives, has a long history. For instance, it is thought that safety-pin type brooches were widely used to hold clothing together in the Bronze Age. Apparently, brooches were first mass-produced in Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries. Those early brooches often used elaborate designs that included beadwork. Whilst the brooches were decorative they were also hardworking and practical as they were still primarily used to fasten clothing, especially women's dresses. But, brooches were not just for women. In the ancient Greek and Roman empires women and men secured tunics, capes and other pieces of clothing with the modern day equivalent of a brooch (it was called a fibula). By the early 20th century, women in Europe were experimenting with different ways of wearing brooches. It became fashionable for a period to wear brooches at the waistline and later on the shoulders. Now, the brooch knows no fashion bounds. It is used to embellish clothing, wrists, handbags, hairbands and beyond. I've drawn on various bits of historical and contemporary advice on about wearing brooches(see references below) to compile the current top 30 ways to wear a brooch (or two or more) with flair.

How do you use brooches to add flair or fun, zing, zest or zizzle to your look?

Dress, top, blouse, T-shirts
1. Tradition says wear it on the upper left of your blouse, dress or top.
2. Break tradition and wear several at once.
3. Wear it at lowest point of your neckline on a low cut dress or top.
4. Wear a plain shirt buttoned to the neck and pin a brooch over the top button.
5. Pin some matching brooches on a blouse like decorative buttons - pin in lines, make triangles or whatever takes your fancy.
Cardigans and Jackets
6. Use a brooch to close a cardigan
7. Follow tradition and pin a brooch to your label, break tradition and pin more than one.
8. Cover a vest with lots of brooches for drama.
9. Wear just one on a vest to make a statement – formal, fun or casual.
10. Pin brooches on plain shoes to dress them up – match or not depending on your style.
11. If you wear slit skirts a brooch at the top of the slit will highlight your legs.
12. Pin brooches down the side of the leg of your pants. Apparently, it makes your legs look longer – but it is also fun.
13. Tie a scarf over your hips and pin the brooch on the knot of the scarf.
14. Wrap a scarf or a pashmina around your shoulders and pin the knot or the overlap with a brooch.
15. Use your scarf as a bandana and pin the brooch to the front or to the knot at the back.
16. Create a signature hat (any style) with a brooch – fun, dramatic or stylish.
Bags or purses
17. Pin a brooch on a tote bag for effect.
18. Use a brooch on the fastener or use it as one.
19. Pin the brooch on the handle of a handbag at the point it rests on your shoulder.
20. Pin a brooch on the front of a clutch purse to change its look.
21. Add a brooch to a chain strap – co-ordinate with your outfit.
22. Pin brooches onto a simple chain and draw the draw towards your neckline.
Key chains
23. Put a small length of patterned or plain ribbon knotted around a ring keychain and add a brooch to it. Use durable brooches that won’t snag.
24. Pin a brooch on the back of your gloves – just one, or both.
25. Pin the brooch over a leather (or fabric) buckle of a plain belt.
26. Pin a brooch to a cloth or chain belt for individual style.
27. Pin brooches on a headband. If it’s the colour of your hair they will pop out from your hair. 28. Pin a brooch on a plain fabric hairclip for effect.
29. Pin a brooch onto a leather thong tied around your hair.
30. Pin brooches on a simple chain, cloth or leather wristband.

Ways to wear a brooch
History of the brooch
NB - the brooches in this post are designed and beaded by Glenda - visit the Dax Designs Etsy shop for details.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Competitions ahoy - Finalist certificate arrived today from Fire Mountain Gems

My blogs today are all about competitions - probably competitions were on my mind because I recieved my Fire Mountain Gems 2009 Beading Contest Finalist certificate for my entry Cleopatra's Vial (pictured left). The certificate was beautifully presented and it came with a US10.00 Gift Certificate. It would have been wonderful to win but I was delighted to be a finalist given the wonderful company I was in. Off now to work on my entry for the Victorian Beadwork Society competition ...

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op