An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Monday, March 29, 2010

A positive turn to shades of grey - is it possible?

I am about to continue beading for a possible submission to this month's Etsy Beadweaver's challenge (see the work in progress). It is a very grey wet autumn morning here in Drysdale (South East Australia). The rain is very welcome after a dry summer but I have never loved grey – whether it’s in the sky or in a paint tin. I find it depressing. I think it was the shades of bluish-grey in my winter secondary school uniform that began my dislike of grey and my associations of it with things depressing. Grey winter skies meant the grey school uniform that meant grey school days of full of boring lessons that never seemed to end. I am not the only person in the world to find grey depressing. Star Trek: The Next Generation writers penned an episode in their second series called Shades of Grey in a sharp thorn growing on a vine plant on an alien planet pricks Commander William Riker and infects him with a deadly virus. The image of Riker in the very grey swamp reminds me how depressing grey can be. (Link below to the image of Commander Riker.)

A short aside – apparently, Shades of Gray is what is known as clip show. The majority of the episode is made up of clips from previous episodes. It was made when writers where on strike and to create an episode that didn’t need the writers the producers created a story in which Riker remembered past events.

Similarly, in Shades of Grey 1: The Road to High Saffron, the first novel in the Shades of Grey series by Jasper Fforde the colour grey goes to depressingly new depths. The novel is based 500 years into the future and is set in a society where a person’s ability to see colour is linked to their social status. Fforde calls the society a Colortocracy. In the Colortocracy, the Greys, who are people without the ability to see any natural colour, hold the lowest positioning the social order. Imagine only seeing grey in your world. How would that be?

Grey has also had a negative socio-political history. Martin Bormann, when he was executive secretary for Hitler was called the grey eminence because he controlled access to the Führer and gained great power from this, and in the USA, members of the neo-facist The National Renaissance Party which was active from 1949 to 1979 were known as the grey shirts. On a lighter political note the former British Prime Minister John Major's puppet on the UK TV show Spitting Image was entirely grey to mark how boring and non-descript Major was as PM.

Whatever began my negative relationship with grey, it has been an enduringly negative one. So, I as you might imagine I was rather surprised to find myself beading more parabola curves with shades of grey yesterday and positively enjoying it. Admittedly, the top layer of the parabola is a very sparkly grey and the faceted glass beads are a shimmering greeny-grey auroa borealis. I choose these shades of grey in an effort to capture the very subtle and beautiful colours of gossamer webs glinting in the sunlight as they gently move in an early spring breeze (see photo). I know it’s autumn in Australia but given the current Etsy Beadweaver’s monthly beading challenge is all about spring and a light spring breeze I am thinking spring.

So, it seems shades of grey that sparkle and shimmer could be a turning point in my relationship with grey. In honor of this moment I have been searching for some positive words that might help me rethink grey in my life – it’s been a struggle but see what you think. The first group are fairly common:

  • Charcoal
  • Slate
  • Dove gray
  • Powder grey
  • Oyster
  • Pearl
  • Platinum
  • Silver
  • Silvern

This next group of names for grey are new to me and hold possibilities for being positive towards grey and naming the colour dew sparkling on a gossamer web.

  • Taupe - dark grayish-brown (derived from the Latin name for the European Mole, Talpa europaea).
  • Xanadu - greenish-grey (derived from the colour of the leaves of the Australian Xanadu cultivar of Philodendron which was named after the ancient city of Xanadu, IMongolia, China). First recorded use in 2001 by an Australian paint company).
  • Isabelline - pale grey-yellow, pale fawn, pale cream-brown or parchment. First recorded use in English was in 1601 according to A Dictionary of Color (1930).
  • Griege –crystal grey and beige color slightly darker than the popular crystal silver shade, yet lighter than the black diamond crystal bead in the Swarovski range.

Love to hear what grey means in your life.

Now, to some final bits of trivia on the colour Grey which caught my attention. Apparently, the first recorded use of grey as a colour name in the English language was in AD 700, The Gray Lady is the nickname for The New York Times, in gay slang, a grey queen is a gay person who works for the financial services and ‘Greys’ is a term used by environmentalists (the greens) to describe people who use environmentally destructive technologies and use materials such as granite and concrete in city landscapes.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

A touch of Zebra on Etsy

Last week I curated my first treasury in a while that I titled "A touch of Zebra". Look at the great Zebra touches I found on Etsy - what fun. The Peach Zebra button brooch in the middle is one of my creations. Drop by my Etsy shop to see in more detail.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Parabolas and other curvy shapes for beaders

I love the curvy parabolic shapes that form my latest bracelet (see photo) – they seem pleasing and fascinating all at once.

I also love the word - parabola - what a wonderful word to roll around the tongue. It comes from the world of mathematics. Apparently, parabolas are sections of cones. As with many things mathematical parabolas appear in daily life in lots of places. For instance, when you shine a torch on a wall you see a parabolic curve of light appear, they occur in supporting arches and in their suspension ropes of bridges (e.g. the Golden Gate bridge in San Fransciso) and even in Smiley faces. (see photos).

The bounce of a ball creates parabolic shapes and there is even a poem that features the parabola - The Parabolic Balad by the Russian poet, Andrei Voznesensky. His poem begins:

‘My life, like a rocket, makes a parabola
flying in darkness, -- no rainbow for traveler’
(See for the complete poem).

Apparently, apart from winning the USSR State Prize for poetry Voznesenshy has a minor planet (3723) Voznesenskij, named after him.

Mathematics is full of wonderful language to describe a huge variety of curves in our daily life. A great way to expand your curvy language is to visit the online National Curve Bank: A Collection of Famous Plane Curves created in Mathematic by Gusavo Gordillo.

Here is a peak at just some of the delectable language of curves that I found in the National Curve Bank that could help you name your beaded curves or inspire you to create curves galore in your beading. Watch this space for more curvy delights in my own beading.

  1. Astroid
  2. Pear-shaped Quartic
  3. Bicorn
  4. Folium of Descartes
  5. Plateau Curves
  6. Cardiod
  7. Freeth's Nephroid
  8. Pursuit Curve
  9. Cartesian Oval
  10. Quadratrix of Hippias
  11. Catenary
  12. Hyperbola
  13. Rhodonea Curves
  14. Cayley's Sextic
  15. Hyperbolic Spiral
  16. Right Strophoid
  17. Cissoid of Diocles
  18. Hypotrochoid
  19. Sinusoidal Spirals
  20. Cochleoid
  21. Involute of a Circle
  22. Spiral of Archimedes
  23. Conchoid
  24. Kampyle of Eudoxus
  25. Spiric Sections
  26. Conchoid of de Sluze
  27. Kappa Curve
  28. Straight Line
  29. Cycloid
  30. Lamé Curves
  31. Talbot's Curve
  32. Devil's Curve
  33. Lemniscate of Bernoulli
  34. Tractrix
  35. Double Folium
  36. Limacon of Pascal
  37. Tricuspoid
  38. Dürer's Shell Curves
  39. Lissajous Curves
  40. Trident of Newton
  41. Eight Curve
  42. Lituus
  43. Trifolium
  44. Epicycloid
  45. Nephroid
  46. Tschirnhaus' Cubic



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Micro beads in action - inspirations for beaders

In my recent post on tiny size 18/0 seed beads (micro or grain of sand beads) I asked beaders who were using these tiny delights if they would like to share their creations here. I haven't yet heard from anyone who is using the tiny Size 18/0 in their beadwork but feast your eyes on some lovely pieces Etsy Beadweavers have created using Size 15/0 seeds beads.

If you are tempted to try for yourself a source that was recommended for tiny beads was

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Interview with Glenda on the Etsy Beadweaver's Blog

Great to be back home from hospital after my hip surgery and sat with some beads in front of me. Thanks to all who sent good wishes via various cyberspace means. It was a lovely surprise to find an interview with me featured on Etsy BeadWeavers blog. Pop by if you have a chance. It's a great site to see the work of lots of wonderful beadweavers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

When is being size 18, being tiny? The vintage micro bead and a visit to Prague

On my first day home from hospital I had a phone call from a local beader searching for tiny Size 18/0 seed beads. These tiny beads are amongst the smallest beads made and are often called micro or grain of sand beads. I do have some in my stash that date back to a visit I had to the Czech Republic in January 2006.
Four years on and as a result of that phone call I have listed some in my Destash shop.


Size 18/0 seed beads were primarily made in the late 1800s in Venice and are quite hard to source in current times. Imagine my delight in finding them in the Czech republic.
The Czech Republic has long been associated with the glass bead industry so you can imagine my delight in learning that I was to visit Central Prague (‘the old town’) as part of my 'daytime' job. The only downside was that the visit would be in mid-January when daytime temperatures rose to just above zero degrees most days. For a girl who loves the Australian summer it was quite a shock. On my arrival I quickly found Central Prague has dozens of jewellers selling items made of Czech crystal, Bohemian glass, as well as amber, garnets and other precious materials. However, when I visited in January 2006 Central Prague had only one serious bead shop (starBEADS - Braving the bitter winds and temperatures well below zero I set out to explore starBEADS' delights. It was a tiny shop in a tiny little arcade. It sold Czech glass beads and Swarovski crystal beads; various made-up necklaces (see photo) earrings, and bracelets; and some kits. As a sead bead weaver I found little to excite me sufficiently enough to make up for the freezing temperatures I had endured to get there. But, as in most things perservence pays, and not long afterwards I stumbled upon a small market stall where I bought the tiniest beads I had ever seen - Size 18/0 vintage Czech glass seed beads. At the same time the stall owner sold me some very fine beading needles and XXX Nymo beading thread to use with them. As I didn't speak the local language and the stall owner spoke only a little English it was hard to find out much about their origins. All I can say is that I bought them in Prague four years ago. Like the weather in Prague in that January, these beads are not for the fainthearted beader. However, it's great to learn that there are beader's out there keen to find a place for them in their creations. If you use Size 18/0 in your work I'd love to feature some examples in my next blog post, so please do let me know.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A blog award for Dax Designs

The Sunshine Blog Award is given out to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blog world. The rules for accepting the award are:

The Sunshine Blog Award

1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
2. Pass the award on to 12 bloggers.
3. Link to the nominees within your post.
4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

Dax Designs is honored to be listed among some of the very best blogs on the web. My first nominee for the Sunshine Award is:

Art Bead Scene -

I'd love some suggestions for other nominees - what blogs inspire you?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

7 Colors of the Rainbow - Yellow treasury

Thanks to LevyMarina from the Etsy Beadweavers Team for including my Magnolia Borealis earrings in her latest treasury of handpicked items on Etsy.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Talented spirals and a new Etsy listing

In celebration of my first spiral necklace on Etsy I am showcasing spirals and the talents of the beadweaving teams on Etsy. Pop by their shops and look at the wonderful spirals they have on offer, be inspired to make your own. Here's a taster of what is available. My last post on spiral stitches has a wonderful set of links to free tutorials for making these delightful beadart works.

Spirals and beaded spiral ropes: Double, Triple, Dutch, Russian, Cellini and more

Spirals are on my mind. I am in the midst of beading my second Cellini spiral necklace. The first remains unfinished because in typical fashion I have run out of one of the burgundy beads (see photo) I was using to create it. Despite that minor set back I have found it very satisfying beading the changing shapes and colours of the Cellini spiral. And, I’m beginning to see the pleasing shape of spirals all around me. Snails, shells, fern fronds, roses and willy willies (small spiralling winds a little like a mini hurricane) to name just a few. Mind you, there’s not much pleasure having snails or willy willies in the garden. Spirals are also found in the traditional art of several Indigenous Australian artists, in the spiritual dances of the Whirling Dervishes, in ancient European symbols of the goddess and in the psychiatry of Carl Jung for whom the spiral was a symbol of our soul. In Ancient Celtic lore the spiral was a symbol of holistic growth, release, union with cosmic energies such as time and the planets and of awareness of oneself as part of a greater whole. So, over time and in different places the spiral has been a powerful symbol of positive life forces and spirituality.

Given that I’ve decided to try creating some different types of spirals in my beadwork. There’s lots to choose from – spiral rope chain (see photo), spiral square stitch, double spiral rope and Russian spiral to name a few. I’ve sourced some free tutorials for each of these and listed them below for those of you new to spiral beading and it’s pleasures.

If you know of others I’d love to share them on the blog.

If you’d like to feast your eyes on stunning spirals in nature and beyond pop by this website – it’s inspirational

Spiral rope chain – great, free tutorial

Spiral square stitch

Double spiral rope chain

Triple spiral Beading

Dutch spiral

Dutch spiral variation – free tutorial

Cellini spiral

Russian spiral

African Helix


Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op