An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Being and becoming a dotty beader: techniques to inspire

Dotty beads are very much on my mind at present. I am just beginning to learn how to make lampwork glass beads and I am currently practicing how to put dots on my beads. Here are some of my efforts to date. You’ll see from these efforts that there is more than one way to dot a bead and a little way to go in my dotty skill building.

Reflecting on my efforts to date it’s clear that there is more than one way to be dotty. You can dot in specific spots, cover a bead in dots, scatter them, fleck them or litter them. The dot might be a speck, a circle or a strange dab on the surface of the bead. They might be symmetrical or not. You can pair dots, line them up, angle them or squash them. So, as you can see a dot is not just a dot. There is a glorious range of dotty possibilities.

In my efforts to become a better dotty beader and explore those possibilities I’m gathering a dotty technique a day using my old friend Google. Today’s dotty technique comes from: Glass Beads: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Learning the Craft, By Louise Mehaffey, Kevin (PHT) Brett. Lousie show how dots can be flattened with a paddle to add a decorative effect or to increase their footprint. You can then also poke the dot to add a decorative effect (see page 60).

Decorative dotty possibilities are not new to beaders. They have been using dots to decorate glass beads across the centuries.. The Solarflare Creations website ( has a fascinating overview of the history of dotty decorations on beads that includes images of dotted Celtic beads from France and England (350 – 100 BC), Chinese Warring States beads (480-220BC) and Compound Eye Beads from the Mediterranean Basin (400-300 BC).

In current times, contemporary beader Deanna Griffin Dove has even devoted a book to dots.

 Dot, Dot, Dots! ISBN # 978-0-9789721-1-0

For a beginning beady dotter, such as myself, the possibilities seem overwhelmingly and gloriously endless. With only my imagination to limit what might happen my desire to be a dotty beader could be with me for a while.

If you have dotty beads in your life – wearing them, designing with them or making them I’d love to hear about the dots in your life.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A musical treasury, the Great Bead Tidy and musings on the music of beading

As always I was delighted to have one of my beadworks included in an Etsy Treasury this week. It was curated by Leva Krustina and you can view it at this link:

It included my Annotations beadweaving bracelet pattern:

Viewing the Treasury I mused on the place of music in beadwork. One Google search later I had uncovered a 2008 poll by Beading Daily that had found in a poll of 1000 beaders that 74% percent bead while listening to music! 27% bead to rock music, 24% to classical music and 17% bead to pop music. Poll participants said that they bead to music because it helps them to:

  • feel less lonely
  • pace their work
  • drown out their "inner critic"
  • create and be inspired

Some beaders also find music inspires their design work. My Annotations bracelet designs are a case in point. Here's the latest just listed:

Annotations 2 peyote graph pattern

For other beaders, beading is an expression of their own inner music. For instance, Ukrainian beader Alexandra Sydorenko writes ‘my song is embedded in beads’. In a twist on this relationship between beading and music, ome musicians are also inspired by beadwork. I found two recent albums featuring beadwork in their titles. The first was Bead Songs by Andy Wasserman (TransMedia Sound Music). The album is described as “acoustic instrumental collection of original compositions for the Native American flute, featuring solo and ensemble arrangements in both traditional and contemporary styles” and features a pair of traditional Native American beaded slippers on its cover (see image). The second was, Beading the Rook, by Fence Kitchen (Northeast Indie; 2006). It  is described as a combination of jazz, chamber music and modern dance score. Unfortunately, this album cover didn’t feature any wonderful beadwork. In my search I also stumbled across a famous Australian composer - Percy Grainger (1882 – 1961) who collected beadwork.

The other way for me in which beading and music come together is in the Great Bead Tidy. I have just finished one and bouncy music was present right the way through. In the Great Bead Tidy I furiously sort beads, put away stray beads from past projects and any newly arrived beads and in the process generally totally re-organise my bead storage area. In a very Great Bead Tidy I unpick UFOs that are clearly beyond revival and reorder samples and inspirations for future projects. Little can divert me from the Great Bead Tidy when the mood hits. It often advances with music booming that suits my frenzied tidying mood. In this weekend’s Great Bead Tidy the rockabilly of Carl Perkins kept me company through the deepest part of the tidy – that point at which the tidy is deeply untidy and it seems I will never surface from it! The deeper the untidy, the louder and more robust I seem to need the music to be. Paula Morgan calls this music her ‘wild-side’ music.

Love to hear if and how music and beading go together in your life - what is your 'wild-side' music? Thanks to Leva for inspiring some musings about their relationship in my own beading life. Annotations to all….


Monday, November 21, 2011

Sizing bangles for beadweavers: hints and how to from the world of bangles

I have just finished beading a new beaded herringbone bangle for myself (pattern in my Destash shop) that I was sure would fit me perfectly. Of course, it didn’t and not for the first time it's became a sample to sell rather than something I can wear.

Promising myself to learn how to more accurately size beaded bangles I turned to Google for help.
Most bangle sellers measure (size) their bangles using the internal diameter of the bangle.

There seem to be two tried and tested methods for measuring your hand so that you know what the internal diameter of your bangle should be.

  1. Make a fist and measure the length from the outside of the first knuckle to the point between the third and fourth knuckle. This measurement is the required internal diameter of your bangle.  (Purple fist in diagram 1)
  2. Number 1 method
  3.  Place your clenched hand on a flat surface. Measure between the highest points of your first and fourth knuckles. This measurement is the required internal diameter of your bangle. (Beige fist in diagram2 )
Number 2 method

To double check that you have the internal diameter of your bangle correct there are also a couple of methods you can use:

  1. Take a plastic lid (for example, from a yogurt container). Use a ruler to draw a line the diameter of your bangle measurement. Cut a round circle and put your hand through it to check you have the right size. 
  2. If you have a bangle that fits you well, just measure the internal diameter of the bangle and make the internal diameter of your bangle the same size. 

Different sellers size differently but here is a general guide: 60mm diameter - SMALL (Size 7) 64mm diameter- MEDIUM (Size 8) 67mm diameter - LARGE (Size 9)

Love to know what methods you’ve used and you have found easiest, least frustrating, most accurate.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sizing up some beading software for sizing beads

iBead software logo

If you have trouble sizing beads the latest beading App for iPhone might be for you. That is of course if you have an iPhone. iBead is a very neat little App that  provides you with visual guides to sizing beads and things bead related.

It has a bead size guide (see screen grab image - to the right) for sizing beads from 2mm to 16 mm in size, a calculator for counting the number of beads needed for a particular length string, a wire size guide that shows the size of various gauge wire (34 – 18) and their mm and inch details, rulers and a guide for seed bead sizes 6/0, 8/0/, 11/0 and 15/0 and a handy ruler that enables you to measure length and bead sizes.

I can imagine using it in various contexts but especially when I am ordering supplies, and trying to match the size of beads in a specific project. Its easy to place your bead on the iPhone screen and presto find the size of your bead. 

Wire gauge sizes I can never remember so I appreciate the inclusion of the wire gauge guide.

The bead calculator would be good for those doing bead crochet and stringing but for bead weavers it needs a few more features added to make it useful. Imagine being able to be able to choose a specific weaving stitch then calculate the number of beads in grams needed to weave a piece of a specific dimensions (e.g: length, width, row numbers and bead sizes). There are various bead weaving books that attempt to provide this information but imagine having it readily to hand. Mind you, for some, maybe it takes the fun of the guesswork out of beading.

The seed bead guide could also be enhanced to make to more useful. It doesn’t include cylinder seed beads, size 12/0 and size 18/0 beads that I sometimes use. I’d also love to be able to compare the sizes of the major manufacturer’s beads. Being able to compare size 11/0 beads from Japan, China and Czech for instance would be helpful. It would also be great to include the different shaped seed beads now available – triangles, tila beads, square beads and fringe beads to name just a few.

The manufacturers of iBead (Associated Systems Professionals) see this as its first version and say that they are planning to make many additions. What do you think would be helpful to you? What are the calculations you regularly do or need to do as you bead that you’d like to see automated? Consider passing them on to iBead ( and maybe you can help shape its next version.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rainbows, mnemonics and beading: an aid to memory, and ode to hope

The first email of the day brought me a feast of beadwork full of rainbows. It was in the form of an Art Fire Collection curated by a member of Art Fire Beadweavers Guild  curated by KraftyMax on My Rainbow Butterfly bracelet was featured (see photo).

Amongst the delight of exploring the rainbow beadwork of others came the reminder that I can never remember the colours of the rainbow, despite having been taught a mnemonic to do so.

A mnemonic is a device that aids memory. It is often a short poem of saying. It is a wonderful word with a heritage in Ancient Greek and is related to the goddess of the memory in Greek mythology called Menemosyne (remembrance). The mnemomic I was taught is the name of an apparently colourful fellow called, Roy G Biv. The letters in his name give us the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet 

However, for some reason I can never seem to remember his name. My partner who is from the UK learnt to remember the rainbow through remembering the phrase - Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain - Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet. For me, this never works either. I don’t seem to be able to remember the saying. So, I set to trying to find some alternatives that might work for. Two I found are great for travellers or those who enjoy a drink or two and could perhaps work for me:
  • Ryanair Offers You Great Breaks In Venice 
  • Ran Out Yesterday, Got Blotto In Vineyard

However, inspired by these and borrowing heavily from them I decided that a beading based mnemonic might just work better for me. Here’s what I came up with:
  • Ran Out Yesterday, Got Beads in Venice
  • Rondelles Offer You Great Beading in Violet

Not great poetry, but they might just help my memory a little.  If you can improve on them and/or have any handy beading mnemomics you use I’d love to hear them. After all rainbows are well worth having and remembering in our life. As Wikipedia tells us they have been a symbol of hope across many times and places:

Rainbow flags tend to be used as a sign of a new era, of hope, or of social change. Rainbow flags have been used in many places over the centuries: in the German Peasants' War in the 16th century, as a symbol of the Cooperative movement; as a symbol of peace, especially in Italy; to represent the Tawantin Suyu, or Inca territory, mainly in Peru and Bolivia;[35] by some Druze communities in the Middle east; by the Jewish Autonomous Oblast; to represent the International Order of Rainbow for Girls since the early 1920s; and as a symbol of gay pride and LGBT social movements since the 1970s. (

Here's to better rainbow memories and the hopes that rainbow flags can carry. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beadwork in the Antique Pattern library - fascinating and free pattern downloads

Sometimes, I stumble across surprising and delightful finds on the web. Last week was a case in point. I was doing some online research on beadwork in the 1850s for my local beaders group (Bead Society of Victoria, Geelong branch) and found the Antique Pattern Library. Thanks to the hard work of several volunteers you can download free antique craft patterns from the site.

Imagine my delight when I discovered a special area of the library dedicated to beadwork. It was with great anticipation that I downloaded each of the 14 titles in this section of the library. What I found was a wonderful treasure trove of beadwork patterns that look very different to those we use today. Patterns for bead crochet, knitting and beaded embroidery in wonderful detail - some with images, some just words and most, but not all, in black and white. The Priscilla beadwork book: A collection of new and old beadwork with patterns and lessons for working (1912, USA, Ed. Belle Robinson) was one of my favourites. I have included some images from it here as a taster. 

From the New Bead Book
I also totally delighted in the Emma Post Barbour's New Bead Book (1924, The National Trading Company, Chicago). It is full of wonderful colour plates of her finished items, clear patterns and instructions for a range of beadwork techniques.  See an extract from her preface (left ) I learnt that apparently at the time Natrac quality beads are 'the highest grade made" and much much more. (Of course, I am now off to find out what happened to Natrac!)

Sherwoods, 'Impression Powder and Perforated Patterns for printing all kinds of designs for braiding, embroidery and beading' is testament to the creativity of those who bought it. Only the sketchiest of pattern guidance is included.

You can loose yourself in patterns from the 1700s onwards from France, Germany, UK and USA to explore and learn from.

All of the patterns in the library are free to anyone to use for "educational, personal, artistic and other creative uses". (

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rachel the Rock Wallaby and the Endangered collection of beadwork

Dax Designs has made its first adoption of an animal from sales of items in the Endangered colleciton of beadwork and pattersn. It's an adoption package for Rachel the Rock Wallaby that the World Wildlife Fund offers to help support its work with the threatened Rock Wallaby species in Australia. To learn more click here:

Thanks to everyone who purchased patterns and beadwork that made this adoption possible.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Puzzling beads and Nelson Mandela

Just as I was hurrying through the airport in Johannesburg to board my plane to leave South Africa there in front of me stood Nelson Mandela. Not surprisingly, I forgot momentarily about the flight for home, searched out my camera and snapped away. There wasn't much time to admire this extraordinary piece of beadwork 'in situ' so it's great to have the photos. Nelson Mandela is an inspiring person  - he holds over 1000 awards and 115 honorary degrees for his efforts to make the world a better place - so it's not suprising that beaders are some of those inspired by him. If you'd like to see some of the other beadwork inspired by Mandela here are some links to just a few pieces:
Nelson Mandela has also had many places named after him, Nelson Mandela Bay being a good example and you'll see in a moment why I mention it in this blog. Exploring the links between Mandela and beadwork I stumbled across a free Nelson Mandela Bay jigsaw puzzle which features a woman beading. Beader or not, its fun to do.

Click to Mix and Solve

Monday, July 11, 2011

Xhosa beadwork: symbols of defiance and living cultures

Zulu, Ndebele, and Xhosa people’s of South Africa each create jewelry using beads but each has its own distinctive cultural meanings and forms. The Xhosa speaking people of the Eastern Cape (South Africa) are currently the second largest language group in South Africa and their beadwork survives today despite past attempts by some missionaries to stop it and shifting traditions within the Xhosa culture in current times. Traditionally, in Xhosa culture a person’s social status and identity could be read through their beadwork. Social meanings were created through the use of patterns and colour to mark a person’s age, gender, marital status, social role and social rank.

White in Xhosa beadwork is said to be associated with spiritual purity, red with royality, yellow fertility and green new life. Patterns combine colour with motifs such as diamonds, quadrangles, chevrons, circles and parallel lines to create meanings and messages. There are efforts to keep traditional Xhosa beadwork traditions alive in current times with younger Xhosa people contributing to this through using traditional beadwork in weddings and other rituals in (see Loewe, 2011). Thankfully, the colonial era when wearing beadwork was deemed ‘un-Christian’ has passed. Thankfully also past are times when some missionaries bartered with access to literacy to discourage the Xhosa from wearing their beadwork and some Xhosa traded with ivory to buy seed beads from British settlers.

Whilst Xhosa beadwork has a long history with beads made from the seed of the coral tree, shells, bone or ivory, claws and teeth, the use of glass seed beads in Xhosa beadwork is linked to the 1820s when seed beads were imported into South Africa by the British from Venice in large quantities as a desirable trade item. So desirable were the seed beads that one source records the Xhosa bringing 434 pounds of ivory to a trade fair in the hope of trading it for seed beads (Crabtree and Stallebrass, 2002) and one cow was equivalent to one pound of seed beads.

Whilst contemporary Xhosa beadwork is most often created using size 8/0 beads historically a wider range of seed bead sizes were used. Methods of Xhosa beadwork include a form of bead embroidery where beads are stitched onto animal skins and a form of netting used to create amazing open weave beaded collars. (See photo of beaded Xhosa collar - left and close up above right)

One of the most famous Xhosa beaded collars is that worn by the Xhosa speaking former South African president Nelson Mandela at his trial in the early 1960s. In a statement of defiance and pride for his royal Xhosa ancestry he wore traditional Xhosa dress suitable for his royal lineage that included a collar of Xhosa beads which you can see in the photo (right). His Xhosa clan name is Madiba and when in South Africa recently I was told that local people refer to Mandela as Madiba as a sign of respect and affection.

You can also link here to a more recent photo (1994) of Mandela in Xhosa beads ( There are many other notable Xhosa people but one of the best known musicians is Miram Makeeba who has recorded a well-known Xhosa wedding song called "Qongqongthwane", under the name "Click Song #1"

Loewe and Moon (2011) argue that whilst Xhosa beading is still alive those who do the beading earn very little (between Rand 1000 – Rand 3000 per month) (NB: There are approximately 7 Rand to 1 US or AUS dollar) and most of those earnings are from local people rather than tourists. The fact that beadwork has survived the effects of colonisation and their rarity due to sanctions during apartheid and that they acted as a point of defiance during apartheid is a mark of the great determination and courage of the Xhosa people in South Africa and of the power of beadwork to carry meaning in our lives.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New beginners beading classes in Geelong

If you'd like to learn some basic beadweaving stitches consider joining a small, friendly group of women learning to bead at the Vitality Cafe on Saturday mornings. You can download details here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Festival of Glass presentations from Wathaurong Glass

You may recall that I am part of the organising committee for the annual Drydale Festival of Glass. On 10 June, Mark Edwards, General Manager of Geelong-based Wathaurong Glass and Arts (part of the Wathaurong Co-op), presented personalised commemorative glass plaques to members of the organising committee of the 2011 Festival of Glass.

Thought you might enjoy seeing the photos of the committee and of me receiving the plaque.

My personalised commemorative plaque bore the message: 'Wathaurong Glass and Arts. Presented to Glenda Mac Naughton in appreciation of your commitment to delivering a successful Festival of Glass - 2011'.

The Wathaurong people are the traditional owners of the land on which I live and do my beadwork, so it is a thrill to receive this plaque. To honor this history and the genorisity of Wathaurong people in the present I have decided to add a statement of acknowledgement on my blog:

I proudly acknowledge the Wathaurong Tribe as the original custodians of the land on which I live and do my beadwork and share in the hope of the Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation (2000) for an Australia in which there is justice and equity for all.

“Our hope is for a united Australia that respects this land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage; provides justice and equity for all.”

(Australian Declaration Towards Reconciliation 2000)

The 2011 Festival of Glass was held on February 20 at the Potato Shed in Drysdale. It attracted over thirty glass-related artists, craftspeople and businesses and over six thousand visitors. The 2012 Festival of Glass is on February 19 2012. Learn more:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Procrastination and handy beady facts: they may not change the world but they can save time

I have a wonderful business card from a local beading business that has simple pictorial information about bead sizes and wire gauges on the back. I find myself checking it often when I need to order wire findings or specific sized beads. Looking at it again today got me thinking about what information it’s handy to have just at your fingertips rather than several searches through a book or Google away. For instance, at the weekend I taught a beginner’s herringbone rope class and to prepare the kits I needed to know how many grams of size 8/0 seed beads were needed to make a certain length of herringbone rope.

To find out was easy but a little time consuming – I beaded an 8cm piece of rope and weighed it. I am sure I have a book somewhere that might tell me but searching through my ever growing beading book library I know I would have been totally distracted by other things. So, I now know that 3 grams of size 8/0 seed beads make approximately 8 cm of a herringbone rope with four beads as its base. One fact does not a book make but I have decided to start a ‘handy beady facts’ file where I can safely store my new handy beady fact till I need it next. Alongside this handy beady fact are going some others that I’ve found on scraps of paper in a recent tidy in bead studio. They are the bits of paper I keep meaning to put away but never seem to do it and never seem to know where.

Talking of what I keep meaning to do … Years ago I had the idea of developing my own Bead Abacus – full of all the facts and figures that beaders need to calculate everything that needs calculating as a beader. Maybe now’s the time to dust off the idea, tackle the procrastination actually do it!!!! I’ll try out the “15 minute rule” to avoid procrastination - just set the clock and spend 15 minutes on it right now… instead of blogging!!!

Be back soon and love to hear what your handy bead facts are… or how you stop procrastination when it sets in…. my 15 minutes starts now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Signs and beading - a new collection in the making

Signs are an important way of communicating in many ancient and contemporary cultures and the process of making meaning from the signs of cultures other than our own can be puzzling, fascinating and inspiring all at once.

In my new pattern collection I am celebrating our human capacity to communicate through signs in and across cultures. My first pattern is based on the musical notation of a G Clef and it celebrates our capacity to communicate music to each other through one particular sign system that originated many hundreds of years ago in Europe (around the 10th Century) and is now commonly used in western musical forms to indicate the pitch of the written notes that follow it. As with all signs it will mean different things to different people - for non-musicians it's meaning will be much less specific than for musicians. I wonder what it means to you. For me as a designer and a beader the wonderful curl of the clef was fascinating to try to emulate, it was a beading challenge - The C and F Clefs are equally fun and challenging to do and the designs are on the way.... stay tuned!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A bead for auction: raising funds for Indigenous education

Kicking Goals for Indigenous Education

A dinner auction featuring bush tukka and raising funds for indigenous education is the inspiration for this beaded bead. The auction is taking place in Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia on 4th June 2011. Supported by the Uniting Church and the Queenscliff Reconciliation Mob, this event will raise funds for the Gavin Wanganeen Indigenous Scholarship fund as well as supporting the local Uniting Church in Queenscliff/Point Lonsdale.

I have donated a beaded bead necklace for the auction on the night - my first ever auction donation so will be fascinated to see what happens.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Meet Vida Goldstein, the Fab Femme collection and a new beaded bead

I have been working on The Fab Femme collection: designs to enchant, stories to enliven for some time now and looking forward to sharing them over the coming weeks. I have just listed a beaded bead in the collection - the Vida bead. (Link here for the pattern)

The fabulous women (Fab Femmes) of the Suffragette movement (1890s – 1910s) who have changed our lives inspired the Fab Femme collection. Each design in the collection honours a specific suffragette. Many of the suffragettes wore jewellery as a mark of feminine solidarity as they fought for women’s rights, especially their right to vote. This was so widely known and recognised that the UK London-based royal jewellers Mappin & Webb, issued a catalogue of Suffragette Jewellery for Christmas 1908.

The Vida beaded bead honours Australian suffragette Vida Goldstein (1869 – 1949). She was a tireless campaigner for women’s right to vote and for a wide range of progressive social welfare reforms. She gained an international reputation for this work. Here are some snippets from an online biography of her.

In 1890 Vida helped her mother collect signatures for the Woman Suffrage Petition and she was involved in the National Anti-Sweating League (a labour rights organisation), the Criminology Society and various other social welfare campaigns. In 1902 spoke at the International Woman Suffrage Conference in the USA, was elected secretary, gave pro woman’s suffrage evidence to USA Congress committee participated in the International Council of Women Conference. Australian women were granted the Federal vote in 1902 and in that year she became the first woman in the British Empire to be nominated and to stand for election to a national parliament. Whilst she lost this election it did not deter her and she actively campaigned to educate women on their parliamentary rights.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Foreign travel, beaded beads and broadening the memory: some brief reflections

I have just recently travelled to Europe and South East Asia and on those travels I was reminded of the widely used saying that travels broadens the mind. It has a long history and can be found in literature across diverse times and places including that for children. I found it today in a children’s book call The Painted Garden written in 1949 by UK author Noel Steatfield about a family who travels to Hollywood. In it you find the words, ‘ Foreign travel broadens the mind ‥. and a broadened mind helps all art’ (p. 3). The Painted Garden was first published in serial form in 1948, and as a book (subtitled The Story of a Holiday in Hollywood) in 1949.

In trying to pack away my bead purchases from the bead shops that I visited whilst I was away I found myself reflecting that (borrowing from Steatfield) foreign bead shop travels broaden a beader’s ‘stash’ and if a broadened stash indeed helps the art of all beadwork. For me, my new purchases have certainly inspired a rush of creativity and very little ‘putting away’ activity.

Yesterday surrounded by my new bead purchases I felt compelled to create some new beaded beads. Before long my foreign bead stash was being put to use creating these beaded beads out the of beads I bought at a small but well-organised bead shop in Dublin (Beads and Bling, 34 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2, that stocked some Miyuki Delica, size 11/0 and 15/0 beads in colours I had not seen before. Did those new colours help my art – well maybe, or then maybe not – but they certainly inspired a bout of creativity that has broadened the range of beaded beads I can make. Here’s just a taster (below) of what I made yesterday. I had fun making them. Now to remember how I made them so that I can make some patterns to share. I do hope foreign travel broadens the memory as well!

  • Read more:
Other bead shops in Dublin
  • Crown Jewels, 12 Castle Market Street
  • Yellow Brick Road, 8 Batchelors Walk

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Singapore sparkles for beaders

As a major airport hub between Europe and South East Asia nearly 1 million people a day stop over in Singapore on their way somewhere else. It is often described as a shopper’s paradise and many tourists and locals spend their time shopping in Orchard Road where department store after department store laden with every major fashion label in the world attempt to tempt buyers to purchase the particular high fashion labels they stock. Orchard Road is forever busy and with most shops open till 10.00 pm it certainly means you can shop till you drop for any branded fashions from around the globe that beckon you.

But, there are many other ‘Singapores’ to explore and as a beader a must do shopping adventure for me is a few hours spent at a shopping Plaza in Chinatown called the People’s Park Plaza. It is not a glitzy high-end fashion tourist shopping plaza but a delightful local plaza where few tourists go. It is stacked full of four floors of small shops that sell a wide array of everyday items such as furniture, make-up and shoes and services that range from optometrists, travel agents through to traditional Chinese pharmacies. It also has a lively food court in the basement so tempting aromas waft around you as you meander through each level. Its attraction for me as a beader is that on each level is at least one bead shop.

Each bead shop has it’s own personality and all of them are stacked to the brim with their particular specialities. Some have every finding you might imagine and more, others walls of crystals and yet others gemstones. There is a specialist plastic bead shop and one that has all of the above and more. Not only are the beads tempting but, so are the prices. It’s always hard to choose what to buy but on my visit this time the sparkle of crystals and faceted glass beads seemed to beckon. In at least three shops every size, shape, colour and finish that you could imagine was on display. With a little bit of jet lag and no particular project in mind, choosing was not a very rational process but here’s the sparkle that caught my eye.

I made my first project with just a few of the crystals I bought on the flight from Singapore to London and some Delicas from home that I had in my inflight beading stash. It kept me busy from Singapore until sleep time somewhere across the Middle East. Now I can’t wait to bead with more of my Singapore sparkles but that is for another day.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bead crochet apps for the iphone: it counts for you

Some people love bead crochet, some don't. I'm still undecided and love my single needle beadweaving too much to give it a real go. But, for those of you who are keen bead crocheters or just starting out there is a very simple little app for iphone that might just suit you. It's call Bead Crochet Lite and it's free.

An easy to use app it calculates how many beads you need to string for a specific length of necklace. Just put in the length (cm or inches), how many beads in each round of crochet and bingo it tells you how many to thread. It takes only seconds to download and even fewer to use. Love to hear if any of you who love crotheting have used it and if you think it's helpful.

Also love to hear of any new software that you think is a must for beaders.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Getting serious - insurance for beaders who sell their work or teach classes

It's hard to know what image I can use to bring some life to this week's blog post - insurance! So, I have decided just to use a cheery picture of my Rhombus beaded beads to counter the gloom of what follows.

Prompted by a recent blog post by an Etsy colleague I decided to check out what my home insurance covered now I am selling my beadwork and doing beading classes out and about. It is one of those things I have thought about before but never acted on. As always with insurance I faced the questions of what are the risks if I do nothing. Well, it seems my home insurance won't cover me for the beads that I use to make things to sell or the items I have as stock at home but more importantly when they are on exhibition there is no cover for them. Considering that is happening more and more for me, it got me wondering - to insure or not to insure. Then, the question of public liability insurance raised it's tricky head. If I have someone visit me to buy an item at home and they have an accident - my home insurance doesn't cover me as their visit if money changes hand. It also doesn't cover me if I am teaching (for money) at home or elsewhere. So, after much debate with myself and my bank balance I have decided to take out a small business insurance policy.

I'm curious to know what others do? Are you insured for what you do as a beader? What risks are you prepared to take? Have you found the perfect insurance for you? Love to hear your experiences and thoughts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Festival of Glass: A fantastic success

Photos often say more than words can so here are photos from our inaugural Festival of Glass on 20th Feb in Drysdale, Victoria, Australia. With well over 5000 people the place was buzzing, sales were great and more importantly people really enjoyed seeing the diversity and quality of work that is done with glass including that by wonderful beadweavers and beadmakers.

Hope you enjoy the images from my exhibit.

All photos courtesy Lyn Ingles, blue pen publishing. Our 2nd Festival of Glass, 19th Feb 2012. Pop the date in your diary now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Count down to the Festival of Glass 20th Feb 2011

I am in full preparation mode for the Festival of Glass where I'll be exhibiting some new designs (if I have time to finish them!!!!). I was on local radio at the weekend talking about the Festival and now as you can see from this screen grab of our local newspaper several of the local glass artists (including me) are in the local newspaper. It feels I am spending more time on promoting the Festival than beading for it but it has been terrific to link with other glass artists and contribute to the local community in this way.

The program is up on the Festival website and it is the final committee meeting tomorrow so the count down is on. Wish us luck for the 20th Feb, 2011 - The Pototal Shed, Drysdale, Victoria.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Your favourite Fireline cutting tools

Its time to sharpen the cutters I use for my Fireline thread. I am using it lots in my beadwork at the moment and with two pairs of blunt cutters on hand I’ve been wondering what others use to cut their Fireline (or Proline) thread for their beadwork. Searching the Internet for advice on this drew several suggestions that ranged from nail clippers through craft scissors, Fiskars sewing scissors, pliers to Rapala line clippers (a brand of specialist fishing line scissors). Several sites suggested cheap children’s craft scissors. I am trying some of cheaper craft scissors quite successfully at present but wonder how long they will last.

Love to hear what you use and why.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Beading Apps by iPhone – do you, would you, what would you wish for?

I recently lost my rather antiquated mobile phone and this week I took the plunge and decided to buy an iPhone. It’s temptations included its capacity to sync with my computer address book and calendar, take videos and photos and of course the thousands of Apps (little applications) that can be downloaded to it. This morning I found an App that tells me local tide times locally so I can plan my walk on the beach at low tide time. I always seem to arrive at high tide when walking on the sloping sand at the high tide line is so much harder. Bouyed by my first foray into Apps I decided to see if Apps makers have targeted us beaders in any way. I was surprised to find several Apps for beaders.

  • Beading by Deep Powder Software
  • Bead Animation Class (Roidus Co., Ltd)
  • Bead It! SD (Byron Lo)
  • Bead It! (HD) (Bryon Lo).

There are also a growing number of Apps targeting crafters more generally that could just tempt us beaders. Here’s just two I have stumbled upon to date:
  • Sketchbook – for sketching creative ideas on the go
  • Evernote – for storing PDFs and sites you find on line that have great patterns or inspiration.

Curiosity got the better of me and today I downloaded the Beading App by Deep Powder Software. Its lovely bright yellow icon belied the grey interface that meets you when you enter the App. It is simple to use - you can access information in a couple of ways. You can do a search, touch a letter of the alphabet or scroll through their extensive A-Z of beading and beading related terms then click on any you want to know more about. A new screen with more information pops up.

This new screen is a missed opportunity in my view – it would have been perfect to include pictures in full colour on it (and there is the space to do so)– as it is true that in most cases a picture says so much more than words do. For instance, if you want to remember or know what a French earwire looks like it is much more helpful to see it than to read about it. Similarly, with bead finishes or with gemstones seeing images would make it much easier for me to recognise them when I see them.

The Apps makers say that they are open to suggestions so I’ll be making some to them. If you have used this App and have any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

If you have used any good Apps for beaders I’d also love to know. I’ll review those crafty Apps that I try over the next couple of weeks so stay tuned, or should I say stay ‘apped’!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Odd count peyote turns: Which way do you do it?

Are you a beadweaver? Do you use peyote stitch? If you answered 'yes' to each of these questions you'll probably have a way to do odd-count peyote stitch. We need to use it anytime we are trying to centre a design or a join between two pieces of peyote beadwork. Sunburst Towers (see Photo) is one of the longest pieces of peyote I have woven that was based on odd-count peyote so it gave me plenty of practice at the turn. So, I know that I know how to do it - but have you ever tried to explain how you do this turn to others?

I have just taught my first beadweaving class at the Victorian Bead Society's annual Bead Retreat in Mt Eliza (Victoria, Australia). It was a lovely setting and I enjoyed my teaching until the moment that I realised most of the class participants had no experience of odd-count peyote stitch and to finish the project they would need to know how to do this variation on peyote stitch. I know of at least 3 ways to do the turn and each of them equally daunting to explain:
- using modified square stitch
- using a slip knot
- using a Figure 8 turn.

My favourite way to do the turn is using a modified form of the Figure 8 turn so I opted to try to explain that - all I can say is that my participants were very patient and to my surprise several of them actually learnt it. I think it was more good luck than good teaching so I have decided to write some clear instructions to take with me to my next class... one of those 'just in case' things to do. In thinking about how best to do this I wondered what most beaders find the best way to do this turn.

If you have a view, a good set of instructions you've found on the web or your own hints or tips I'd love to hear from you.

Here's a great animated site which I could have used as a helper with my participants:
Suzanne Cooper -

Update on the Festival of Glass

Stop Press: Website live now for the Festival of Glass, 2oth Feb, 2011, Drysdale, Victoria, Australia. Click here to visit. They will be hosting a glass jewelry competition so any beaders out there might like to consider entering.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Festival of Glass - celebrate all things glass

A reminder for your diaries if you like all things glass. The Festival of Glass 2011 is on 20th Feb 2011 in Drysdale, Victoria, Australia. Its shaping up to be an exciting event with bead glass artists, beadweavers, glass sculptures, mosaics, glass etchers and glass slumping for those who enjoy crafty glass work. You can bring you old glass along to the Old Glass Roadshow where you can ask glass specialists about your glass. Read poems and stories about glass and choose the best photo featuring glass. Food, music, workshops and more. Dax Designs Bead Art will be there with new designs along with other wonderful beaders and suppliers for beaders.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Highly commended for Sukathai Gold

What a lovely New Year's present - I have just recieved my Highly Commended Award certificate for my entry in the Victorian Bead Society's (BSV) 2010 Bead Challenge. I called it Sukathai Gold and as usual taking a good photo seems almost as much a challenge as the beadwork did. The BSV challenge entrants all began with the same beads but could add to those in designing their entry. Here's a taster of what I did with mine. It was a long necklace that featured three large focal beaded beads that I created using my own beaded bead design, the challenge beads and some lovely 24ct gold-plated Japanese Delica beads.

To see the other award winners pop by their website - great inspiration for beaders around the world and those who love beadwork.

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op