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….


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