An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New beading challenge competition - can you bead a purple pom pom?

New beading challenge competition - some great prizes - and all for a good cause - preventing violence against women and promoting women's rights. Are you up to beading a purple pom pom?

Details at

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Beyond geometry in design – inspiration and spirit in the irregular

There is something that often draws me often to the geometric in my beadwork. I have played with the possibilities of triangles, diamonds, polygons, hedrons and more. So, it is with some surprise that I am finding such pleasure in creating non-geometric cabochons at present.  As you can see, they have irregular contours and not a straight edge in sight.

My organic ‘Galactica’ cabs bring to my mind things beyond this galaxy but also bring me greater degrees of freedom in playing with glass at the torch. I can relax into ‘going with the flow’ more and ask ‘what if?’. 

My play with non-geometry has also taken me exploring how other designers play with contour and the irregular.

This is a great short film on how to do this in architecture that I’m keen to apply to bead embroidery design in my advance bead embroidery class coming up soon:

Then, imagine these architectural forms in jewellery. Not quite skilled enough at the torch to produce them as cabs… yet!

And, if you want to read about it try piece by Gantz this written in 1977 but with great challenges to us in our designs today  asking many questions. One I loved, ‘How can we prefer square, flat walled rooms to the beautiful shapes of caves or the arch of the sky?’ (p. 11).

I am also drawn to muse on what his comment about organic design in natural forms might mean to me as a designer:
It would also follow that there are no straight lines, planes, or perfect geometric figures. The concrete element does not allow the equal repetitions necessary for the production of these forms. These inequalities are not imperfections to be ironed out. They are not errors or accidents, rather they are substance (p. 12).

You can read more from Gantz here:

Whilst it may seem I have forgotten all about beadwork, feast your eyes on the jewellery design possibilities of the organic with these links:

Do your retreat from the irregular? Or, are you inspired by it? Does randomness make the spirit hum or sink? Are you ready to play with organic? What would you do with one of my cabs?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cabochons, heads, domes and nails – what takes your beading fancy?

It’s been a while but I have the blogging muse again and some determination to make some time for it. As some of you may know I’ve begun making my own lampwork glass cabochons fuelled by my recent enjoyment in returning to bead embroidery.
Seascape lampwork cabochon, Glenda Mac Naughton

Cabochon is such an arcane word that sharing my current creative explorations in making them with others has led to some puzzling conversations. One such conversation recently went a little like this:

Are you getting time to do some glasswork now the Festival of Glass is over?
Yes, it’s terrific and I’ve started playing with making my own cabochons?
Oh (accompanied by a puzzled expression) – are they a special type of bead?
Cosmos lampwork cabochon, Glenda Mac Naughton
No, they don’t have holes.
So, how do you string them?

It made me ponder where and how the word emerged and whether there are better ways to describe what I’m doing to those not familiar with it.

Seascapes lampwork cabochon, Glenda Mac Naughton
I did know that the word derived from French but that was the end of my knowledge. Google helped a little. I now know it derives from the Middle French word ‘caboche’ which could variously means nail (with a head), head, knob or small dome depending on which dictionary I consulted. 

Explaining I am making nail heads I think might lead to even more puzzling conversations but perhaps talking about domes of glass could work… though strictly speaking not all of my cabochon creations are domed. So,… more pondering to do? What do you think? Do you have your own language for the flat-back ‘things’  in the beadwork you create, buy or wear.  

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