Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Back to Beads

Well, having got that Wells Farto rant out of my system, we can get back to beads. Whew!

When I got the June 2010 issue of Bead & Button magazine I was intrigued by the "Layered Ladders" article by Lisa Keith. 

I looked at the instructions for the project, and the finished bracelets and necklaces and thought to myself, "Myself, what if instead of laddering just a couple of beads, you make a ladder of bugle beads?" 

So I did.  These are a blue/plum raku finish bugle. I used the two-needle method of ladder stitch to minimize the number of passages through each bead. And I used a nice teal Nymo thread that cost a ton. $8 for a tiny spool, if I recall.  I thought at this point that the thread would show when finished. And it would have if I hadn't gone crazy with the design! Like many kitchen recipes, I use the original as a jumping off point, and don't follow it exactly.

I made the ladder a bit longer than 7 inches. Then I started following the instructions for the next layer. In this layer, you are supposed to string several beads from the top of one ladder row to the bottom of the next in line, passing through the ladder bead(s). So it zigzags. I did this with 5 small square beads in a nice teal all along each row on the first side. But in the center section of the bracelet, I substituted a small liquid silver bead I happened to have left over for the central three beads of each row.

When I got to the end, I really liked it. But the back was naked bugles and looked a bit odd. At this point too, the promised spiral had not happened at all. 

So I turned it over and started again. This time I used alternating rows of triangular pink/purple raku beads, and purple 3mm magatamas. As I worked, I noticed that the triangle beads nestled nicely with a flat side down and the point up. This made the magatamas lie very neatly in between. Nifty!  About halfway through, I also noticed that the spiral was appearing! Imagine that. Keeping the tension tight enough made that zigzag path of thread pull up enough to create the spiral. 

So I finished that side. Then I realized that, hey, the sides were now hanging out, with thread passing through each bugle multiple times. I couldn't have that!  So I got out some triangular 11 silver-lined crystal beads and did an up-down weave through each row of bugles, picking up a crystal bead each time. At the end, I realized this left spaces on each side, so I turned around and did the same weave on the alternate rows, which filled in the line of sparkly beads completely! I was really pleased by this time. 

I finished with an increasing/decreasing peyote button, but it came out sort of lumpy because triangle beads do not play well with decreasing peyote. I may replace it if I find the proper silver button. I think that would look marvelous, don't you? A loop of crystal beads to capture the button and I was done!

As it turns out, the very thin Nymo was a good idea, as in some places I ended up passing through the ladder bead about 6-10 times. I would probably use less costly stuff next time, though, as I figured out it probably took about 18 yards. and in the end, it doesn't show, if you do all the sides. That's a lot of back & forth!  The finished piece is surprisingly substantial, and I'm very pleased with my almost-original design sparked by the B&B article.  In fact, the finished piece looks a lot more weighty than the magazine article samples, as I thought those looked a little thin. A tiny petite person could wear those, not someone with a lot of....presence. That's what we'll call it, eh? 

Presence. Yeah. That's the ticket!

PS. The pictures were taken on a pink working mat, so that's why it looks so pink. The colors of the finished piece are very close to true.  Also the depth of field on that shot is not good, so only the back of the bracelet is in focus. 

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