Friday, October 29, 2010

Making Shapes, and Organizing, Again

So, I've been working on making shapes, but not just any shape. I love gingko trees, and the shapes of their leaves.  For the longest time, I've been wanting to bead a piece with gingko leaves.

I'm well aware of the award-winning Gingko Leaf necklace done by Diane Fitzgerald, but because I want to be able to sell my own pieces, I won't seek to copy her technique or buy the kit she sells to learn how she does it. I'm experimenting on my own, and learning things in the process. Pretty neat things.

Pictured are my two first test runs. I started each with a line of ladder stitch, then built off there in a brick stitch, only with 2 beads instead of 1 in each stitch.  I found out I'm very impatient with ladder stitch, I never make the string long enough to get the final leaf big enough after the curve starts to grow. I have to work on that.

I thought I wouldn't like brick stitch, since I like doing peyote so much and I haven't worked much in brick stitch before this. But brick works up so much more quickly than peyote it's amazing.  Maybe just this stitch, because I'm using more than one bead per stitch. I've never tried two-drop peyote, and I probably should.

Sorry for the blurriness of the closeup of the leaf, I'm still wrassling with the camera a bit. Depth of field, anyone?

I found out that if you skip threads every few stitches you can work just about any curve into your stitching that you want to with the brick stitch. It leaves triangular holes, though. Currently, I'm pretending my leaf got nibbled on by a triangular caterpillar. Yeah, that works. The lacy effect is nice, but my holes aren't very consistent as I just inserted a skipped stitch where I thought the curve needed it, rather than in a planned, patterned fashion.  Perhaps that will change as I practice it more.

After I finished the curved part, and had beaded to the center, something really cool happened. The far edges had curved far enough that the end beads were perpendicular to the center beads. So I couldn't do brick stitch all the way across and I wanted to build up the back side of the leaf. So, on the far edges of the leaf, I transitioned to peyote stitch. The ends of the brick stitch rows worked perfectly as a base for peyote. So I did peyote-brick-peyote in each row, making the brick stitch transition from one bead to two beads to build up the center. This part ended up a bit lumpy and off-center, but I'll get better at that. It was surprisingly easy just to find a spot to put that next bead where I wanted it. 

Then I finished with some ladder stitch for the stem. I think it needs to be more substantial, though. More on this as it develops. I actually have some ideas for the December Etsy Beadweaver's Street Team challenge using these leaf shapes.

On to organization. I have posted a few times before on details of most of my organizational plan for beads, seed beads, tools, etc, using storage items and software. Follow the link to see that group of posts, which also include links to sources for all the storage boxes, cases and drawers I use.

Now I've got nearly the final piece of the entire system I had in mind from the start in place. Note the new black wire cubes on and next to the desk! I found two sets of four cubes (this cube system is everywhere) at a true bargain at Bed, Bath & Beyond (I almost typed "Bead, Bath, etc, don't we wish?) for $19.95 for 4, plus I used a 20% off coupon for each set, so $16 each. 

They don't give you but two internal shelves with each set, but I didn't make all the cubes, so I had plenty of racks left which I just wired into place for the additional shelves. Strangely, I had plenty of wire on hand. ;)

I finally have a place to keep all my seed bead cases (my little flip-top square tubes fit inside) where they're not piled up so the one I want is always on the bottom! Those are on the left of the lamp. The project boxes have their own section to the right of the lamp, my magazines and books are all together, and now all four of the bead and tool drawer sets will fit under the desk when I'm not working. 

I feel now like I can put my hands on what I want all the time, like I have the ability to keep the desk from looking like a tornado hit every time I work.  The final piece will be storage containers for the larger strands of beads like coral and turquoise where I buy 1" or larger beads. But right now, with economics not so great, I'll stick with labeled zip-top bags for those.  One thing beaders have plenty of is zip-top bags. 

And I have a storage system and workspace that I'm proud to have in my living room. Now I just have to get the rear-view mirror set up so I can watch TV over my shoulder while I bead.  I'm always thinking.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy is Good

So, I've been working with the camera. It's amazing that settings that work for one piece of jewelry absolutely stink for another. I think it's the shiny-ness factor. The more sparkly something is, the harder it seems to photograph well.

But I do have pictures, and two new items to go up on Etsy. First, though, the item that I'm not going to sell. I made this from a pattern in Netted Beadwork, as previously noted. It was intended as an ornament cover, when that didn't work out, I repurposed it as an amulet bag. The ornament cover was going to be my entry in the Holiday Treasures challenge for the Etsy Beadweavers group, but come to find out, nothing made from a book is eligible. I knew this, but I'd forgotten. Usually, of course, I cannot follow a pattern to save my life, and this one is in fact different from the example in the book in color, shape, beads chosen to embellish it, and fringe style, but it's derivative enough that I won't list it. Some lucky person in my family may be getting a very odd tree ornament. Or a penis cozy. I don't want to know what they use it for!!

Now, for the Etsy items. The first is a necklace made entirely of peridot and amethyst, in a netted pattern. I got an inspirational flash when I found the strings of 3mm peridot rounds, and added the amethysts and larger faceted peridots for accent.

I've had this in mind for most of a month, and I'm pleased with how it came out.  It hangs well, and looks nice around the neck. I strung the main strand on beading wire, and then the rest on Fireline, because I wanted strength, but the wire didn't leave any space for netting, as the holes in the peridot beads are really small. But the whole item came out sturdy enough. It has a delicate, feminine appearance, and is very light to wear.

And finally, this is the Cellini spiral I started on my last trip to Mendocino. I thought it was a bracelet for awhile, but was having such a good time with it, I kept going! Working the reduction in size at each end was fun, coincidentally I had smaller sizes in each color I needed! Amazing. I guess it pays to work in favorite color families, as it meant I had the gold in size 6, 11, and 15, and the purples and opalescent ones in 11 and 15.

This is my first beaded clasp, too. I'd never done that before. It ended up looking very elegant, I think.  I used two amethyst beads for the ends of the clasp. It would have been a relatively low-cost (in materials) item, except that the opalescent seed beads in size 11 cost, for some unknown reason, nearly $28 for a 30 gram tube! But they are beautiful. They glisten purple, green, pink, yellow as the light moves. It makes the necklace gorgeous from close up, as well as far away.

I've yet to make my first Etsy sale. It would be nice if one of these items did it for me. I'd like to think of more of my things out there making people happy each time they're worn. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why the Occasional Cold is Not Such A Bad Idea

Really. Because when you have a cold, and then get over it, the experience makes you appreciate the state of "not having a cold" so much more.

It was an odd little virus. Coughing, sneezing, feeling blah, three days and out. Then a couple of days of kind of wondering what the hell? as I've never gotten over a cold so fast, and my head still felt a little...coldish. Like I could feel the outlines of my sinuses in my head, even though they didn't hurt, as such. Today all that sinus-blech decided to clear out. Oh joy. Oh well, as I said, when it's completely gone, I will, for a while, appreciate the hell out of feeling well.

I got the camera back, and since then, have been trying and trying to get a properly focused picture, without success. Well, one tiny success.  There you see it, the sole well-focused picture out of about 60. Don't ask me what settings I used. Couldn't tell you.

I'm going to retire to the couch with the darn owner's manual and figure this thing out before it kills me. I know this camera can take marvelous pictures!   I'm determined I'll be the one behind the shutter when it does!

The picture is of the fringe of the piece I'm working on, an amulet or charm bag woven in netting stitch, from a book called Netted Beadwork by Diane Fitzgerald.  Of course, when my dear husband saw the bag section, he looked at the size and shape and asked me, "Why are you making a penis-cozy?" 

After I finished laughing, I started to wonder if there might be a market in adorning private parts with beads.  Hmm.  If anyone wants to commission a cozy, I'll need measurements. And some elastic thread, because men always exaggerate.

More pictures of the piece, which I'm really pleased with, as the camera cooperates. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Grumpy, with a Side of Ah-Choo!

That's right. I have a cold. I suspect one of my colleagues at a meeting last Friday, with a virus, in the meeting room.  Clue for the Clueless.

Okay, so I'm rambling. My medical history prevents me from taking a lot of medications, so I'm doomed (doomed, I tell you!) to sniffling, sneezing, stuffy head etc. for a few days.  

I feel so generally yucky I haven't even been beading much. I did finish my Cellini spiral necklace, which looks wonderful, with a beaded clasp. My first beaded clasp.

The good news is the camera, out for repairs, should be back by Friday. And it should be relatively simple now to get pictures to come out how I want them to, rather than randomly exploding into pink smeary messes. So, I promise pics of the necklace then.  I'm very enthusiastic about the beaded clasp as well. Now, if I don't have the findings I can make my own!

I also got some Xmas ornaments and was working on a beaded cover before I was so cruelly felled by the virus. It's going to include some of my favorite hot chili pepper beads like these, in two sizes.  It's kind of fun to work on a new form of beading. I'm learning things about spherical forms as I go. 

Now, I suspect that though I've slept about 30 hours out of the last 36, it's time for another nap. Liquids and rest, isn't that the prescription? Nobody says anything about having to run to the bathroom after all those liquids,'s like novels where people leap out of bed and run into battle without ever having to pee. Or brush their teeth. Really? 

Now I'm just posting nonsense. Really, Lynn, get to bed!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I Feel Better Now


I feel better because all my bead stash from our trip (see previous post) is now entered in the software, and labeled and file into the storage drawers. My workspace is once again functional, if not as clean and tidy as I want it to be.

Only sorta better, because I ran out of larger storage boxes, which are no longer available from Harbor Freight. I never had the largest size I needed for really substantial strings of stones like turquoise and coral, and right at the moment, I can't hunt for substitutes because we're on an austerity drive due to lack of income. That's right, I've got to put my beads in plastic bags for now. Makes me a little bit crazy. Plastic bags don't stack, they don't arrange, and it's not as easy to sift through them to see what's in those drawers.

But the plastic bags are labeled, systematically. They're in the right color-category drawers.  Someday I'll have the cash to get storage boxes again. Maybe for the large beads I'll use small food-storage containers. That might be about the right size.

Another thing that's driving me antsy is the lack of a camera. I swear every two seconds I think, "I'll just take a picture of that and post it...oh crap." I've sent the camera off to Canon for a free repair of the CCD card, but it's going UPS Ground from California to Virginia, so it could take a bit. My posts are going to be photo-free and a bit boring until it's fixed.

I want to show you all the new Cellini spiral I'm doing.   It's lovely, with 6/0 gold beads as the spine and purple and iridescent green/purple beads in the spiral. I think I may make it long enough for a necklace.

I also ran across a book I got several months ago on netting techniques by Diane Fitzgerald, and then when I was storing away these 3mm peridot round beads I got to thinking....oh my. A netted necklace in peridot with some drop beads, perhaps citrine, would be lovely, wouldn't it?

Oh, and I want to get more listings up on Etsy. Right Now. Not going to happen until the camera comes home.

Inspiration comes to us as we do other things. Particularly when that other thing is handling beads. 

Back to work, so when the camera arrives I can spring into action.  Happy Sunday, all. Get beading!