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.


  1. Free-form brick stitch may be more what you want to try. Or fee-form stitching where you use the weave that suits the shape and arrangement you want to form. That's what I did when I made Huang (my Firebird bracelet). I think Gingko leaves would lend themselves greatly to free-form brick-stitch. Try also changing the drop number too. I do that for both Peyote and Brick for more variability.

    Anywa, I think you are definitely on the right track with your study.

  2. Thanks, I'll give your suggestions a try! I need to branch out a bit.


  3. Oooo, I love your organization tips, I need to hire you to do mine, lol. Nothing I've tried so far works and I love what you did with the cubes. I have a set of those and wiring to make a shelf is an excellent idea. Funny, I have lots of wire on hand to. Thanks so much.

  4. Love your Gingko leaf and your work space. I'm not much of a mathematician, so I can relate to your irregular increases. That always takes me lots of trial and error.

  5. I wonder if there's any money in organizing other people's bead stashes? Because that sounds oddly appealing.