Monday, February 1, 2016

Inspired Beader: Diana Coe

Beaded Donut Necklace by Beadwork and Coe

It’s truly wonderful what can happen when beads speak, and artists listen. Today my guest is Diana Coe of Beadwork & Coe. This UK-based artists creates a gorgeous variety of jewelry designs using beadwork and bead embroidery to showcase a wonderful palette of colors and pretty motifs.

Inspirational Beading: When did you first get started with beading?

Diana: I started beading in 2007 after my son was born. Just staying home was new for me and I had always been creative in some shape or form. So I went into the local craft supply shop to see what's out there.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite thing about jewelry making?

Diana: It's not just jewellery, but in general beads. Jewellery started it as that's what beads are usually connected to, but increasingly I try to venture into other areas too. It's important for me though that my pieces are "practical".

Inspirational Beading: Do you remember your first piece? Where is it today?

Diana: I've still got it. It is a necklace and bracelet set, made with brick stitch tubes in rainbow colours with matte golden metal beads strung in between.

Spiky Choker by Beadwork and Coe

Inspirational Beading: Where do you look for your greatest inspiration?

Diana: Honestly, I don't know. It just hits sometimes ... But one source of inspiration/direction for a new piece are definitely the monthly challenges of the Etsy Beadweavers, a group of bead artists with shops on Etsy were I am a member and leader. The themes for those challenges are always chosen by previous winners and can range from "Our Solar System" to "Game of Thrones" ­ it really makes the creativity work overtime.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite kind of design to make?

Diana: What can I say? The unusual ones I guess. I hate designs that use the same component over and over again, the repetition just drives me insane. In 2009 (I think) I started a bracelet made of Daisies, because it looked so cute. But after 4 or 5 I put it away and it's still not progressed any further.

Beaded Pendant by Beadwork and Coe

Inspirational Beading: What’s the most interesting or unique thing about your design process?

Diana: For my bigger pieces I usually start with a focal that "speaks" to me and then I go through my stash to find bits, bobs and beads that go with the overall feel I would like to achieve. Rarely do I make a drawing or anything, because I never stick to it anyway. Sometimes I lay out my larger components and take photos of different combinations as it's so easy these days, but that's it really. I just start stitching.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite color to work with?

Diana: All shades of metal, more silver than gold, are my first choice and then I quite like to add a splash of colour. In general I always go for interesting texture though.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have any favorite materials or beads?

Diana: I love all the small beads, particularly Delicas. They just work so well for my style.

Fossil Pendant by Beadwork and Coe

Inspirational Beading: What is the most exciting design in your shop right now? What makes it special?

Diana: You can't expect me to answer that and not be bias, please. I love all my babies! OK, let’s go with the winner of the Innovation Prize at an exhibition I was part of last year, it made me very proud.

Peyote Tube Earrings by Beadwork and Coe

Inspirational Beading: Do you have plans for any new designs in the coming year?

Diana: This will hopefully be the year when I conquer my fear of fish leather. It's so beautiful, but a bit intimidating ... I came up with a cuff design that uses it last year and I am still trying to get hold of some of my supplies.

Inspirational Beading: Who do you hope to inspire with your work?

Diana: I always hope to show that beadwork is not all fringe and flowers. They seem to be the first things people think of when I say what I do and that is such a shame. There are a few designers that work in a more contemporary style, but there is room for improvement. Minimalists, technical minds and mathematicians to the beads.

You can see more of Diana’s gorgeous designs in her Etsy shop, or on her website Beadwork & Coe.


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Copyright 2016 Inspirational Beading and Diana Coe

Sunday, January 31, 2016

How to Mix and Use Bead Soups

How to Mix Bead Soups

There’s something wonderfully enticing about a mixture of beads. The combination of colors and shapes all playing together before the beadwork has even begun can be so much more inspiring than a single seed bead color. Bead soups are an excellent source of creative juice, not to mention a great way to experiment with new colors, or use up leftover beads.

One of the best ways to create a gorgeous bead soup is to hand select colors and shapes that work well together, as well as with your favorite techniques. A lot of bead sellers create their own custom mixes and blends, so the work of building a palette is done for you. If you want to experiment with concocting your own bead soup recipes, leftover beads are a great way to play with colors.

Starting with a single color is a good way to play it safe and see what your beads can do. You can mix together similar hues and shades to get a wonderful monochrome palette of ready-to-use seed beads. It’s a good idea to keep track of how much you’re adding with each new color, especially if you already have a project in mind. This way you can get a good balance of shades and be sure you’ll have enough beads to complete your design. If you’re not sure how your mix will turn out, start with a few grams of each color and add a dash of this-and-that until you get the perfect blend.

Blue Seed Bead Soup
Mix together seed beads of different sizes for texture.

Blue is a great color for bead soups because you can combine almost any number of shades together and they’ll still look great. Turquoise, aqua, cobalt, indigo…they all play well together. When planning your soup, try placing the beads you want to use together before mixing, to see how different finishes will look. Sometimes transparent, lined, or matte looks great when mingled, but different finishes can dramatically affect how other colors look.

Green Seed Bead Soup
Shaped seed beads are great in soups.

This green mix is a great example of too many shades. The mint and lime beads would look wonderful paired with the emerald. When all three come together, they clash. One way to salvage this soup would be to add some yellow or blue. This would allow either the mint or lime to attach itself visually to the new color, leaving the other to pair off with emerald.

Red Bead Soup
Try adding accents of similar sizes and shapes to start.

You can add accent beads directly to your bead soups. This is a great way to build a palette for freeform peyote, multistrand pieces, or bead embroidery. Depending on your project, you may want to go for a small range of sizes (from 3 to 6 mm), or add a handful of chunkier pieces. This is another great way to use up odds and ends in your bead stash.

Sandy Bead Soup Bead Soup Herringbone Stitch
Bead soups look great with freeform stitches and motifs.

Blending similar hues together can work out really well. This mix combines neutrals and a variety of warm tones for a sandy look. Starting with a base of neutrals (white, black, grey or beige) and then adding a few highlights is a great way to experiment with mixing colors.

Ombre Bead Soup Palette Ombre Multistrand Design
Bead soups are great for multistrand and fringe projects.

You can also use multiple bead soups in a single design. To create an ombré effect, create two bead soups with colors that are close together on the color wheel, or use one all-neutral palette. Remove one third of each soup and mix those thirds together to create an additional blend. Alternate between the three soups to gradually change the look and color of your beadwork.

If you're not using a bead spinner or stringing multiple beads at once, it can be tricky to find a truly random groove. When working with mixes, I like to pour out a portion of soup onto my workspace, then pinch a few grams into a line that I can choose from. By moving steadily through this row of beads, I can be sure that I'm not favoring a color or creating a pattern instinctively.

Do you like to mix your beads together? What’s your favorite bead soup palette?


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Friday, January 29, 2016

Favorite Techniques: Soutache and Bead Embroidery

Orange Dangle Soutache Earrings by Ozdoby Ziemi

Whenever new beading or jewelry materials come on the scene, it’s always exciting to see where designers will take them. One of the most amazing developments in recent years is soutache and bead embroidery. Beaders who are working with this amazing technique create designs that look like pure magic. Marthe of Poland-based Ozdoby Ziemi creates a wide variety of jewelry styles – each one a riot of color and curves.

Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite beading or jewelry technique?

Marthe: My favorite and inspiring technique of creation is a soutache embroidery. It took me a lot of time to express myself the way I want and the soutache embroidery is for me the most important and interesting. I started thinking about design, jewelry, vintage things as a teenager. Finally, I went to college to become a forester, but I still kept dreaming about making pretty things - I sketched designs. Then, four years ago I realized that I should to live what I love and I decided right then that is what I was going to do - my new goal was to make pretty things every day.

Soutache embroidery - it is a very labor-intensive technique and it requires precision. However, it is very grateful. This technique is exceptional, because it combines not only a shape and a design, but as well as the colors. You know, when you create a new piece, you link the particular soutache cords and then, you compose them with unlimited variety of stones. In this process you can create something unusual and unique! Thanks to this technique, you can express your vision overall, both in the large forms like necklaces as well as very small as tiny ornaments. Regardless of the form and size, the jewelry, made in this technique, impresses and catches the looks.

Emerald Soutache Earrings by Ozdoby Ziemi Violet Soutache Pendant  by Ozdoby Ziemi

In my work I also use the elements of beading embroidery. I’m inspired by different things each season: nature, folk art, religious symbols, cults and subcultures, geometric figures, ancient art and nature, so every collection I make has its own style. I like to explore new areas within each collection. I respect and appreciate the Mother Nature’s color combinations and textures. I am also interested in traditional methods of jewelry creation, e.g. silver jewelry and I am looking for more information about jewelry silver technique.

Inspirational Beading: How did you first learn to do this technique?

Marthe: I am a self-taught. Almost 5 years ago, I found a jewelry made in this technique completely accidentally. At that time, there were very few people working in the soutache technique. Immediately, I was charmed and intrigued by this kind of jewelry. I decided to find out more about this technique. I found the information about this jewelry, and I decided to buy very basic materials to try to do something for myself. I had no problem with a needle because when I was a child I sewed clothes for my dolls. I watched every piece on the Internet and I learned how it was made. Practice makes perfect, so when I achieved a basic level I started to invent my own designs. With time, my technique and design were getting better, so I decided to looking for a better materials. When the first steps, I had no available tutorials, so I had to learn everything myself. Today, I think that it was good for me, because I had a possibility to express my own inner creativity.

Purple Soutache Brooch by Ozdoby Ziemi Red Soutache Earrings by Ozdoby Ziemi

Inspirational Beading: Of all the creations you've made with this technique, which one is your favorite?

Marthe: I have the several favorite pieces that I love. Each of them is different and brings other emotions. I spend most of my time brainstorming and doing rough concept sketches. I enjoy this process, as it allows me to free my mind and express myself fully. I use a sketchbook to draw out my ideas, then I gather my materials. But my favorite part of the creative process is watching how the finished pieces end up - they are always a bit different than I planned. That’s part of the fun, and it makes for a great surprise at the end.

I have got two the most favorite pieces that I created in a soutache technique. These are two exceptional necklaces. I like them the most, because in the creation of them, I put a lot of work, time and imagination. I sacrificed them many hours of hard work: sewing, matching stones and joining elements, but - in my opinion – it was worth of it. I'm proud of them. One of them is ivory-colored necklace - ideal for unconventional bride, the second is a kiwi-necklace (I awarded the second place in the competition), inspired by a kiwi fruit.

Ivory Soutache Necklace by Ozdoby Ziemi Kiwi Soutache Necklace by Ozdoby Ziemi

Inspirational Beading: Can you share any tips for getting started?

Marthe: For getting started:

1. Firstly, if you want to work in this technique, you must be very patient, because the first works are never perfect. You should buy good kinds of materials (high quality strings, threads and a needle - very thin and sharp). Our skills we acquired through exercise, so never give up when your work is not ideal. Never throw away the first works, because through them you can see your progress you made!

2. If you want to start create jewelry you must select stones and ornaments that are drilled. It will be easier for you to sew them to strings. After that, you can use cabochons in the next stages of learning.

3. We learn by observing others, so follow others works and artists. It is very helpful to understand and learn the techniques, but remember - never copy the work of others!

Inspirational Beading: If someone had to choose to learn only one technique, would you recommend this one?

Marthe: If you had only enough time and patient, I recommend this technique. Thanks to them you can play with shapes, colors, space (3D projects). Soutache technique is used not only to create a spectacular jewelry, but to make many useful things. You can decorate your clothes (dresses applications), make a beautiful lampshades, bookmarks or even - images.

You can also make something special for others! In Poland we have The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. One year ago, I and my friends, who love soutache technique, we created a beautiful breastplate and show bridle (pieces of riding equipment used on horses) to help sick children.

Purple Soutache Hair Comb by Ozdoby Ziemi Colorful Soutache Cuff by Ozdoby Ziemi

Inspirational Beading: What is your least favorite thing about working with this technique?

Marthe: Soutache jewelry is usually one-sided. To protect them you must finish them, where necessary with leather, felt, lace or alacantara (back) and also you must impregnate them with Professional Nano Fabric Protection which also protects from damp. Thanks to that, you will be able to enjoy their beauty for a long time after the purchase.

This stage of creation is the least liked by me, because the process is over and you only need to fine-tune all nicely and finishing off the pieces. However, when this step is completed, you can really enjoy the final effect of the jewelry you made.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite color or color combination to use it with?

Marthe: I do not have a favorite set of the colors, because I like to mix and match colors in different - sometimes surprising - combinations. It gives me joy and it is also an awesome fun. Very often, the source of inspiration for me is the shape, color and structure of stones, minerals or beads. I choose the strings in this way to best bring out the beauty or the color of the mineral. As you know, quite often I use turquoise color, I like to mix it with many other colors to create something unusual.

Green Soutache Earrings by Ozdoby Ziemi

Inspirational Beading: What is your all-time favorite material or bead to use in your work?

Marthe: I most like to use in my work natural minerals, the highest quality materials, precious stones, soutache, silver beautifully stained precious and semi-precious. I use also crystals and beads of glass, but I try to my jewelry was the most natural. It is associated with the message of my brand to create things closest nature, our environment. Hence the name of my brand - in direct translation 'Ozdoby Ziemi' (from Polish to English) means 'The Ornaments from the Earth'.

Inspirational Beading: Who do you hope to inspire with your designs?

Marthe: My collection of handmade jewelry is dedicated to the exceptional women, who appreciate the beauty and originality. My shop - Ozdoby Ziemi - offers mainly unique earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, rings in various styles, sizes and colors. If you're looking for exceptional ooak jewellery and you want to express yourself with jewelry you wear - you're in the right place!

You can see more of Marthe’s beautiful soutache work in her Etsy shop Ozdoby Ziemi. You can also follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for her latest inspirations and creations!


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Copyright 2016 Inspirational Beading and Ozdoby Ziemi

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Work in Progress: Neverending Collar

Just look at how neat and tidy my bead tray is right now! I’ve decided to put away the ever-growing culled bead RAW panel that I’ve been working on between projects until I’m back down to just one thing on the go. The herringbone necklace, which I still haven’t quite finished, is awaiting the final stage of beadwork and photos, so I’ve been able to set it aside as well and really get a fresh start on my workspace. Now I just need to find a new tray, as this one is really on its last legs.

Turquoise Collar in Progress

I’m still working on the new collar design, making a little bit of progress at a time. At this point I’m kind of regretting not including a pattern, as it’s getting to be a bit dull just adding blue beads over and over. I really wanted to get the perfect sequence of stitches down first before playing with colors. I’m looking forward to starting again with a much more exciting palette.

What are you working on right now?


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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Frog it or Wear it Update

One of my creative resolutions for this year was to finally try frogging some old designs and salvage the beads. I’ve never really bothered with this beading step before, since it always seems a shame to cut up Fireline when I could just wear the designs instead. After my most recent jewelry shop overhaul, I was left with a lot of pieces that actually seemed to be worth ripping up. I thought I would give it a go and see if the resulting salvage would be worth the time spent.

I went through the box in my bead cupboard labelled ‘Frogs’ and sorted them into piles – one to wear and one to deconstruct. There are quite a few pieces that are mostly seed beads – I think it would probably be cheaper just to purchase the same beads again than to go to all the trouble of ripping out those stitches. I added a few pieces to my jewelry collection, including a spiral rope pendant and a couple of fun bracelets. At first I wasn’t sure about the peyote tube and cat eye bracelet, but decided that I didn’t want the beads that badly, and it would be more fun to just wear it instead.

The pile of pieces to be frogged was a lot bigger. There were a few designs that I really liked, and I almost added them to the wear pile. The stick pearl necklace was definitely a tough one. But with this piece, I like the beads a lot more than I need another necklace, so I decided to rippit! I also decided to finally dismantle a necklace set that I made for an Egyptian Hallowe’en costume about 20 years ago. Most of the beads are acrylic, but there are some really great teal Czech glass beads in both pieces that I’ve had my eye on for a long time. I’ve always liked having the necklaces around as decoration, but since I was going to be frogging, I thought it was time to take back those glass beads.

I ended up with a pretty good haul of worthwhile accents. I’m particularly happy to have some black and white druks again. I’m not sure how or when I’ll use them, but it feels good to have them in my stash. I wasn’t quite brave – or patient – enough to take apart the beaded flowers from that piece, so I’ll be saving them to use in other designs – possibly a set of rings!

I also got some lovely bead soups out of the deal. When I was finished frogging, I mixed the seed beads with assorted leftovers from my stash and now I’ve got all kinds of new inspirations for later. I think there might be a few multistrand necklaces and herringbone cuffs in my future.

In all, I think this particular frogging session was worthwhile. I still can’t see myself sitting down to rip a single piece at a time, but I would definitely like to keep them saved up for an occasional destruction fest. It was rather therapeutic, and it gave me a break from the monster collar that I’m currently working on.

Do you find it difficult to dismantle unwanted or unfinished designs? What do you like to do with your mishaps?


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