Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fish Net Fashion

The Inspiration:

Fashion magazines and television programs are a great place to find inspiration for jewelry design. Not only are you likely to catch a glimpse of some great designer jewelry, but you'll get the scoop on what colors are up and coming in fashion, what kinds of textures are making it to the runway, and what sort of lengths are in style for necklaces and earrings.

Although I watch fashion programs intently, looking for inspiration, I rarely see anything on the runway that I would want to have in my closet. That is, until I recently saw a feature on the latest line from Rodarte. These interesting and fantastic designs were so unique, I immediately starting musing on how to capture their essence in beadwork.






Something slinky, netted and fierce will be the perfect match for an outfit like this one from Rodarte's Fall 2008 collection.



The Beads:



The galvanized oil-slick color of the purple mixture has a rock-and-roll quality that suits this high fashion inspiration. Paired with the softness of white ceylon, the beadwork will shine like a runway diva.


The Beadwork:

Chevron chain is the perfect technique to mimic the funky style of this Rodarte piece. I increased the number of beads in the stitches to get an extra wide band, and added a circular peyote loop to one end to make a fun and slinky beaded belt.



Update: Though this two-needle stitch is often referred to as chevron chain, it is not related to the netting technique.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lights and Tinsel

The Inspiration:

Now that December is almost here, it's time that all beaders turned to their gift projects and Christmas decorations. I try to make something for many of my friends and family, and most of my beading time is spent designing pieces that will make great gifts. I prefer to give jewelry that is wearable year-round, but sometimes it's nice to have a beautiful and festive Christmas accessory or two.

Last year I designed a multi-strand bracelet with leaf fringe and different sizes of beads in natural colors. The effect was nice, but I wanted to try something new this year. Since it's the holiday season, I decided to create a Christmas tree bracelet, complete with white and blue lights.


Christmas Lights, Tokyo, Japan

The Beads:

I wanted continuity with the beads, so I chose to use lined varieties for the foliage as well as the lights, rather than a combination of matte and clear. The palette for my bracelet includes: copper lined green, foil lined blue mix, foil lined clear, and foil lined brown mix. Black will also be used as the base for the 'lights'. Overall, I think that the feel of a crisp and classic Christmas tree can be seen.


The Beadwork:

Without any ado, here is the completed bracelet. It can be worn flat or twisted, and the ten strands of thick leaf fringe certainly evoke a feeling of pine needles and flashing lights. Because so many embellishments were added this time around, I've had to adjust the length from my previous design. The finished bracelet measures a tiny 6 1/2 inches, and is a nice snug fit. It would work just as well as a slinky 8 inch bangle as well, with the strands free to move about and sparkle.

The clasps are attached to small panels of even-count peyote stitch, which is the most complex part of the design. Although manipulating the strands of beads between clasps can be akward at times - especially when the thread is at it's maximum length - the bracelet is very easy to make. It's a great beginner friendly project that I would recommend for any new beader. And the results are beautiful, too!


Your Turn:

Complete instructions for this project are available on Variety Beading: Christmas Projects. Try out a new Christmas design, or create on of your own, and post your Christmas beading story on the Beading Challenge Forum.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dressed for a Cause

The Inspiration:

November 16-22 is Bullying Awareness Week, a time when communities, families and other groups can come together to discuss what kinds of actions they can take to help protect children and adults from abusive behavior from their peers. Although we live in a world where being original or different is more like the norm, there are still people who attempt to over power those around them with words and even violence. To help prevent these situations from happening, organizations can support the cause of Bullying Awareness, and educate teachers, employers and other leaders in all aspects of the bullying issue. From causes to solutions, the more we know, the safer and more supportive our environments can be.



Bullying Isn't Ok
Bullying Awareness from Allposters.com


The unofficial color for Bullying Awareness is pink. Groups that are spreading the word about this important cause wear pink, and share the story of a pair of bullies that were stopped in their tracks by some incredibly thoughtful and brave teens.

Like many people, pink isn't a big color in my wardrobe. But even though I don't own any pink shirts, doesn't mean that I can't show my support, too. With a great piece of pink jewelry, I can stand up against bullies everywhere, and help get people talking about this important issue.

The Beads:

This homemade mixture of beads consists of assorted pink acrylics, and a careful selection of seed beads. Most of the mix is made from different shades of pink and red, with a splash or two of white, blue, purple and magenta. The over all affect is a diverse group of beads that come together to make one big, pink collage.



The Beadwork:

This necklace was fun and easy to make. Although I don't own a bead spinner, I still love stringing random beads once in awhile. It takes the pressure off as a designer - I just let the beads tell the story on their own. I did make sure that the accent beads where more or less evenly spaced, counting out how many I would need per strand and trying to create a nice flow of shapes and sizes. I hope that beaders everywhere will pull out their best pink pieces to wear next week, and get their peers talking about what we can do to stop bullying!






Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Winter Blues and Purples

The Inspiration:

The tree outside is almost completely void of leaves, the sky is gray, and all of the heavy blankets have been brought out for winter. With summer now completely behind us, I have been trying to think warm thoughts.

My musings encouraged me to return to a project that has been half finished and long neglected for some time: a summery, watery dragonfly collar that doesn't deserve to be shelved any longer.

Purple Dragonfly
"Purple Dragonfly" from AllPosters.com


The Beads:

The shimmery purple seed beads were the original inspiration to create a dragonfly. They are perfect for a beautiful insect's wings. To create the scene, blue iris mix, brown silver-lined mix and green iris mix become a marshy wonderland. These 10o Czech glass beads are great for embroidery.



The Beadwork:

This embroidered collar is done in back stitch, with one side in spiral rope. Although the design seems over-sized, it isn't too overpowering when worn, and would make a nice dramatic statement with a black top. The toggle is made using peyote stitch, and the entire piece is stitched on simple felt. For the edges, beads were stitched on in rows of loops, rather than the traditional picot edging. This helps to increase the feel of flowing water and wavy grasses that the necklace represents.



Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Works of David K. Chatt

The Inspiration:

I found my latest inspiration while reading Bead & Button's special issue on Right Angle Weave. David Chatt - incredible bead artist - writes about his first encounter with RAW. He says he was determined to discover how a little orange beaded purse had been made, and eventually developed the single needle version of crossweave stitching that so many of us love today.

As I pictured what the little purse must have been like, I recalled that there were two little make-up bags in my beading cupboard, just waiting to be made into something more. I purchased them at a clearance sale years ago, with the intention of embroidering some beads to them, but never got around to it. I'm glad that I still have them to work with, for I have something much better in mind.

There would still be the question of what colors to use, but Mr. Chatt answered that for me as well. In his article, a stunning collection of beaded sculpture is pictured, called "Breakfast Set". I was quite taken with the entire scene, but most especially the beaded orange slices. That was all the inspiration I needed. Citrus will be my palette!



The Beads:

These delicous opaque seed beads will be the new colors for a bead jacketed handbag: lemon yellow, cherry red, banana yellow, bright orange.



The Beadwork:

Using a combination of basic and interlocking right angle weave, I was able to jacket the make-up bag with seed beads to create a charming little clutch bag. The simple design will be easy to embellish further - I'm thinking of daisy fringes and loops. This first attempt at 3D bead weaving was a great experience, and I'm very glad that I have one more bag to work with in a future project.


Your Turn:

Visit the gallery of David K. Chatt and get inspired by the amazing use of beads! Create a sculptural masterpiece or beaded fashion in bold colors, and post it to the Beading Challenge Forum!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Frog Conservation

The Inspiration:

Pollution and climate change are having a negative affect on many species in North America, and around the world. One of the most important issues is declining frog populations, which has a major impact on ecosystems as a whole.
The Vancouver Aquarium's "Frogs Forever" program highlights the issue of frog extinction, as part of a global initiative to save frogs launched by Amphibian Ark. To show support for frogs everywhere, this artist is creating something swamp-like.

Phantasmal Dart Frog

The Beads:

Exotic frogs are known for their bright and bold colors. This selection of beads will not only represent these fabulous creatures, but are suitable for a classy piece of jewelry at the same time. Included in the palette are opaque black, opaque yellow and green iris mix seed beads. With yellow used as a background color, the black and green beads will look fresh and bold. Something vine-like will have a rainforest appeal.

The Beadwork:
"Amphibian" is a clasp free spiral rope necklace - a continuous chain approximately 40 inches long. The pattern of green and black beads alternates throughout the rope, giving it a more natural appearance. When I first began beading, I wasn't entirely happy with the pattern. After a few inches, I thought I might regret the random look. But I would rather experiment and make something that at least I can wear, than rip out stitches and waste precious Fireline. So I kept at it, and eventually the design grew on me. It turned out much better than I expected, and I've decided to add it to my line of wrap-around necklaces, which I hope to launch early next year.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Iris Bead Mixture

The Inspiration:

Sometimes the beads themselves are all the inspiration one needs, and nothing beats a great seed bead mix. Whether purchased or created, the chaotic look of mixed beads has definate appeal. They can be paired with a single contrasting or complimenting color for a bold statement, but these beads need to stand alone.


The Beads:

This bead mixture is made from multi-colored transparent iris seed beads, from Canadian Importer JohnBead. White and beige stand out among reds, blues and yellows, with a dash of purple, brown and green for good measure.

The Beadwork:

Presenting "Confetti Rope". A simple peyote stitch tube becomes a bright, cheerful necklace with these multi-colored seed beads. The necklace measures 22 inches (56 cm), and features a lucite bead clasp. With 12 beads in the base row, the peyote tube has an outside circumference of 1-1/4 inches. It can also be wrapped three times and worn as a wrist bangle.


Your Turn:

Use or create your own bead mixture and let it stand out in a unique piece of beadwork. Share your pictures and ideas on the Beading Challenges Forum.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Print Dress

The Inspiration:
This large print dress was purchased at a summer clearance sale. The gorgeous colors and pattern deserve a custom necklace to compliment it. The dress has a v-neck and empire waist, so something long and slinky will be just right.


Dress from Bootlegger

The Beads:
This selection of Czech glass seed beads is a near match to some of the bolder colors in the print. Without being too over-bearing, they will be able to compliment the dress with elegance. The palette includes matte black, brown iris mix, and true gold.


The Beadwork:
This is "Brown Beauty" - a St. Petersburg chain necklace in a striped pattern, accented with gold beads. This clasp-free necklace measures 56 inches (142 cm), and can be wrapped twice for a variety of lengths and shapes. It makes a great accessory for the print dress, and may be the inspiration for more snake-like necklaces to come.






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