Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer necklace

The results for the Fashion Colorworks contest have been posted and my necklace was chosen as second place winner! I am very happy with that result. I worked on this necklace during the winter months, and the bright colors were a welcome relief from the snow covered view outside my window. I made quite a few flowers in various shades of orchid and cayenne, and bought as many colors that might have been sand as I could find. 
The flowers I didn't use are all together in a bowl on my work table.

This is one of my favorite contests and I enjoyed using colors that I wouldn't normally pick. All of the entries are displayed on the My Lovely Beads website. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Battle of the Beadsmith

I kept a few guidelines in my mind as I worked on this piece- a comment from an interview with Kris Empting-Obenland about having stayed within her comfort zone when choosing colors to work in, Steven's sage words to "just make something pretty," and my own idea that the entries for this competition are all over the top in terms of the amount of work and the complexities of the designs. Originally I thought I should attempt to make something that had red carpet glamour. Unfortunately, that isn't my style. Having gathered lots of shiny baubles and gemstones I spent many directionless days wrapping cabs and playing with crystals with very little satisfaction. Finally I gave up and started using my favorite colors from the beads that I had picked out to correspond to the Pantone colors of the year. Since I have been on a flower trend, and there was a time limitation, I decided to eliminate the learning curve and make what I was comfortable with.
 I am drawn to using primarily seed beads without a fabric base in my work. I had a difficult time finding some of the colors I needed in Miyuki beads since both local bead stores closed in April, so I used some Toho beads I had in my stash. I was able to convince my daughter to pose for the photos, and she gave me her top model poses and faces, somewhat obscured by foliage and flowers.
The pictures of the designs are being posted on Facebook this week, and the work very impressive. I am excited to be included in this group of talented bead artists.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Spring rains have finally replaced the snow and the first greens are slowly appearing. My bead board is still covered in orchid, cayenne and sand. This month I have been exploring the colors available in Czech seed beads and I discovered the best opaque orchid yet, and decided that as for reds, the Czech colors are the most vibrant. There just is no replacing the qualities of glass mixed with gold by using dyes. Next to the Czech beads the Japanese reds look very weak. I also have been using the pearl cream and eggshell colors over the vanilla or ivory available in Japanese. The Preciosa beads also seem to have larger center holes than some of the Miyuki do which was a surprise. I have finished an entry for the My Lovely Beads contest in the first triad, now I am moving towards working in the blue, freesia, and hemlock color scheme. The flowers should be up soon, and that palette has good spring colors.
Only one month until the closing date for the Fire Mountain contest, and with the start of April I also get to begin my beading for The Battle of the Beadsmith.  I have been paired against Glenda MacNaughton from Australia. Her Etsy shop, Daxbeadartpatterns is filled with some beautiful designs, and I can't wait to see her Battle entry. I am not sure what I am making, but I have some ideas to try. It should be a busy month.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Snow and more snow and still more snow to come. One of the few good things about it is that the light is much brighter all around with so much snow on the ground. I have started buying cut flowers just because there is so little color anywhere outside. 
Between the weather and mercury retrograde it has been a long month during which I have made little progress. I did finish a necklace with hellebores and snowdrops that I am considering entering into the Bead and Button contest, but the $50 entry fee is a bit of a deterrent. Completing the project in a timely manner satisfies the challenge of my being able to enter, should I decide to.

 I have spent most of my bead time these past few weeks trying to figure out what beads work for the radiant orchid, sand and cayenne triad. My local bead store decided to go out of business (too much snow and ice) so I have been buying more beads than usual before they are gone. My latest choice for radiant orchid is the Miyuki duracoat semi frost s/l lilac 11-4426 and semi frost s/l lavender 11-4248 mixed with some Toho gilt lined lavender opal, all size 11. I have made sample flowers with every shade of pink to purple in French, Japanese and Czech beads I have been able to find and depending on the light any one of them could be a good match, but few match each other. My preferred size beads are the 15's, and I haven't had much luck finding a bright orchid in them. The s/l mulberry 1655 is close, but not very radiant. I don't know why I am so obsessed with this, but my choice for African violet last year was so different from what other people had I am determined to get it right. I made a set of color swatches by saving screen shots of the Pantone colors on my iPod, then I printed it out on high quality. The radiant orchid was the same as my swatch from Lowes, so I am hoping all the other colors translated as well it did. I have been matching them to beads as well, and they aren't the colors I would have thought. I just bought many more beads that might be sand, but I haven't made samples yet. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Snowdrop, the 2nd time around

This is my new and improved version of a snowdrop, made into a piece of wearable art.
I used a 6 3/4 inch stainless steel stick pin for the base form. Bending the pin was hard because I needed it to be a certain shape, determined by the beadwork. I discarded three attempts before I got it right. Another change from the original involved using size 11 rounds for the flower instead of delicas. This gave the flower a fuller look, and it held the shape better. I had many more greens to choose from, so I tried to match the colors of the leaves by using an iridescent matte green while keeping the other greens the same as the original. Overall, I was happy with the pin and may try other bulbs in the future.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fire Mountain Gems seed bead contest

Fire Mountain Gems has been one of my favorite places to buy beads since I discovered them in the early 1990's. I remember driving by the warehouse on trip out west and wishing they weren't mail order only. 
Last year, for the first time, I entered their seed bead contest. The piece I submitted was a sunflower necklace that featured a black nephrite cabochon as it's center. I had wrapped the cab with some iridescent purple 3-cut beads, but didn't have any ideas for it beyond that. My husband kept insisting that I had said I wanted to use it for the middle of a sunflower, but I had no recollection of that. Eventually, after so many suggestions, my brain began working toward that end. I started by making separate petals, then used twin beads to represent seeds while also connecting the petals to the center. The peyote stitch rope is made using Preciosa copper lined lime beads. Using the Miyuki triangle beads added texture to the leaves and support for the flower. I added the periwinkle flowers to include purple. Most of the pieces I made last spring employed the My Lovely Beads Pantone triad of African Violet, Tender Shoots and Lemon Zest, a limited but challenging decision. 
I was told once by a friend from Venezuela that planting sunflowers outside your front door will bring prosperity. For the last few years I have, and it may not of helped overmuch, but it hasn't hurt either. 
My sunflower necklace was chosen as a finalist in the contest this year, and with that as motivation, I have already begun next years entry. The winning pieces are all awesome, and can be viewed on the Fire Mountain Gems Seed Bead contest 2013 page.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Radiant orchid and seed bead colors

Pantone's color of the year is one of my favorite colors, but it isn't the easiest to find in beads. Finding the exact shade of pink/purple/fuchsia that is Radiant Orchid was made a lot easier by comparing the beads to a paint sample card from Lowe's. To Pantone's credit, the color is exactly the same as the color on the orchid flower that recently bloomed on a plant I bought last year. (Just Add Ice orchid- I followed the directions to give it three ice cubes a week and it is the first one I have ever had that bloomed again!)
I narrowed my bead choices to two types. The color difference between the Japanese beads and French beads is enormous, yet both seemed like they could be radiant orchid. Once I poured out the colors and placed the trays next to my swatch it was clear the Japanese beads were a better match. 
In direct sunlight the opalescence of the French beads seemed to catch the color, but it wasn't as obvious in artificial light.
In any light the Japanese beads were a lot closer in color. The size 15 beads shown here are all Miyuki, number 352 is Fuchsia lined aqua luster and the transparent bead is number 1620, Semi-frost transparent lavender. The silver lined bead is number F23.
I made some sample flowers out of the various beads, and the thread color made a big difference with the French beads. I used both rose and light purple Nymo thread and the resulting flowers were totally different.
The triad for the My Lovely Beads contest also includes cayenne red and sand, so now I need to find beads that match those colors as well. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Beading Inspirations

Cold, snowy winter days. Spring flowers.
That's the connection my mind has made this past week and I have been working on a few projects incorporating types of late winter flowers with various twig and berry type accents. I have a friend who makes flower arrangements all times of the year. In the summer it's easy, but I am always impressed by the way she can gather the components when everything is dormant. When I told her that, she said "there's always something." It is with this in mind that I have been able to find inspiration from the bleak landscape that has turned into a winter scene. 
My palette has been greens and white, with some blue, dark purple and gray mixed in. These colors are turning into snowdrops, ivy, glory of the snow, hellebore, and berries. To brighten things up I am using yellow to make aconites. 
I have pictures I took last spring to work from but they are not my only references. Beautiful Bulbous Plants, by John Weathers is A Project Gutenberg e-book with 33 full color plates by Mrs. Philip Hensley that I came across while searching for pictures of snowdrops. I have some old books with color plates of botanical drawings, but it was nice to find a modern one, complete with gardening information. I buy flower books with color plates I see in used book stores, and also cross stitch books with color diagrams (usually printed for sale in the United Kingdom.) I also like field guides and have many different flower ones. I don't think you can ever have too many books, and with another snow storm predicted for tomorrow I think I might be beading from pictures a lot.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Snowdrops are one of my favorite spring flowers. They are the first bulbs to bloom, sometimes in January while there is still snow on the ground. Seeing a patch of them flowering outside the front door always brightens my day. A while ago I made a beaded snowdrop flower, complete with plant and bulb, in the style of a botanical drawing. I wasn't very happy with the flower itself and I never did anything with it. Recently I was asked to make a pin out of it, and I decided to make the whole thing over. Originally I had used delica beads, but I wanted to see if the round beads looked better. I made some samples out of Japanese and French beads to see which was best for the petals. 

I decided to use both, one for the center and the other for the petals. they are different shades of white, and I am hoping to give the flower some dimension. Of course, I can never make just one flower, so now I am thinking I will make a necklace too, maybe with some ivy leaves and berries for accent. Time to order more beads! Really what I need to do is figure out how to attach the plant to a pin base, right now I am thinking a stick pin would work. The original was made around a piece of sterling wire and it turned black, so that's out. Oh well, I will just make more flowers until the beads and findings I ordered arrive and figure it out then.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2014 Beading Contests

I have made a list of bead contests and projects, ordered by deadline. The first section lists ways to help others with your bead work. The second list is contests, some of which are based in the U.K. I have outlined each contest and added a link to the website. Some deadlines are TBA. 

Charitable Beading-

The Water Challenge
  Goal- to collect paper beads made by students which will be used to create funding for
     clean, safe drinking water in Tanzania
  Deadline- spring 2014

Bead it Forward- Bead and Button magazine
  Goal- beaded patchwork quilts will be auctioned off at bead show to raise money to fight breast
  Deadline- March 30, 2014  Ocean, aquatic and beach themes
  Website- Bead Quilt Project

Circle of Hope- Fire Mountain Gems
  Goal- handmade beads are sold through their website to raise money for mammograms
  Deadline- ongoing
  Website- Circle of Hope

Contests, Competitions and Challenges-   

Bead Me Magazine challenge- Ashdown Broadcasting 
 Overview- chance to have work published in online magazine
  Deadline- St. Patricks Green- January 31,2014, more TBA
  Entry fee- no fee
  Categories- varied bi-monthly challenge 
  Submission requirements- photo
  Judging Criteria- how well piece suits chosen theme
  Judges- Bead Me editors/staff
  Award- project is published in online magazine

Glimpses of India- STITCH/Madeira Competition 2014
 Overview- To capture the look and feel of India in needlepoint 
  Deadline- February 21, 2014
  Entry fee- £15
  Categories- mainly free style machine embroidery and mainly hand
  Submission requirements- finished size no smaller than 8" x 8", no larger
     than 27" x 27", finished piece and photographs to be mailed to U.K. for
  Judging criteria- embroidered work may include beads, wire
  Award- £1500 worth of prizes, work exhibited at show in Birmingham U.K.

Bead Dreams- Bead and Button Magazine
 Overview- contest includes many kinds of beads and jewelry categories, open
     to professional and amateur beaders around world, original work only
  Deadline- March 25, 2014 
  Entry fee- $50 per submission, 2 entries allowed
  Categories- on entry forms available December 1st
  Submission requirements- work made between March 2013 and February
  Judging Criteria-
  Judges- editors of Bead and Button, Bead Style, and Art Jewelry magazines
  Website- Bead Dreams

This I Have Wrought- Words in Needlepoint- Piecework Magazine
 Overview- A quotation is to be used in a piece of needlepoint.
  Deadline- April 1, 2014
  Entry fee- photos free, finalists $10 
  Categories- Lacemaking/Tatting, Knitting, Crochet, Beading, Needlework
  Submission requirements- finished piece no larger than 8" x 8"°,  send
     photographs, finalists send actual work 
  Judging Criteria- originality and mastery of chosen technique
  Award- $250 to the first place winner in each category, will be featured in
     magazine and possibly exhibited in museum 
  Website- Piecework contest

Bead Star- Beadwork Magazine/Interweave Press
 Overview- Categories in different types of jewelry 
  Deadline- midnight May 23, 2014
  Entry fee- $20
  Categories- TBA
  Submission requirements- work is to have been made in the past year,
     finalists mail work for judging and display
  Judging Criteria- originality, technique, creativity 
  Award- TBA
  Website- Bead Star 

Seed Bead Contest- Fire Mountain Gems 
 Overview- contest open to all entries made with seed beads
  Deadline- April 30, 2014
  Entry fee- no fee, work must use at least 50% materials available from Fire
  Categories- Necklace, Bracelet, Home Decor and Doll, Wedding and Holiday,
      Fashion Accessory 
  Submission requirements- photograph, finalists send actual piece for judging
     and photographs
  Judging Criteria- technique, use of products, wearability, aesthetics, style
  Judges- Fire Mountain Gems
  Award- top prize $1000 Fire Mountain Gems gift certificate, piece will be
     used in magazine ads and catalogs internationally
  Website- seed bead contest

Fashion Colorworks 2014- My Lovely Beads
 Overview- open to all beaders around world, contestants must select from one of three color
     triads to create their entry
  Deadline- April 1- June 15, 2014
  Entry fee- no fee
  Categories- seed bead jewelry, finished jewelry, seed bead objects. 
  Submission requirements- up to nine entries, one from each category and triad, made after May
     2013, original work not already entered in other contests or in print, photographs to be
  Judging criteria- use of colors, composition and originality, use of technique, use of materials,
     overall impression
  Judges- Eva Maria Keiser, Marsha Wiest-Hines, Patrick Duggan, Anneta Valious, Patrizia Tager
  Award- each category has monetary awards from sponsors up to $250
  Website- Fashion Colorworks 2014

British Bead Awards- Bead Magazine
 Overview- Looks to highlight the direction of bead working
  Deadline- September 9, 2014
  Entry fee- £10, 
  Categories- Finished Jewellery, Beyond Beads
  Submission requirements- photographs, finalists mail entry for judging and
     display at show
  Judging criteria-
  Award- crystal trophy and goody bag from sponsor worth £250
  Website- British Bead Awards

Ugly Necklace Contest- Land of Odds
 Overview- To make the ugliest necklace possible using 75% beads
  Deadline- August 31, 2014
  Entry fee- no fee
  Categories- special points given for necklaces made with beads under one
     and a half inch
  Submission requirements- three photos, must also write a poem
  Judging criteria- hideousness, violations of good design principles, use of
     colors and materials, quality of poem
  Judges- Panel from The Center of Beadwork and Jewelry Arts
  Award- $992.93 Land of Odds shopping spree
  Website- Land of Odds

Haute Couture contest 2014- Good Quill Hunting
 Overview- Create a necklace based on one of the 24 fashion designs selected
  Deadline- November 2014, exact date TBA
  Entry fee- no fee
  Categories- choose from one of 24 fashion designs
  Submission requirements- one entry which is photographed and emailed
  Judging criteria- creativity, originality, verbal expression of design decisions,
       relationship of necklace to chosen inspiration,
  Judges- TBA
  Award- gift certificate from sponsors
  Website- Haute Couture Beading contest

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Preciosa Ornela Christmas Contest

The makers of Preciosa Ornela seed beads would like us to use their beads to create Christmas decorations. The design is to be made using twin or seed beads in white, crystal, gold and topaz. The contest is to promote the new Atlas beads, and a special prize will be awarded for an entry that uses them exclusively.  The entries are to be posted to the Preciosa Facebook page by December 1st. The three pictures with the most likes will be selected as winners and the designers will receive a selection of beads from Preciosa.
In the past I have covered glass balls with netting and made ornaments from fire polish beads, but I haven't made anything to hang on the tree from seed beads alone. Stars are the obvious choice and they are easy to make, but probably a lot of people are doing that. The golds are a more subtle winter palette, and with the AB opaque white they should look pretty. Now what to make? I have been working on beaded beads, so maybe I will try them in these colors.