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.