Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Beaded Lace & Fringe

I have been experimenting with some monochromatic loomwork lately...and to add some visual interest to the single color scheme, I have been playing around with various edgings and fringes.

The first photo is one I have shared before, but it is the one that started this experiment...however I only have two to share at the moment! I have others in progress though...

This one is loomed with Toho's 1.5mm cube beads. I have added some top stitching using size 11/0's, size 15/0's and Swarovski Bicones in Crystal Silver Night. This cuff has a simple 3 bead Picot for the top edge and a 3 bead Picot with netting for the bottom edge as well as fringe in size 15/0's with Crystals.

This second cuff is done in Miyuki Duracoat Silver Delicas, 11/0's and 15/0s, Swarovski Bicones in Crystal Silver Night and a few Toho 1.5mm cubes. The edging is done using Mikki Ferrugiaro's new Beaded Lace from her Lace Cufflette tutorial...I had to adapt it a little in order to work along the flat edge of the loomed cuff, but this Beaded Lace is extremely versatile!

I apologize for that little blurry spot in all my photos...I have been thinking it was caused by the reflection from the beads, but it is actually a little scratch on my lens...oops! So I am trying to get that fixed so my photos won't be blurry!

I am off to work on some of the projects I currently have in progress! And to get some good photos for the Beading Babes February project reveal this Sunday!

Happy Beading!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Swarovski Rivolis - Am I too picky?

Well, since my last post about Mikki Ferrugiaro and her awesome Tutorials, she has released her Urchin Wings Peacock Pendant...and I have been waiting for this one!

It's one of those classic pieces that's just so beautiful and feminine...and to me it's reminiscent of fancy ladies going to the opera, or flapper girls dancing in a speak's a beautiful piece that any girl would love to carry in her evening bag or wear as a pendant. And it doubles as a little compact mirror too, so it's pretty and it's useful...

The Tutorial includes two variations of the Peacock Pendant, one with the mirror back and one with the pin back as well as her original version of the Urchin Wings Bracelet that was featured in the December 2010 issue of Beadwork Magazine...basically, this is the unabridged version with more detail than the one in the Magazine.

I have been busy working on several projects using the Lace edging from Mikki's Lace Cufflette Tutorial...and I must say, it is proving to be as versatile and useful as I thought it would!

So far I have added a beaded lace edging to a plain Loomworked cuff and I am now working on the actual Herringbone cuff in the tutorial. It's pretty damn awesome...but I have been sidetracked by the Urchin Wings Peacock Pendant, so I will share more on the Beaded Lace next time!

I have started on two colorways of the mirror backed version of the pendant...but I didn't have quite enough Rivolis in the right sizes to finish it in any colorway so I am just working on the separate components for now.

In my stash I have the 18mm's in several colors, but not the ones I want for this project...and I have quite a few colors of  the 12mm's but I only have 4 of each and I need 5 for each pendant.

So I spent a few hours browsing my favorite online bead stores looking for Rivolis...this is something that should have taken 20 minutes, even with all the other beady distractions! But I can't seem to find 18mm Rivolis in any great colors...or in any colors that also come in the 12mm size other than the very basic colors.

While I love shopping for beads, this was a truly annoying experience! Am I just too picky?

Everyone has Crystal & Crystal AB...probably my least favorite Swarovski color! Several places have the other basics: Amethyst, Sapphire, Emerald, Rose, Peridot, Aquamarine etc....which are fine for the most part, but definitely not unique or outstanding by any means!

And quite a few of them start to look a little too fakey-fakey once you get to the larger 18mm sizes...almost like those giant plastic "gems" on those Troll dolls! Remember those? Haha!

Anyway, back to Swarovski: I like the Emerald, it's a nice, deep, dark green, so I plan on using these in one pendant. But I want some more exciting colors...and ones that I can get in 12mm as well as 18mm. Why can't I find Siam in 18mm? It's a basic color...and it's a deep, dark red...I have these in 12mm and 14mm, but can't find them in any other size!

And I only found 2 places that have the 18mm in Jet, and one of those sites is always out of stock! This is a very basic color and it should be available in every single shape and size offered by Swarovski!

But I would also love to see some more unique and exciting colors in the 18mm Crystal Red Magma, Tanzanite, Paparadscha, Jet Hematite!

And I would love to see all sizes of Rivolis in colors like Dark Indigo, Purple Velvet, Hyacinth, Antique Pink, Silver Night, Bronze Shade, Metallic Light Gold, and even some of the Opal colors like Fire Opal, Pacific Opal, Palace Green Opal, Cyclamen Opal, Caribbean Blue Opal...

I just want more exciting colors in a broader range of shapes and sizes...or at least to find the same colors in all sizes across the entire line of Rivolis...why do some colors only come in the smaller sizes? It seems that they just don't make them in that many colors, or the retailers just don't carry them for some crazy reason. Or maybe I am just too picky...

Then there is the other extreme...the Vintage colors and the specialty coatings that aren't necessarily applied by Swarovski. Some of these are pretty cool, and some are very expensive! But even if I am willing to pay the higher prices, I still can't find a good color in both 18mm and 12mm...very annoying!

Now I know the obvious solution is to just use two different color for the 18mm center stone and another for the 12mm stones that surround this center. And I will probably do this at some point. But for now, this is still a new project and I am already unsure of my color choices. So I don't need to throw another wrench into the mix and use two different colors for the main components!

Anyway, enough bitching about Swarovski...they are beautiful and I love them, I just want better variety and more unique colors offered across the entire line of their unique shapes and sizes!

In the end I did find a few that will work for now...I ordered a few 18mm Jet to go with the 12mm's in my stash and a few 12mm Emerald to go with the 18mm's in my stash!

And of course I ended up buying more than just the Rivolis I need...but that's part of the fun of beading!

I don't have any photos to share yet, but hopefully I will make enough progress today to warrant taking some WIP photos...and if that happens, I will add some pictures in here!

I know most people skip straight to the pictures and then if you've caught their attention with some sparkly beads, maybe they stay long enough to read the words. But regardless of who may or may not be reading the words, I still have the urge to write the words...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Spotlight Design: Beadwork Artist Mikki Ferrugiaro

There are some amazingly talented Beadwork Designers and Artists that truly inspire me with their awesome designs and their meticulous beadwork skills! So I have decided to write up a little series of 'Rave Reviews' or 'Spotlight on Design' featuring some of the Beadwork Artists that inspire me to learn and to create.

I am slowly building a collection of Books and Tutorials written and designed by some of my favorite Beadwork Artists. I really enjoy working up the projects from their tutorials and most of the time I find that I learn so much more from their instruction than how to make a specific necklace or bracelet.

I love being able to look inside the technical aspects of their design and see how each Artist interprets a certain beading stitch, or how they expand upon it to create their own designs using the same techniques that we all use.

This is how they teach us to see and understand the basic architecture and engineering of these bead stitching techniques...and it is how we learn to use these techniques to create our own designs. So I really do love working up projects from these Designer's Tutorials and Books.

I almost always look for designs that are offer the most versatility. I like to find those Designers that really teach you how to use a technique that you can adapt to your own design...I feel that I learn the most from these projects.

And Mikki Ferrugiaro is one of those Designers who really packs those Tutorials full of amazing information!

It just so happens that I won a $25 gift certificate from Mikki to use in her Artfire store! To celebrate her 300th Blog Follower at The Beaded Carpet she hosted a 'drawing' with everyone who commented on her blog or purchased something from her Artfire store. There was 1 Grand Prize winner who was given their choice of several amazing prizes, and 2 second prize winners of the gift certificates.

And I won a Gift Certificate! Yay!

I knew exactly what I wanted too...Mikki's newest tutorial, "Lace Cufflette". This is a piece that was inspired by a pair of Crocheted Lace Cuffs that Mikki designed, only this one is translated into beads...and it is simply stunning!

I have purchased several tutorials from Mikki, and she is so talented...and not only in her gorgeous designs and amazing color choices, but also in her ability to translate these intricate patterns and designs into words and diagrams that are so clear and easy for any beader to understand.

The thing that I really love about these tutorials though, is that she is creating techniques and components that are so versatile in their application. So far I have her Spinal Tap & Blue Danube Ropes, Industrial Chic Corrugations Cuff and the Lace Cufflette...and each of these tutorials are designed to teach the technique so that it can be used in many other designs.

One shining example of this versatility is her Urchin Wings component...this was published in Beadwork Magazine December 2010/January 2011 as the Gothic Butterfly Bracelet.

I wanted to post Mikki's beautiful photos of these pieces here, but I don't really know the proper etiquette for sharing someones here are links to her blog posts showing examples of what she has done with the components of this bracelet:

Peacock Mirror/Pendant

Gothic Butterfly Bracelet & Urchin Wings Choker

Are you not just completely in love with that Peacock Mirror Compact/Pendant?! I love it and I would happily carry that in a beautiful beaded evening bag made with her wonderfully structural Corrugated Peyote.

Now that evening bag was Mikki's idea too, but it's another example of how far you can go once you really learn the technique...she is not only teaching you how to make a cuff, but how to use this variation of Peyote Stitch to make pretty much anything if you are willing to learn.

So check out Mikki's blog, The Beaded Carpet and her Artfire store to see more of this creativity at work...and trust me, her Tutorials are so clear and well written that anyone could follow the instruction!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lazy Bloggers & Ravishing Rosettes

You know what really annoys me? When I follow a blog that I really love and then the blogger gets too busy or distracted or just plain lazy and doesn't update their blog!

So now I feel like an ass (and a hypocrite) for becoming that busy, distracted, and lazy blogger that hasn't updated my blog in weeks! Sorry to anyone out there who is actually reading this....

Initially I was waiting patiently to post my Reveal of the Beading Babes projects...but the deadline for the reveal has been pushed back a few weeks in order to allow enough time for everyone to participate.

Then I got busy trying to force myself to make earrings every day...and trying to finish up some beaded squares for the Bead it Forward: Beaded Quilts to raise money for Breast Cancer Research(deadline is March 1st)...and finishing up my trays full of I have neglected this diary. But I have been beading and that's the really important part right?

Back to the Beading Babes: the projects that we chose this month have provided the group with some challenges, which is kind of awesome if you think about it. And it has been really nice to see this group work together to figure things out and find the root of the problems!

I think one of the main issues that beaders face with these Projects is that when Beading Magazines publish Tutorials, they edit them down to 2 or 3 pages...and sometimes this edit can leave out some important information. Also each diagram tends to include an entire series of steps rather than a clear diagram for each individual step...which can make it harder for some people to follow, especially less experienced beaders.

A few little sentences in the "Artist's Tips" section would have solved most of the problems that our group stumbled upon in this challenge!

I also think it would be interesting and very helpful if the Magazine Editors would think about using regular beaders, like any of us, to test their edited version of the Tutorial before the Magazine goes to print.

A test group like this would help them catch those little things that beginning beaders may not always know...the little details that a Technical Editor may not even think twice about because they do this every day. These little extras that should be in the "Artists Tips" if they aren't in the actual step by step directions. That is a job I would happily volunteer for...not that it wouldn't be awesome to get paid for it too!

However, I think this is one of the great things about a beading group like choosing patterns that are published in magazines we become a sort of 'self appointed test group' of beaders with various levels of experience. Working on something like this as a group helps us to strengthen our own beading skills, challenges us to try something new and brings us together in friendship with other beaders from around the world!

I had a great time working on the projects this month and getting to know some of the members of the Beading Babes. I also really like my Ravishing Rosettes necklace, and while I thought it looked nice in the magazine, it is not one of the ones I would chosen for myself. So I would have missed out on this wonderful design if I had not joined the Beading Babes group!

I did however decide to rip out the Runway of Pearls bracelet...well, I ripped out my embellishment beads, not the RAW cuff's just not worth all that work ripping out RAW stitches to save a few grams of Triangle beads!

And while I didn't have any technical difficulties with the pattern, I just didn't like the end result all that much. I used the beads that the designer used, and I followed the pattern (except I added an extra inch to the RAW base knowing that it would shrink when embellished) and it turned out just like it should, but I just don't like it. It ends up as a fat little 'tube' of embellished RAW that makes for an awkward bracelet....

I am excited for the Reveal and of course for the announcement of the next project! I can't wait to see how everyone else's projects turned out and to see everyone's color choices too! So look for the Reveal on March 12th at Releases by Rufydoof.

And until then, Happy Beading!