Sunday, April 29, 2012

Beading Babes Project 4 Reveal

This past week was intensely stressful for me but I have finally arrived in Michigan. My husband has been here for 4 months for work and to find housing for us, while I stayed in Virginia to finish my work and train my replacement.

Family and friends helped me pack up the house and load the truck, then my daughter and I made the 650 mile drive from Charlottesville to Ann Arbor.

I wanted to be on the road by 10am and of course we didn't actually leave Virginia until 3pm...but we finally arrived 12 hours later, with a little scenic detour through the very steep and curvy mountain roads of Pennsylvania. Once we arrived, we grabbed some pillows and blankets from the truck and passed out around 4:00 this morning.

We woke up around noon today and it took us about 8 hours to unload the truck and begin setting up our new home. It's going to take me a week or two to really get everything in order but at least I have the important things set up, like my beads, my bedroom and my Internet connection!

Now onto the latest Beading Babes project 4 reveal. I have my Trellis Necklace by Nancy Dale completed and photographed and I have one pair of the Russian Leaf earrings, and half of a second pair of earrings finished...however I do not have them photographed yet!

I didn't have time to work on the bracelet because of my work schedule and all the stress that comes with moving across the country!

I will edit this post later to include photos of the earrings, but for now I want to get photos of the Trellis Necklace up in time for the reveal...

I really enjoyed this project by Nancy Dale and I think it is extremely cool that designers are offering up their projects for the Beading Babes challenges! I love the end result, but I also really enjoyed the beading process. It is a time consuming project but it has enough variation to keep things interesting.

I made 6 rope segments that are 30 RAW units long as per the instructions. Then I made one segment that is 90 RAW units long and one that is 60 RAW units long. I used increments of 30 RAW units, as there are certain design factors and repeats that work within those parameters...and everything came together perfectly! 

I haven't measured the length but it is long enough to put on over your head and not require a clasp. I used about 30 grams of Dark Bronze size 11/0s for the base, and about 25 grams of Gold lined Green size 15/0s for the netting, plus the crystals and embellishment beads. I love the colors together and I really like the flexibility of the rope. I think I will give this one to my mom for Mother's Day this year!

I look forward to seeing everyone else's project reveal and hope to get photo's of my earrings up later tonight but it probably won't happen until tomorrow!

I am so happy to finally see this week come to a close but it is kind of bittersweet. I am excited to be in my new home and living with my husband again but I am definitely going to miss my daughter and the rest of my family. I am thrilled that she was able to come with me to see my new home and be there with me for the long drive...she has never been to Michigan before and she has to fly home tomorrow, but hopefully she will be able to return for a real visit later this year!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring Fling Blog Hop

So I am definitely a few days late with my reveal for Amy's Spring Fling Blog Hop Challenge...and I feel terrible about it! With my insane schedule this month I have really had to push myself to meet some deadlines!

But I had so much fun working with this awesome kit and I look forward to doing this again! The colors were definitely a challenge for me as I have never worked with Orange in any part of my life...I don't own anything orange (except for a few beads now) and that's why I chose the orange kit!

Photo courtesy of Amy at Amybeads

I just love the little bird focal bead in this kit and I wanted to frame that with some of the orange Delica I just started with a RAW bezel and then worked a few rounds of Peyote to tighten the bezel around the focal...then I just started adding some embellishments.

First I added a round of the 3mm Fire Polish beads to the RAW base, and then I worked a few rounds of Herringbone off of that round...eventually it started taking shape as a ruffled flowery border around the focal bead. So I kept going with the Herringbone shaping it into a 5 petal 'flower' embellished with the Peanut beads and then I just worked a simple beaded chain off of the focal.

I think I would like to change the chain on this at some point, but being so far behind schedule I needed it to be simple so I could have something completed this weekend!

I met Amy and the other ladies who participated in this blog hop challenge through the Beading Babes group and I have had so much fun beading with all these wonderful ladies from all over the world! I really do look forward to future beading challenges with them!

And coming soon...our Beading Babes Project 4 Reveal...check us out on our new Facebook page that Karyn worked so hard to put together for us!

Here are links to the other participants in the Spring Fling Blog Hop:

Kristen of My Bead Journey
MaryAnne of Zingala's Workshop
Amy of Amybeads

Friday, April 13, 2012

Beading Thread

A fairly common term for beading or 'stitching' with seed beads is "Bead Weaving"...and this terminology tends to be narrowed down again to 'Loom Weaving' or 'Off Loom Bead Weaving'. Whether any of this terminology is technically accurate, it is commonly used in the beading world...and I do like to think of my beadwork as weaving a fabric of seed beads.

Now the beads themselves might play the starring role in this fabric woven of beads, but it's the thread that ultimately holds everything together...and will hopefully hold it all together for a very long time!

Creating anything with seed beads is a very time consuming can be very relaxing to spend hours upon hours beading...and it gives my mind the chance to wander and think and explore...

And lately I have spent a lot of that time thinking about thread. The only actual components in my work are my beads and my thread...and of course the occasional metal finding.

So considering the amount of time that goes into creating something with seed beads, it is very important to me to always use high quality materials...and that means beads, thread, metal findings and any other tools or components that I use!

I have experimented with and tried out many different beading threads...Nymo on the little bobbins, Superlon, Nymo on the spool/cone, Silamide, Fireline, Power Pro, Sono, KO, One G and Wildfire. Of course over time I have found some that I love and some that I hate...

There are many qualities about beading thread that make each one useful for different applications. I like to know that my thread is strong, that it will hold up for a long time, especially in beaded jewelry that might be worn daily. I like thread that adds a fabric like texture or a soft drape to my beadwork, and in some cases I like a thread that will create a sturdy, structural 'frame' for my beadwork.

And I like working with thread that is friendly to work with! There is nothing worse than thread that frays, shreds, tangles, breaks or otherwise causes serious problems while you're in the middle of a beading project...these problems can add hours to your time because you have to rip out your work, add new thread and do it all over again.

Of the threads that I listed above, there are 2 main varieties: Nylon Thread and Gel Spun Polyethylene (GSP) Thread....they are then typed into more specific categories such as Parallel Filament Nylon, Plied Nylon, Plied GSP and Parallel Filament GSP. Now there are many other varieties of beading thread out there, these are just the ones I have tried!

So I have compiled some basic information about these threads...and then I will describe what I like and dislike about all of them.

Nylon Threads

Nymo is a single ply, parallel filament nylon thread that was originally created as an upholstery thread and I have heard that it was also used in the Shoe Making industry. It comes in a huge variety of colors and is relatively inexpensive. Nymo (like most beading thread) is sized by thickness...F being thickest, then D, B, A, O, OO and OOO being the thinnest. But it also comes in two very different versions:

Nymo Bobbins: this thread is the lower quality of the two. It is very stretchy, has a flat profile, it is not pre waxed or conditioned, it frays, breaks and tangles very easily. Nymo Bobbins have 43-140yds depending on the thread size and cost between $1-$2.

Nymo Spools/Cones: this thread is pre waxed/conditioned, it has a round profile so it is slightly thicker than the same size on the bobbin. It is quite stretchy and I find that it still frays, but not nearly as badly as Nymo on the bobbin. Nymo Spools have 250-350yds and cost between $3-$4 each. Nymo cones come in 3oz and 6oz sizes and cost anywhere from $10 to $30.

Superlon Beading Thread: this is a single ply, parallel filament nylon thread. It has almost no stretch to it, has a flat profile, feels like it is pre conditioned/waxed and it comes in a large variety of colors. I do like it better than Nymo bobbins but it does fray and can be pierced easily. It comes in size D, being thicker and size AA, being thinner. Superlon comes in 78yd bobbins and costs around $2.

Sono: this is a single ply, parallel filament nylon thread created in Japan specifically for beading. It is similar in size to Nymo B, it is pre conditioned with a silky texture, it resists fraying but it is very stretchy. Sono comes in 5 colors on 100meter spools. Prices tend to vary drastically for this thread.
It can be found for as low as $4 and as high as $14 per spool.

KO Beading Thread: this is a single ply, parallel filament thread. It was created in Japan specifically for bead weaving. It is pre conditioned/waxed, has a silky texture, it is very strong and hard to pierce. It is fray resistant and it has very little stretch but just enough to maintain good tension and drape. It comes in 18 colors on 50meter mini spools and I find it to be similar in size to Nymo D. It costs between $3-$5 per spool.

One G Thread: this is a single ply, parallel filament thread created in Japan by the Toho Bead Company specifically for bead weaving. It is preconditioned/waxed and hard to pierce with a needle. While it is silky, I find it has a slightly coarse texture to it as well as having a little stretch to it, both of which are excellent for maintaining tension as well as providing a nice fabric like feel and drape. This is a very strong, fray resistant thread. It is similar in size to Nymo B, it comes in 12 colors on 50yd bobbins and costs between $2.25-$3.50.

Silamide: this is a plied nylon thread that originated in the upholstery industry. It has a round profile and very little stretch...some varieties have actually had all stretch removed during manufacturing. It is a strong thread but I find it harder to work with due to the plied nature. It comes in a wide variety of colors and most often it is found on 40yd cards, but it can still be found in the larger spools from 350yds up to 900yds. Prices tend to vary drastically according to the supplier but cards usually range from $1 $2 and spools range from $5-$10.

Fishing Lines/GSP Threads

Fireline: this is a parallel filament GSP fishing line that has also been re branded by Bead Smith and sold as a beading thread. (Fireline Beading Thread is EXACTLY the same as the Fireline Fishing Line they simply have different labels)

GSP lines are made using multiple Polyethylene fibers that are spun and then bonded to create a very strong line with a very small diameter compared to Mono filament fishing lines.

Fireline does not stretch, it is abrasion resistant, and it has a textured but slippery surface, which can sometimes create tension problems. If you find that Fireline is too slippery this can be helped with the use of Micro crystalline wax or Bees Wax.

Fireline comes in about 4 colors that are useful in the fishing world, (Crystal, Smoke, Flame Green etc) and a variety of spool sizes. The sizing of Fireline is a little different than regular beading threads since it is a fishing line.

The sizes will be listed with three different numbers:
#1: by test pound strength (8lb etc)
#2: by the diameter as compared to a mono filament fishing line (3lb Test Diameter etc)
#3: the diameter in millimeters (0.18 etc)

So for example: 8lb test strength with 3lb test diameter means that it has the same diameter as a 3lb test mono filament fishing line while still being more than twice as strong and is 0.18mm thick.

Prices range from $5-$15 for 50yd spools up to $30 for 300yd spools, but it is always cheaper from a sporting goods store than a bead store.

Power Pro: this is a plied GSP fishing line. Polyethylene fibers are spun to create several threads which are braided or plied and then fused/bonded together. This is similar to Fireline but you will notice the separate plies when you cut the thread...this makes it harder to thread than Fireline but might make it stronger or more abrasion resistant. Colors, sizes and prices are similar to Fireline.

Wildfire and Dandyline: these are Beadalon's versions of Fireline and Power Pro respectively. They are thermally bonded threads made with 'Spectra'(TM), which I assume is similar to, or the same thing as, GSP, which is Trademarked 'Dyneema'.

Dandyline is a Braided and Fused thread and the Wildfire has a smooth, thermally bonded coating. Both threads are waterproof and will not stretch.

I have not tried Dandyline but I have tried the Wildfire and honestly I didn't love it. The coating on this thread was easily pierced by my needle...something that Beadalon says is impossible! The outer coating started to strip away from the inner core which then began to fray, causing some serious problems as it happened in the middle of a project. The inner core of the black thread is white, and there's no hiding that white fraying thread in the middle of black or dark colored beads!

I can see how Wildfire could be useful as a warp thread or even a weft thread for would definitely create a different feel in the finished beadwork. And looming is much gentler on your thread than off loom stitches!

Alright...that was a lot of information! Now, onto what I like and don't like about these threads.

One G is my most favorite thread followed very closely by KO Thread. One G is a little thinner than KO, and they come in different they both have their uses in my work.

My most used color is One G's Sand Ash. This darker, neutral shade blends into the background of almost everything....especially all the Bronze colors that I love so much. I also really like the Light Grey by works great with Metallic Silver beads.

I always have a stash of black, brown, and grey threads and while I tend to keep some white thread (mainly Fireline) I rarely ever use it. Dark colors recede into the background while lighter colors are more prominent, so unless the thread is supposed to be part of the visual element of a particular piece, I find it's always better to use a darker or more neutral color than white.

Both One G and KO threads offer just enough stretch to maintain excellent tension while creating that soft, silky, fabric feel. I have found that all beadwork will 'settle' a little, once it's given the chance to 'relax', but this is completely different from thread that will continue to stretch out over time. One G and KO Threads will not stretch out over time like I have seen with Nymo.

They are also very strong threads and can be used to create structural beadwork as well as soft fringe. I have even used One G with crystals, obviously being careful, but I have yet to experience any thread breakage from the crystals.

Now they are both Nylon threads, which has it's inherent weaknesses...and even though they are both pre conditoned/pre waxed, these coatings will eventually break down as you pull the thread through the beads a million times. I have noticed that if I continue using these threads once I have worn down the coating, they will quickly fray or break. But it takes a lot of abuse to get to that point!

So, I always work with a comfortable length of thread (about 2 yards) and I start a new thread at the very first sign of thread damage. Working with manageable lengths of thread really does help to keep the strength and integrity of the thread intact, which ultimately means longer lasting beadwork.

So I have long since destashed every Nymo bobbin that was still hiding out in my thread box...I couldn't stitch one square inch of Peyote with Nymo before it would fray, tangle, break and basically just drive me crazy! And I tried it with beeswax, microcrystalline wax, thread heaven, stretching it, heat setting the wax...I tried everything and it just isn't worth it to me.

I do have several spools of Nymo D and B that I have kept around. I don't use it very often but it is much better than the Nymo thread that comes on the bobbins so I can't really justify throwing it out! I am sure I will use it for something...someday.

I also like Fireline....and I try to get it on sale at Cabela's. I don't use it nearly as often as I used to...I use One G and KO for almost everything these days. But Fireline still has it's uses for me, and I still have a lot of Fireline!

I really like to use Fireline on my loom. The fact that it does not stretch at all makes it perfect for warp threads...and the fact that it is almost impossible to pierce with a needle makes it perfect for pulling your warps.

Using Fireline for the warps creates a fluid feel to the loomed is soft and silky, but a little more firm and less floppy than using beading thread for the warps. And pulling those warp threads just makes everything so much more secure without the hassle of re weaving the warp threads!

And I still like to use Fireline for certain structural pieces or beadwork that requires really tight tension, especially if I am using a lot of Crystals or other potentially sharp edged beads. As much as I love One G, I still find situations where Fireline is a better choice.

So my thread box is full of One G, KO and Fireline...with a few spools of Nymo and one lonely little bobbin of Superlon. For now, these are my favorite threads...but some of my experiments with thread will be ongoing. I like to see what happens over the course of a year, or ten years.

It will be interesting to see how some of these newer threads hold up over the course of time. They have definitely proven to be much nicer to work with, and they have qualities that far surpass some of the old "tried and true" beading threads...and that alone would seem to suggest that they will hold up over the course of time. But of course only time will tell...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pineapple Lace

I have been so busy beading lately that I lost track of my Diary and haven't even been visiting my favorite beading forums or my beading groups on Facebook. I am working on several pieces for the Beading Babes Challenge for this month as well as a few Birthday and Mother's Day gifts, a collar for myself, and a loomwork project for one of my FB groups!

As if that wasn't enough to keep me busy around the clock, I made a spur of the moment decision to purchase a challenge kit from Amy over at Amy Beads, who I met through the Beading Babes group. I chose to buy this kit in orange because I liked the focal bead, I like Amy, and the colors in the kit are so far outside my comfort zone that it really inspired me to challenge myself!

Check out Amy's blog, she is participating in the A to Z Blog Hop...and writing a blog post every day of April (except Sundays), and her posts are all about Beading! She will be writing about the reveal of our challenge kit projects as a blog post on day R, for Reveal.

During all this beading madness, I ended up ripping out over 12 hours of work on a project and started over! The particular piece is the Pineapple Lace pattern by Mikki Ferrugiaro. The design and the pattern itself is awesome, as always.

Her directions are flawless and I am very familiar with her tutorials and her style so while I usually bead up a small sample whenever I am working on something new, I didn't do that this I take all the blame for having to rip out so much work!

The way this project is laid out, you stitch the center of each component in one long strip and then you work out from there. So your length and number of 'Pineapples' is predetermined at the very beginning of the project....and your rows go back and forth across the length.

And of course I decided to make myself a collar rather than just test it out with a small cuff. And I miscalculated my length and added entirely too many "Pineapples", if that makes any sense.

Due to this construction process, it really makes no sense to try and shorten the piece once you are too far into the work...and I was beyond the point of no return! So I just ripped it all out and started over. But I love the end result and it was worth all that time I invested in it!

I am really loving beaded lace, and I think this would make beautiful bracelets, chokers, doilies, embellishments on fabric really is beautiful and it curves around your neck or wrist perfectly!

One of the projects in this month's Beading Babes challenge is the Trellis Necklace by Nancy Dale...and it is a really cool design for a beaded rope. I have completed about 20 inches of it so far and I really like how it's turning out.

I would love to share more photos, but I really shouldn't post any until the reveal at the end of the month...besides, I am also having a terrible time getting good photos of it...the colors just don't want to cooperate with my camera!

While working on this project, I decided it might be cool to add some beaded beads between the rope I have been playing around with Gwen Fisher's pattern for her Cube Cluster Beaded Bead in the current issue of Beadwork Magazine.

These are larger than I thought I would be comfortable with for this rope, but now that I have made one, I really like it...and I plan to experiment with different Pearl sizes and try to make some smaller beads. And if you simply follow the diagrams, rather than all the text, the pattern is easy to follow and works up very quickly!

During all these long hours of beading, I have been contemplating Thread and it's somewhat invisible yet starring role in Beadwork...while it may not be seen, it really is a major component. So my upcoming post about Thread is becoming more in depth than I originally anticipated...more to come soon!

Happy Beading!