Stitches: A Fiber Show

22 02 2011

I think of my jewelry as falling into the “metal arts” category – silver, copper, hammers, and torches – yep, that’s metal arts! I sometimes use beads and gemstones, but most of the time, they are the accents, not the focus.

I have 2 major exceptions to this, which I call my “soft” side – my bead crochet, which uses seed beads, and my kumihimo, which uses colored cords and fibers. And this past weekend, I indulged a bit in my soft side, and I attended Stitches.

Stitches is a convention of all things fiber: spinning, knitting, weaving, crocheting – it is a huge meeting of the soft and fluffy yarns, the new wool blends, the natural fibers, and the hand-dyed… it is the opposite of a bead show, where all the materials are stone and glass and gems.

Aisles at Stitches (click photo for close-up)

Look at all the vivid colors – what you can’t see is the textures and the different yarns – the silks, the wools, the cashmeres, the soys, the cottons – absolutely wonderful to take in. I really love the weaving – it looks like something I could get into in the future, although I don’t know what I’d do with the fabric once woven! There were also gorgeous sweaters, jackets, socks, and blankets – available in patterns and kits… if only I was fiber-friendly!

Marion Jewels in Fiber Booth (click photo for close-up)

I spent one day roaming the floor, and checking out the goods… I bought some great ribbon style yarn, which I’m using for some kumihimo projects (I’ll do that in a later post), and I spent a day doing demo’s at a friends booth – Marion Jewels in Fiber. Marion has a great online store, where she carries an extraodinary selection of silk threads, as well as the full line of C-Lon cording. Also, she sells kumihimo kits, micro-macrame materials, tools, and my StudioDax Bead Crochet Jig.

My StudioDax Bead Crochet Jig - Demo Kit

After doing demos for a year or so now, I’ve pretty much got it down – my demo kit includes a couple of projects in different stages: the multi-purple bracelet is almost done (see the cords threaded thru the endcaps and focal bead), the solid green size 8 beads, and the 3 color spiral size 6 beads (peach, white, and bronze) are bracelets in progress, and the solid black teardrop beads that are still on the jig. The other pieces show how to remove the jig from the crochet rope (the multi-color stripes on the jig), as well as some examples of using the jig to make ropes with smaller delicas and size 11 beads. And I always have a sample of what it looks like to start a bead rope without the jig – you can see it on the right in the photo, below the awl – it looks a little like a knot of beads!

I appreciate all my customers that buy from my StudioDax shop , and I love when they leave me feedback letting me know how much they enjoy using the jig, but it’s great fun doing demos to show how easy it is to use, and having people buy the jig on the spot… instant gratification!!

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How the Bead Breaks

6 06 2010

I have always admired the folks who work with seed beads making beautiful intricate patterns – they make the beads come to life. But my brain and fingers just don’t work that way… the beads get the best of me! But after taking a class in Bead Crochet Ropes a few years ago, I have found a way to satisfy my occasional seed bead craving!!

One of my favorites bangles - I love the colors

There are re are many options and variations in the bangles – I can create spiral patterns by changing up the bead colors, textured spirals by varying the bead size, and mosaic looking patterns by randomizing the beads. But no matter how I string on the pattern, invariably there will always be a bead or two that is not right, and needs to be broken off the thread.

A Rope in Progress

You can do this the wrong way – by whacking the bead with a hammer, or squeezing it in pliers (you might cut the thread), or you can do it the right way, by breaking the bead from the inside.

A Beady Boo-Boo...

In this example, I am showing that the pattern is incorrectly strung with 2 black beads together. I need to break the bead to keep the 5 color spiral pattern, and I want to do it without cutting the thread.

Step 1: there's an awl in my bead...

The first thing you need to do is put the tip if an awl into the bead you want to break. Make sure that the awl does not slide all the way into the bead – most beading awls are very fine, and may be too thin to break the bead.

Step 2: put the bead on the block

The next thing you need to do is put the bead on a block of wood , with the awl positioned in the hole (make sure the point of the awl does not split the thread). You can use a stack of cardboard instead of wood – you just need a surface that is firm, but will give under the point of the awl.

Step 3: push, push... and crack!

Now just push the awl firmly thru the bead. The pressure of pushing on the awl will crack the bead, leaving the thread intact. Keep your hand around the bead as you crack it, so that the glass doesn’t shoot out. In this example, I show breaking one bead, but if you’re stringing a 5 color pattern, and you leave out a bead, you’ll need to break several beads until the pattern is correct

I love creating these bangles, and have created a tool for making it easy to get started. If you’ve ever wanted to make them, or have tried, and found it frustrating, please check out the tool/tutorial I have in my Etsy shop.





Goody, Goody…. Buying Goodies!

16 05 2010

One of the fun things about creating jewelry is that I get to go to go to wholesale shows and shop for all kinds of goodies! Since I also teach, “buying things for class projects” is my favorite excuse for going overboard!

You Can NEVER Have Enough Silver!!

ABOVE: Although I make many of my own components, I prefer buying some pre-fabricated items… I really hate to make jumprings if they are made with wire thinner than 18g, so I tend to buy them in bulk and stock up. And I loved finding these fun shapes – marquis, ovals and squares – they make fun earring components, and my students love them!

One is Enough!

ABOVE: I teach several classes where we make wire wrapped pendants, and these large sized bead strands are some new stones I found. From the left, they are: American Jade (this may be a descriptive name…. I think it is probably a jasper of some kind), African Bloodstone (these have some wonderful pyrite inclusions), dyed Trucolor Jade (again, this may be a descriptive name…. I think it is probably a quartz), and Red Jasper.

Some Pretty Things!

ABOVE: These are what I call “fun and trendy” strands… they work great for earrings and bracelets, and make a great accent for metal work. The bright colors don’t need too much else, and they look fabulous paired up with the silver shaped jumprings above! From the top, they are Dyed Quartz (a warm green), Dyed Quartz (this pink strand is a great imitation of expensive Rhodicrosite, complete with cream colored striations!), Crackle Etched Agate, and 3 strands of brightly Dyed Jasper.

I will be creating some new pieces using these components and beads soon – I’ll make sure to post a few examples here when I add them to my shop!