Saturday, February 17, 2018

Polymer Clay Cabochons and Bead Embroidery

Yup, making my own cabs now.  After a year of buying them I came to the conclusion I would have more options if I started making them myself.  I have learned a ton of techniques from the Youtube clay artist Ludmila Bakulina.  What a talented lady who I admire for all of her creativity.  I am still a newbie just two weeks into this new art form, but I am hooked and I know I can make myself some awesome pieces to incorporate into my bead embroidery pieces. The good thing about this craft is it takes minimal amount of supplies to get started. I think I have invested about $75 in some clay, a few tools and molds. All you need is an oven to bake the goods to perfection. I do own a dremel tool which makes buffing a breeze.

Here is a look at at first batches.  The watercolor batch is pretty, but I learned a few better techniques on sanding and buffing that came out in the garnet and white beads. It really pays to have the right sand paper for the job!

I am already laying down the cabs in a new design. This will be 1.5" cuff that I will adhere to a pre-formed brass cuff.

In between making clay cabs I manage to finish beading the collar design. I am pondering what connections I will use to finish off the piece.

I am over the moon with the crystal finish look.  The cab on this piece is just spectacular and what led me to pulling out the pasta machine I bought 5 years ago. When I thought about clay years ago I was not even thinking about doing bead embroidery.  Bringing these two mediums together in a match made in heaven. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Polar Bear Necklace

Instead of a geometric design around cabochons I gave myself a challenge of a scenery piece. I started with the polar bear placement and the rest seem to fall into place. I purchased a light box to help me transfer pictures to beading foundation quickly and clearly. I can't say enough about having this $20 - $30 tool just for this purpose.

This design took about 3 months to bead because I paused in between segments to visualize how to create the icy texture around the bear and the horizon color. An interesting approach was I used some lesser quality seed beads I bought locally that were uneven cuts. I almost discarded them and luckily I did not do this because the uneven characteristic provided the perfect texture for the ice. 

Each time I push myself to a higher ground I learn more about the art of beadi embroidery and how limitless it can be even using lower quality seed beads.

Finally, here are a few other designs with the lapis blue cabochons that were accomplished in between working on this necklace.   

So where do I buy the majority of my cabochons? An Etsy shop called mygemgarden2. The shop ships from China, but don't let that deter you because Jack ships quickly and packages securely with bubble wrap for the long journey. I have never been disappointed with any of the cabochons I have received.

I have another design in production that I plan to show next week. I will discuss the artist providing the inspiration, where I purchased the cabochons and some of my stitching techniques.  Stay tuned....

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Lots and Lots of Beading Updates

I have been away from my blog for quite a few months and I return with lots of show and tell projects. 

Let me start with the bead embroidered letter pins. I began with the first "L" as a birthday gift for a friend. They were fun to make and friends thought they were unique so I made a few  gifts and custom orders.

I treated myself to the "S".  

A beaded cuff with matching earrings for a friend on Christmas.

A beaded collar was gifted to my sister for her birthday. 

A couple of new beading tutorials were added to my Etsy shop.

Wow! I have surprised myself with just how much I have accomplished since August.  

Last, but not least is a beaded collar in progress. This has been a lingering project since late fall mostly because I had a creative stumbling block on how to fill in the area around the polar bear. I settled on keeping the sapphire blue as the primary color. I am praying I have enough beads to finish because I have no idea where these were purchased years ago.  Yikes!

That's all for now.  Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom!  Happy Holidays. See you next year.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Bead Embroidered Barrette

A quick barrette in between projects. This barrette is 4 inches which is ideal for thick hair.  I designed the center to resemble mosaic glass and used 15/0 seed beads. I will admit it was tedious work!

The ends were patterned with 11/0 seed beads around the silver bird and butterfly beads I purchased from A.C. Moore. These beads had center holes and I was happy that they laid fairly flat in the design.  

The backing is ultra suede. A technique I use to give the backside a finished look is to cut small slits at each end and then slip in the barrette ends. I figure where to position the slits by bending the beaded foundation against the barrette and marking the slits about an 1/8 inch back.

A helpful hint I can share is to glue (I use E6000) down the ultra suede up to the slits. Put some pressure all around the area with your thumbs and let it dry for 30 minutes. Slip in the barrette ends into the slits and apply a generous amount of glue. Be careful not to put too much that it soaks the suede leaving glue marks.  Use small clamping paper clips to hold the ends down while they dry for about 30 minutes. Remove the clips and let the whole piece dry overnight before starting the edging.

Happy beading!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bead Embroidered Necklace

I just finished this necklace design utilizing a very basic collar template. Here is how the project progressed from start to finish.

I used a basic collar template and elongated it for the big teardrop jasper stone. The 4 irregular shaped cabs were turned randomly to balance the design within the outline. I chose several bead colors that matched the shades and tones from the cabs. First, I circled the cabs with black and galvanized silver seed beads to lift them up.

I then used complimentary seed bead colors in gunmetal, ivory, bronze, brown and gray and then sewed the beads in a random pattern around the cabs. I also incorporated a few randomly placed small silver disc beads.

On the ends of the collar where there are no cabs I made a wave-like pattern to fill in the open area. 

The most satisfying part of making a necklace is clipping the foundation away from the design. To give this necklace a sturdy shape I did glue lightweight cardboard to the back before I applied the ultra suede backing.

The necklace closes with a gold toggle clasp. All and all it took me 4 weeks to finish around my full-time job.

What's next? Stop back to see how I use some new cabs in gold and green shades. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Blue Lapis Beaded Cuff

The latest piece in the bead embroidery journey is this brass base cuff I made for a friend's birthday. I learned some new tricks which I intend to share in an upcoming post. I did not document the process because frankly, I had no idea if all the information I had acquired from various sources was going to work as planned. Another dumb luck project turned out brilliantly.  

A mention on the shop I have been purchasing the cabochons for all of my posts. The Etsy shop is called mygemgarden2. There is a wide selection of items and prices vary. I think their photos are pretty accurate in terms of stone colors. I can offer the shop owner is proficient with shipping quickly and packing the contents. The ship time to New York from China has been relatively quick (10 - 12 days). 

It was my first time using leather instead of microsuede for the backing. Either is fine, but I think I prefer the leather because it will repel any lotion or perfume the wearer might have on that day.

I had two different wrist models for this piece. It wasn't until I saw these pictures that I was really able to admire my work.  When I work on these pieces I am focused on getting the right seed bead colors and balance with the stones. I don't think about what outfits it can be paired with later. The model above was wearing a work outfit and the recipient of the bracelet is below and she was wearing an evening out dress. 

The brass cuff was very satisfying. I am looking forward to doing it again soon. In the meantime, here is a sneak peek at the beaded collar I am working on now.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bead Embroidery Cuff Process

This embroidered cuff was designed to incorporate earthy colors. The 3 cabochons have spider veins that resemble trees or branches. Those characteristics helped me choose the the indian red, moss green, black, cream and bronze seed beads.

The cuff shape was drawn around the shape of the cabochons. My vision was to give the cabs dimension with a double row of beads and then create a flow of beads around them. I always try to get early photos of my creative process to encourage anyone thinking they can't master bead embroidery that they can do this with motivation and perseverance. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to lay the beads. This is your art!

Below is the photo with the initial drawing of the shape on the felt backing. (Hint: use backing that will be the least noticeable by using a felt color that is close to the lightest color beads. Then, use a magic marker in other areas to obscure the backing behind the darker beads.) After I finished the initial placement of the cabs, I did use black magic marker to hide the gray. 

After I glued the cabs down I used 11/0 round and 11/0 delicas for the double row around the side cabs.  On the middle cab I added the 15/0 pumpkin color beads to lift it off the cuff.  My personal style is to add dimension and focal points.

Below is a photo of the finished outline. At this point, I started to define the outer edge with the donut-like beads on the right.  

In the photo below the bead flow started to emerge. I added more rows behind the donut-like beads and left an area for a completely different design. I added the black 12M bugle beads at the center of the cuff to set the center cab apart.  

In this last photo you can see I am basically just filling in the areas with the bead flow pattern.

It was backed with black microsuede and edged with 11/0 matte black seed beads. The clasp is a black hook and eye.

Because I am not always sure if I will keep my art or sell it I tend to size everything to fit me. This cuff measures 6 1/2 inches.  It's not too snug, nor does it slide on the wrist.  For now, it is on my art shelf for viewing and future inspiration.

Update:  The cuff was gifted to my sister for her birthday. She loves it!

I hope seeing my creative process was encouraging to anyone thinking about bead embroidery.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Beaded Hair Accessory

I just finished this hair barrette this week. It took a little longer than I expected to fill in the space around the medallion. I designed the barrette around a 4 inch clasp and the brass medallion size resulting in  a barrette measuring approximately 2 x 4 inches. I purchased the brass medallion a few years ago and really wanted to find a use for it. The seed beads I used are jewel tones in gold, sapphire blue, dark red, dark magenta and green. The brass beads and gold bugle beads that I lined around the medallion provided a nice dimension.

The 4 inch clasp is firmly secured to a genuine black leather backing. This size clasp is perfect for a thick mane of hair. 

I stitched around the edges with sapphire blue and green seed beads giving it a nice finished look. 

This item is available in my Etsy shop for $49. It's a one-of-a-kind art piece that will surely draw attention.