Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pig's Ear to Silk Purse Stash Buster

This was an interesting challenge introduced by Coral Tuttle Egelund; we were to take a pig's ear (something ugly, plain, unappealing etc) and turn it into a silk purse (something beautiful, appealing, etc). We could only use items that were in our "stash". Since I have quite a few things in my office I looked through and finally settled on this item:

White plastic rectangle

I ordered this rectangle a couple, maybe even a few, years back because I was excited to play with it and see what I could create.  When it arrived, I noticed that the edges were thicker than I expected and so adding seed beads would be a challenge.  I threw it to the side and really never gave it much thought until now. I still think the rectangle is an interesting piece, however, the pig's ear aspect is that this piece is quite plain, just a white rectangle.

First i wanted to add something to the rectangle, it is just so plain, so I added some silver and white glass pearls and some bicone crystals.

Then I added two chains, one is silver plated and the other is gunmetal tone.

Last, I added just a few charms made from the pearls and crystals to balance the piece.

I thought adding the embellishments to the sides of the chain rather than just have them hang from the bottom. I took this approach because the chains are quite decorative and I wanted the chains to get just as much attention as the embellishments.

The jury is out as to whether this is a silk purse, maybe a rayon or damask purse, but not certain if it has reached silk. I don't hate the piece, I think it is just so outside my design realm since I am so use to working with beads. However, I did enjoy the challenge and find the piece interesting and quirky and the chains are absolutely lovely.

Silk purse? You be the judge.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lessons in CRAW

CRAW (Cubic Right Angle Weave) is such a versatile stitch, however, recently I have discovered that not many beaders use CRAW and that is just a pure shame.  Many find it hard to maneuver and others are intimidated by it.

I must admit, I felt the same way at first, but I found a wonderful video by Heather Collins  who, in my humble opinion, is one of the best designers in CRAW stitch (not to mention her other projects); has a unique style and an amazing CRAW video that has up close visuals , as well as, step-by-step directions.

If you want to learn CRAW, I recommend starting with Heather's video.  With that said, when this stitch was voted for our Monthly Bead Challenge, I thought great, but many were hesitant and timid, so to show my courage, I tackled a Heather Collins design "Guinevere Cuff".

I started with my color palate 

I purchased this pattern about 2 years previously but I was just to intimidated to start it, I must say, I am glad that I did.  The results are breath taking and Heather provides a complex design that leaves one with new techniques regarding CRAW.

This is 3 individual eight unit CRAW ropes that are joined together

This bracelet is sturdy and full of character

I finished it with antique copper magnetic clasps

Truly this will be a go-to pattern because there are so many elements to this pattern, you could take one of them and develop a whole new design

I also made a simple CRAW bracelet and incorporated crystals. 

Pretty in Pink

While this is a more simplistic design, it shows the versatility of the CRAW stitch.  I created 2 separate CRAW ropes and then strung them on either side of this focal using beading wire.

So regardless of your design, CRAW can assist you to create a piece that can suite your personal style.  Simplistic or complex, CRAW does not disappoint when you incorporate it into your designs.  So grab those beads and give CRAW a try, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rock-n-Roll Loom Bracelet

There is so much joy and amazement once a piece is finished, however, no one ever really sees the difficulties and failures when attempting to create a piece.  Most time designers keep their mistakes hidden, for me, I am simply so glad to complete a piece that has caused me difficulty, that I quickly forget about the mishaps....this time is different.

I decided that I wanted to loom a bracelet and this is only my second loom project, but my first loom project alone.  A few months back I took a beading class with Erin Simonetti and blogged about that awesome experience here. Afterwards, I simply went back to off loom beading, but I felt a twinge of guilt as my loom started to collect its third layer of dust :-(.

So I gathered all my courage and a dust rag and broke out my loom.  I had some awesome beads that I wanted to use so I grabbed them and started to bead...

Looks fine right?

Well when I confronted my loom the next night I noticed a bit o disaster on my loom....

 Notice the buckling pearls, I just could not work out a systematic way to add these pearls AND I could not back out of the thread path regardless of how hard I tried. What to do?

At first I thought crush and destroy this loom and stick with the comforts of off looming beading 

However, while this experience is negative, I love that I was able to turn it into something positive.  I scrapped this idea and warped (threaded) my loom yet again.  With a bit of perseverance I mentally designed the beginning of another piece...

I loved the colors that I was working with, so I kept those and began a gradient pattern

I didn't want a flat bracelet so I started adding jet black chips

I consulted my group Bead Loom and was motivated to continue to finish one side with chips.  Many also suggested adding something to the opposite side to give the bracelet balance....

I had some silver faceted glass gems sitting around so I added these to the opposite side, along with some red delicas to give the bracelet some pop

I even found a way to incorporate the saucer bead from my original design and I made it part of my loop and button closure

The bracelet is quite big for my wrist but I still love the outcome and will be listing this for sale in my Etsy shop within the next couple of days.

Moral to this story, turn tragedy into triumph and don't give up. Make your mistakes work for you because ultimately, every design has some success in it, even if it is just a color palate or maybe a shape, something can be salvaged from every disaster.  And normally, if you just "keep swimming" you reach your destination and how much more enjoyable is the outcome after experiencing and enduring a bit of tribulation.