Sunday, May 1, 2016

I Love Blog Hops!

Yes, I do!...and I particularly like Karen William's blog hops! They're fun and funky..what more could you ask? 

This time round, Karen posed a Freeform Ring Challenge, which I was delighted to opt into...


Karen was awesome about giving us a decent bit of time to make these happen, and I had fun! 

This pretty little pearl was a left-behind, just wandering around aimlessly on my bead board; as she is in a colour range that is outside my usual, I decided this would be a great project to try out a new colour combo:

Front:


Back:


This next bold guy I made to match a new top I treated myself to....

The top:


The ring....front:


Back:


Now THIS little madam absolutely REFUSED to become freeform.....the nerve!! But she was insistent, so I've included her anyway!

Front:


Back:


...and here's the top she'll accompany:



Thanks Karen!! It was great! 

I hope you'll check out the others "ring"ing in Spring as well!









Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ornament Swap Blog Hop!~Merry Christmas!








Karen Williams of Skunk Hill Studio made a few of us an offer we couldn't refuse several weeks ago...an ornament exchange! Several of us have participated in Sally Russick's exchange in years past, and we were missing it! So Karen, thankfully, stepped up to the plate to organize. 

This is my busiest time of the year, as I am in retail~as it is for many others, I'm sure. BUT~I couldn't pass this up. With just two weeks to create, I jotted down a few ideas which became quite a long list by the time I had run out of ideas! 

Karen could not possibly have found me a better partner! Francie Broadie and I compared notes in an email, and discovered:

-we are both "funky" lovers
-we both adore bling
-our fave colour combinations are the same~teals, purples, lime greens, fuschias. 
-we're both seed beaders

Easy!! I got this (I hope LOL.....)!!

It was really FUN to make Francie's ornament for her....I loved picking out the bead colours, enjoyed making the ornament for her, and had fun "funking" it up a little. 

Sure hope she likes it! (...AND I hope Customs hasn't decided to keep it on their desks for Christmas in a fit of pique...that happens)

Here's Francie's ornament from me:


I had to do something simple because of the timeframe, but I hope she likes her "Francie-cle". 


I had to laugh when I received Francie's little package in the mail....yep....we had mailed on the same day!

I DIED when I opened up this package....could these BE more perfect? 





As we live in a very small townhouse (land is expensive in Ontario, y'all!), I had asked Francie for something small in the ornament line, as our tree is just 4 feet tall. These will be absolutely ME on that tree, which is being set up later today. 

I love them!! Thank you so much Francie!

...and here's the rest of Francie's package for me, all together....yumm! The Christmas chocolate tradition LOL!


(Love that gorgeous notecard as well)

Can't wait to visit and see everyone else's ornys....do take a trip round!







Saturday, November 21, 2015

What's Your Bag?


Sad to say, my "bag" seems to be finishing late! Again I apologize for being "not quite there"...I absolutely loved this project and have spent many hours working on it, but again just ran out of hours in the day even with the extended timeline this time 'round. 

But...let me tell you about my process and show you a few pix along the way:

The inspiration:


Some time back, I had an internet friend who was living in the Middle East at the time and posting wonderful pictures of the area; she was kind enough, when asked, to send me a few coins with their unique designs. I knew I wanted to use them in my beadwork somehow, but the idea had not yet percolated. I also work part time at a retail location, and we are continually receiving in rolls of coin and from people's pockets..foreign coin of many different types. Again I asked, and was told I could gladly have them in exchange for their intended denomination~ie, I paid a nickel for the one we received in a roll of nickels and so on. At about the same time, while we were doing this exchange, another friend at work offered to bring me in some coin that she and her husband had from their world travels...and now I had quite a collection! 



One day, a phrase that my mother used to use all the time with my sisters and I popped into my head..."Mad Money". We always had to have "mad money" in our pockets...in case one needed to make a phone call, or get the bus home from a date, or survive another "emergency".

 It was about that time that I got Therese's note regarding the challenge, and everything started to gel in my brain...I would make a bag for my phone, called "mad money". It would hold the phone, a credit card or two...and incorporate some of the "mad money" I had received from all over the world into the embroidery. 

Designing the Bag


 I actually spent several weeks looking for patterns online that would fit what was in my head, with absolutely no luck whatsoever...so I decided to start from scratch, use my phone as a template and simply design my own. I put a great deal of thought into the practicality of what I was planning...what the orientation of the phone would be, how the credit card holder would work, the flap to protect the phone, how I would attach a chain strap...and then started drawing it out using the phone as a size guide.




I then transferred it onto pattern paper, and made sure the edges were straight and the pieces were properly broken out:



I originally thought to use ultrasuede for the fabric, but then decided to use some real leather I had picked up from a local designer, who uses it in garments.

Before cutting into the leather, I made a muslin prototype and stitched it together to see if the size would actually work:



It worked perfectly!....but only with the phone case off...and I rethought that and decided I did not want to leave my phone unprotected in this little bag....just in case. 

So that meant making some adjustments to the pattern for the added width of the case:



I simply split each pattern down the middle and added about 3/8" to the width of the bag. 
Once that was completed, I transferred the pattern onto the leather using a bright silver pen so that I knew where my edges needed to be: (the silver will be cut off when the bag is stitched together).



Embroidering the Bag


At last!! Time to stitch! 

I am supporting the bag with Stiff Stuff in certain places...the coins are heavy and I want the bag to stand up to wear...so the back pocket that I'm currently working on, the front, and the over-flap will all be supported. The back piece that the back pocket is stitched to, I think at this point will not. 

I wanted to continue the "mad money" theme, and the design that immediately came to mind for me is a bargello-like zig zag across the pieces. 

First, I glued several coins into place, and then drew a design baseline onto the leather with a marking pencil. This I followed for the first line of stitching, and then everything else can follow along that guideline. 




Then I bezeled the coins....



...and started to stitch....and stitch....and stitch, using "coin" colours from my stash of beads. WOW. This was taking a reaaaaalllly long time...but I realllly, really want the leather to be solidly embroidered



You'll notice I added another bezel to the original group...didn't like the empty space up at the top right....

And.....weeks later...the back panel complete....(I think LOL; I may add another row at the top).



 I'm liking the way it is coming together. The other pieces still to be embroidered are the flap, and the front, and of course it needs to be stitched together with a leather needle and thread. I will leave the leather edges raw. I plan to attach a magnetic closure to the front of the flap, with a coin embroidered over top of it. I will attach a chainmaille shoulder chain to grommets in the side of the bag. 

Thanks for wading through this long post!! 

I do hope you'll take a few minutes and visit the other participants...I can't wait to see "What's Their Bag"! 


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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Done! Almost.....

I thought I would add a picture of my (almost) done bead embroidered bracelet from the ATTS7 challenge, and get some feedback from all my wonderful beader friends...

I have declared the bracelet "DONE!" at this point. 


Here is a picture of Sherry's original from the magazine....


As you can see, after the brick stitch border, she added picots using 11's and drop beads. I actually have the drop beads I intended to use for this....but you know what, I decided it's just too OTT for my taste. I vastly prefer the neater and simpler plain brick stitch edge, so I am leaving mine that way.
I feel hers takes away a bit from the focal.  

Another conundrum I'd love your opinion on...as you can see, the ends of my bracelet are scalloped (I'm guessing she filled hers in with embroidery to square them off, none of which is discussed in the pattern), and I like mine scalloped...but it does present a bit of a problem attaching a closure. 
I don't want to add to much extra length, as the bracelet is about the right length already (with about 1/2-3/4" for closing). Sherry's bracelet uses a slide clasp...any other ideas?




Friday, June 5, 2015

A Time to Stitch 7



I was so excited when I actually saw the announcement for this round of A Time to Stitch! There were many times when I would have liked to join in, but missed the announcement.

Sadly, my best intentions were hijacked by a fall at work and a commitment which happens every year....but needs to come to fruition a bit earlier this year than it normally does.
In any case, I have done my best to finish, and although I didn't quiiiiiiite make it...I hope you'll all forgive! So, on to my (mostly) finished bead embroidery piece....
It still needs the edging finished and a clasp attached obviously, which I will finish next week. 

I learned a lot doing this!! This is a pattern by Sherry Serafini from Beadwork June/July 2011 which has been on my to-do list for...about four years! Hey, don't judge, it's a long to do list ;-)....



Things I loved:

1. Doing the bead embroidery itself...like many beady things, it's very zen; when you need something to do while you're watching TV or thinking through something else, bead embroidery is perfect. Some may find the repetitive nature boring...I didn't. I will definitely be doing this again, and in fact have an idea I'm working out as we speak. So, thanks, Therese and Christine, for involving me in a technique which I love!

2. The outer border on this puppy...in this particular case, the black and brass line enclosing the ripples...I will definitely use this again, I love the look of it...it is raised a bit from the rest because the beads are larger, and looks like a twisted bead rope.

3. Working on the backing...I used Lacy's Stiff Stuff and really like it. Being able to make markings on the backing to guide your embroidery I found very helpful as I am somewhat *cough* AR. It also helps me to not get carried away and find myself with a belt instead of a bracelet *g*. Next time, I will colour the backing somehow so it doesn't show through the beading. In the (closeup) picture it is quite apparent, not so much in real life. 

Things I didn't love:

1. Proportions...I'm not sure what Sherry was thinking here; I followed the specifics of sizes in the pattern, but the cabochon is completely out of proportion with the size of the bracelet in my opinion. It is much too large, and next time, I would definitely use a smaller cabochon, likely 15-20 mm. (This one is >25 mm). The 4mm pearl rounds used as the centres of the ripples are also mis-proportioned...they stick up way too far from the size 15 beaded background for my liking. Next time, I would go with 3 mm pearls instead.

2. Coloring...just because I'm crazy like that, I wanted to work in a colorway that is not my usual. I am very much a colorist, and choosing the colors is 75% of the fun for me. These I think are a "miss". I would have to play around with coloring the ripples themselves, but I haven't had time to create alternatives just yet. Next time I would definitely make several variations of the ripple before stitching it finally down, to see which works best. I think it's not the colors themselves here, as it is their placement that bothers me.

Would love to know what y'all think!

3. The lines of dividing 15's between the pearls around the cabochon...although there are EXACTLY the same number of 15's in each round, some of them are "falling away" from the top of the work, so that the thread shows. I'm not sure what's causing this, but it is unsightly and bugging the crap out of me! Ideas? Solutions?


However, 10 years from now when I'm an expert at this *g* it'll be a good "first piece" to show where I started out!

I'm excited to see what the other participants have created...I hope you'll visit them all to see!

1.       Therese (Host) 
2.       Christine  (Host)
3.       Amy
4.       Lola
5.       Lori F
6.       Kim
7.       Becky Pancake
8.       Karin G.
9.       Debbie (Kepi)
10.   LizE
11.   Maryanne
12.   Paula
14.   Wendy
15.   Janet
16.   Jasvanti
17.   Ginger
18.   Alicia
19.   Bobbie
20.   Shirley
21.   Sarah
22.   Cynthia
24.   Lizzie
25.   Samantha
26.   Sally
27.   Niki
28.   Karen W.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January block for CQJP 2015

Here I am, running up to the finish line with my block.....phew!! 

This block was a bit of a challenge to get completed this month, as I had a bit of a slow start, having to come up with a block shape and theme for the year before starting. 
Against others' probably good advice *g* (but what else would you expect from me?) I am going with a true "journal" block; each will be done on the theme of the preceding month's activities and moments and weather, so that I have in future years, a memento of each month of this year. 

Here is the "nude" block; I kept it in the dark blues/grays colour theme, as the month was a dreary one of constant rain and dark days leading up to the Winter Solstice. Dec 21st is always one of my favourite days of the year; I hate the winter and especially the darkness, and knowing we are now on an upward path to Spring is so cheering! 




Here it is just started, with my favourite day starting out the stitching:




The star and lamb represent Christmas (a very quiet one for us this year), the fabric to the left of the Christmas patch is New Years (also quiet)...and the rest is likely self-evident. 



Here's a closeup of the center portions showing the detail of the stitching:


Thanks to Valerie Bothell, who is leading a Facebook group called "Joyful Embellishments", giving us a stitch a week to try...the two feather stitches you see here are two of the ones she's shown. 
Please do come join us if you're a stitcher, or would like to be!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I'm not Dead Yet!

Well, it's been about two weeks of reduced hours of work...and I'm LOVING it, and I haven't starved to death yet...stay tuned! :-)

I have been working away on some of my current projects...finished a couple of things which were Christmas gifts requested late, so needed to be completed after the fact. Here's the first....




This is a double Half Persian 4-in-1 reversible (whew, that's a mouthful!) necklace for my son; I am letting him decide about the clasp, and he hasn't chosen one yet, so that is to come. I suspect I will be hand tooling a hook-and-loop closure out of the same bronze the small rings are done in. 

This was an enjoyable piece to work; it may become one of my favourite weaves. It moves quickly, is easy and rhythmic to do, and the result is quite spectacular. 
Here's a picture showing the reverse colourway, which is different, as you can see.
This is a project from Karen Karon's ChainMaille Jewelry Workshop book, if you would like to give it a go. 



I've also gotten some work completed on my CQJP 2015 block:


The middle cream blob there will turn into a lamb for my Christmas section when it is finished. I'm doing the motifs in each area first, and then will embellish with seam stitching around them later. 

Hope you're having a productive start to the year as well!