Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Czech Beads

There have been a lot of new shapes of Czech glass beads made in the last few years. Many are made by Preciosa. They have some beautiful examples using their beads on their website. There are also several designers who make wonderful things with them. ElllaD2 has beautiful jewelry designs. Ivona Suchmannova has many lovely things for inspiration including some terrific snowflakes made with spike beads.

I am not very good at looking at a design and figuring it out. My 1st attempt used the biggest (about 20mm) spikes. I made a Superduo center and then did herringbone stitch up from the gaps between them with  size 8 and 6 seed beads. Between the spikes I made points of Superduos. I added more seed beads and a crystal later and went through the spikes quite a few times to try to stabilize it. Still a bit floppy but not too bad.

Next I used 15mm spikes and added a little copper color. This one is much more stable. I have more of this size of spike so I think I will keep playing with the concept.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Crystals and pearls

I have found - and saved - quite a few ornament ideas on Pinterest. By far, I have gotten the most repins of the Forget Me Not Beaded Ornament Cover. This spring I decided I should buy the pattern and make it as part of this project.

I started it last week but needed to order more 3mm pearls to finish it. The pattern calls for 70 of them but it actually takes 90. I sent the designed that correction along with 2 others where the diagrams don't match the photo and/ot written directions. It is nonetheless a beautiful design and I am very happy with it.

I don't have a lot of yellow in my ornaments, and yellow flowers are some of my favorites, so I thought that I would use Sunflower Swarovski crystals and white Swarovski pearls. I put it on a lovely matte chocolate ornament ball that I got years ago. I also shortened the dangles by one 4mm pearl/seed bead section - mostly because I goofed on the first one.

I have a couple of tips for this design. The flowers are very fiddley. For me, they flopped around and the petals twisted until they were all attached to other parts of the ornament. Part way through the 10 flowers, I changed to doubled thread. That helped some. I was using Nymo B, probably not the best choice. I think Fireline might have helped to stabilize them better. I also went through the center of the flowers and the connection between them a second time I wonder if there would have been an alternate construction where I could have made the collar around the top and added the flowers (or some of the petals of the flowers) instead of starting with the whole band?

I also have a few tips for beaded ornament covers in general. I find it easiest to work on these while they are on an ornament ball. But, the beads scratch up the ball and remove the finish. I keep one ball that I use to work on all my ornaments. I put the ball in a teacup from a Chinese tea set. That helps keep it contained and stable, making it easier to work on. I also leave it there when I'm not working so it doesn't get tangled. In fact, the ornament I finished two weeks ago sat in the teacup for years the the beads in the cup under the ball. Easy to find the supplies that way! My one caution for this cover is that it has to be put on the actual ball you want it to end up one before tightening during the last step. Once that is done the ball is in there for good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I still don't read Czech!

I started another beaded ornament cover this week. The pattern had the number of one of the elements wrong and I had to order more so I didn't finish it. More on that next week I hope!

I decided to make another blown glass bead ornament that I ordered after finishing last week's ornament. I still couldn't read the instructions since they are in Czech. But, I learned an important thing last week - the photo of a completed ornament can be quite helpful! I also learned that I can pick out the numbers from the text so I knew how much wire was needed for each step.

I had one small problem with this kit (I again bought it from 32 Degrees North). Instead of being a very rigid geometric shape it had a number of small parts off the main object -nose,  wheels and props. I found those difficult to attach properly - mine didn't have the nice round wire loops on the ends and were a bit wobbly instead of tight. But I still think it came out quite cute!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I don't read Czech!

There are some beautiful and unusual Czech beads that are either called Mercury Glass Beads or Blown Glass Beads. The best place I have found to get them is 32 Degrees North. They also carry a few kits for the ornaments. The directions in the kit are in Czech but there are diagrams. Simple diagrams so they are easy to follow. Usually.

I made one earlier this year - easy! I tried another a few weeks ago - indecipherable! I contacted Amanda at 32 Degrees North and she sent me a few photos from different angles. I had thought I got the first step but ....

This weekend I was at the beach with my beading friends. I thought I'd try again. When I got to the third step the Ah Ha! came. I realized I had the right shape (mostly) but it was constructed totally wrong. After snipping the wire and undoing the whole thing I started over. It turned out to be easy. And very pretty! Thanks to Amanda my ornament is done.

I've ordered some more beads and will make more in some different colors. And I got some more kits too. Aren't I supposed to be reducing my stockpile? Ooops.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A long time coming . . .

I have had an unfinished beaded ornament cover sitting in my craft space for over 10 years. Seriously! This week I decided to finish it.

I love the ornament covers in the Beadecked Ornament series. The author, Laura Jansen, had a website back in the day and offered kits of beads for various ornaments. This was one I had bought. The problem: I had no idea which variation of which ornament I was making! The dangles were easy - I had a few done. The crown was easy - there weren't many choices. But, the embellishment over the netting - no idea!

I decided I would do every other row of one of them. Once
finished, I counted the beads and the rows. It seemed there were enough beads to do most of the other rows. Then, after doing some of them, I realized I can't count. Going through my bead stash I found some fire polish beads that are close enough.

I usually put these kind of ornaments on a special display instead of the tree. I've been filling extra spaces on it with crystal stars. Next December I get to take one of those away.

Pretty! And not only is it another ornament but another unfinished project done!