Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Cluster Earrings Tutorial

Remember my product review post about goodies I received from The Bead Shop Manchester? Well here's the first of at least 2 free tutorials using the yummy Czech faceted round glass bead mix.

Crystal Cluster earrings

In addition to some of the smaller beads from the mix, you will need some headpins, jump rings and a pair of earwires. You will also need some wire cutters, round nosed pliers and chain nosed pliers (or another pair of round nosed would work too).

There are quite a few ways you could adapt this tutorial to make them longer, more cluster-y or more decorative but if you are looking to make exactly what I have then I used:

2 of the 8mm pale luster grey
2 of the 8mm dark blue
4 of the 6mm gunmetal
8 of the 4mm montana blue
8 of the 4mm gunmetal
24 ball ended headpins
4 jumprings (mine are 5mm)
1 pair of earwires

You will need to thread each of the beads you are going to use onto a headpin. Use the round nosed pliers to create loops above the beads and trim the excess wire. A fab tutorial for creating even sized loops on your headpins can be found here by Celia of Jencel beads. Here are the beads I used for one of the earrings with their looped headpins.

Open one jumpring, hold it with one of the pairs of pliers and thread on one small blue, a larger gunmetal, the large grey, a large gunmetal and a small blue. Close the jumpring. It should look something like this.

Open a second jumpring and hold it with one of the pairs of pliers. Add a small gunmetal, a small blue, a small gunmetal and the large blue. Next thread on the ring you just made, between the two smaller blue beads. Then thread on a small gunmetal, a small blue and a small gunmetal.

Next comes the fiddly bit! You need to add the earwire and use the second pair of pliers to close the loop.
That's one earring done. Make a second and you have a pair.

If you like longer earrings, you could keep adding more jumprings with more beads on them. They are glass though so the weight could quickly add up if you add too many beads. Another way of adding length would be to add clusters of beads to chain instead.

I hope you like this tutorial and I'd love to see what you make if you do use it. Drop by my facebook page and post them on my wall or write the link in the comments below so I can come see!

As far as tutorial use goes, you are more than welcome to sell what you make using these instructions but please do not copy this tutorial to redistribute/teach without contacting me. If you wish to share my tutorial, then thanks muchly, but please link people to this post. You have my permission to use an image for the purposes of linking to this tutorial only. For any other use, please contact me. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Product Review: The Bead Shop

I was fortunate enough recently to be sent some goodies from The Bead Shop Manchester to review. For those of you who don't know, The Bead Shop sells a variety of beads and jewellery making equipment for all ranges of abilities.

Firstly, the faceted beads. I think you get a gorgeous mix of colours and in a range of sizes. The smallest in my pack are 4mm and the largest are 12mm. Here a couple of pictures of the pile when I tipped them onto my bead mat and after I had sorted them out.

I particularly like the colour of the grey ones to the right of the second picture. They have a lovely lustre to them. The larger beads on the bottom left have a brownish hue to them and there are several with blue tones. I will shortly be making a hairclip and a pair of earrings (at least) from this mix and will be posting up the free tutorials here on this blog, hopefully within a couple of weeks (assuming bump/hormones behave themselves and don't make me too ill). I'm really looking forward to experimenting with them.

Kumihimo is a form of Japanese braiding. I've know about it for a while and even bought the traditional marudai and bobbins approximately 10 years ago to have a go. I have a couple of books on the subject by Jacqui Carey too. However, I have never used it! Bad Gemma! Shortly after I bought the traditional equipment, new foam boards appeared on the market. They are MUCH cheaper than the proper looms and were reported to be easier to use. I was a bit miffed and it put me off trying my loom but I couldn't justify buying the discs as I technically had suitable equipment. So when The Bead Shop offered to send me a kit I was thrilled.

Here's what I recieved.

You get instructions, the board, 8 bobbins, braiding cord, thread, beads (seed or crystal depending on which kit you choose), clasp and glue. I suspect my kit accidentally got the wrong instructions put in as it talked about crystals but it doesn't really make and difference to the technique, only the bead counts.

Its really easy!! Definately suitable for a total beginner and really quick too. I think it took me less than 2 hours in total from beginning to finished bracelet. I found the instructions very easy to follow. There are instructions for an 8 strand plain braid, a 16 strand braid (please note you will need to purchase 8 more bobbins if you want to do a 16 strand braid) and details as to how to add beads. You braid a little without beads, then start adding the beads. There is a helpful picture showing you where the bead has to sit. When you drop a bead down it doesn't automatically go in the right place, you have to tuck it in. The instructions suggest you weigh the knot with 25 pennies, which I didn't have lying around, so I just used a bag of some of the glass beads above and a safety pin! I must admit, at first I didn't think it was working. Nothing seemed to be happening but on closer inspection underneath the board a tiny braid was appearing.

 Because I had the wrong instructions I did have to add more beads to the strands as I ran out after about 13cm/5" of beaded braid. I divided the remaining tube into roughly equal piles and just threaded them all, though I didn't end up using them all. The final beaded length of my bracelet is 16cm/6.25". With the included clasp it gives a length of 20cm/7.75". I did think I was going to have to tell you that I couldn't get on with the glue as it didn't set practically instantly as suggested but in the time its taken to write this post it seems to have decided to stick. Excellent! I can now wear my bracelet on my trip to B&Q to buy mouse traps (long story).

My tension isn't brilliant but I'm extremely pleased with the results, especially for my very first go. The only thing I'd do differently, if I was starting this exact kit again, is to thread all the beads at the beginning. The kit recommends you thread the beads after you've done a bit of plain braid but this just means you have to unwind and rewind the bobbins repeatedly. With the aforementioned bead shortage, I ended up winding and unwinding 3 times.

I'm looking forward to experimenting with different beads, I think different sizes or shapes on the different strands could be fun. I'm also going to revisit my Jacqui Carey books to see if any of the braids in there can be done on the foam disc. Also, I may have to try with sterling silver wire. I've already got a plan for a pair of earrings or two with braided sterling.

So keep your eye out here! Soon there will be a tutorial or two using the yummy mix of Czech faceted beads and you may even see some new braiding creations in the near future (although knitting and crocheting for baby may have to take priority over making things for me!)

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

OTTBS: Bead, Book and Bounce- Japanese Beadwork

The fifth book in the OTTBS Bead Book & Bounce book review project is Japanese Beadwork by Sonoko Nozue.

I've had this book in my collection for about half a year I think. I added the book to my Amazon wish list after seeing the gorgeous free pattern for the Crystal Rose offered as a sampler on the Lark website (here). Despite now owning the book I still wanted to make the Crystal Rose for my BB&B project.

Unfortunately, even with the reveal delay, I still haven't finished it. Bump is leaving me feeling very uncreative and if I do feel slightly creative my brain seems to be stuck on browsing Ravelry's baby patterns! I wish I could say I've started something there but alas not so far. Anyway, I digress...

I decided I wanted to try and do as much as possible from stash. The only 15s I had at least 20g of were opaque black. So I settled on black and vitrail medium. I had the 3mm bicones but had to buy the big sparkly for the middle. I should have read the pattern more carefully though as I knew I wanted to make a hair ornament so wouldn't be needing the necklace rope so I didn't actually need 20g, more like 10g probably. I chose a crown stone from Crystals and Ice rather than using the button crystal used in the pattern as I didn't like the look of seeing the button hole through the crystal.

I found the pattern ok to follow but I'm not sure a beginner would find it easy. Sonoko includes several rows/steps in each diagram so it is quite easy to get a little confused unless you have a good idea where you're going anyway. I did think that my stone would not fit into the bezel as I was making it but it all came together nicely in the end. So the central part is done but I'm currently working on the crocheted tube for the flower petals. If you don't bead crochet, don't despair though. Looking closely at the picture on the hair comb little example picture it looks to me that the petals rope has been done in herringbone stitch. Obviously you would need to do a round of 6 or 8 beads instead of 7 as in the crochet though. It should still be flexible enough to knot as in the pattern. My rope is currently over half done I think.

I'd love to get this finished soon although its a bit boring now crocheting many tiny black beads and 15s grow soooooo much slower than 11s! Here it is so far.

One day/year/decade when I'm back to creating for me I would love to do a few more of the projects from this book. There are quite a few pretty, smallish ropes. Much more my style than enormous, heavily decorated ones. I especially like the Sonoko Spiral, Sonoko Wave, Aurora, Midnight and Powder Snow. Quite a few for my to-do list then! Quite a few projects in the book are adaptations of spiral rope and many are very sparkly, good for busting crystal stash, but bad for the bank balance if you don't have much of a crystal stash like me.
Hopefully soon I'll be able show you a beautiful sparkly new hair comb....having said that, how many of my unfinished BB&B projects have I actually gotten round to finishing?...Ummmm....maybe I should have a dedicated finish-off-BB&B-projects week/month!
 I do have the book that's next in the series for OTTBS BB&B but I am going to stop for a little bit. Not because I don't want to join in, I love doing this, but because I don't want to set myself too many deadlines as a combination of baby brain, exhaustion, sickness etc is completely sapping my creativity. Don't forget to check out the OTTBS blog though each month if you want to keep up with what others are doing for BB&B.
Oh and why not stop by the BB&B reveal for Japanese Beadwork to see what others have done from this lovely book.

Friday, 1 March 2013

February Crafting

Ummmm....nothing at all! I can now share with you my excuse though. Remember I said I have been somewhat poorly? Well, its dragging on somewhat but for a very exciting reason. Major creation on the way, due around 11th September. :o)

I am starting to feel a little better now (I'm 12 weeks) so hopefully I'll be up to creating again very soon. I may even do some beading today, though I am feeling a little queasy at the minute. Better get back on the earring case too. I'm massively behind now, ooops!

Happy March everyone. Hope you're all as happy as I am (hugging toilet incidences aside).