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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

ABC's of Creativity - Z is Zing

We have finally reached the end of our creative journey thru the alphabet. We started with A is Art and are ending with Z is Zing.

Zing is defined as vitality, zest or a quality or characteristic that excites the interest or enthusiasm (from

Creatively zing could be the finding of that one color that will make you finished project different and special.  Here is an original variation of Julia Pretl's vase, with a matte olive green leaf color. The new variation I switched many colors including the leaf color to a silver lined lawn green. The use of the contasting purple for the flowers gives the new vase another needed zing.
Original variation, beaded by J. Woolverton
Revised variation, beaded by J. Woolverton

During her recent visit to Ukraine Maria met up with a fellow beader, Iryna Berdal-Shewchuk, who uses ndebele stitch with zing.  Here are some of her necklaces made with ndebele stitched beaded beads.
Assorted beaded bead necklaces, beaded by I. Berdal-Shewchuk

She also has an amazing way to share her creations with the world. She created this wonderful video showing her necklaces artistically arranged on the interesting and unusual manhole covers in Lviv.

Inspired by Iryna's use the ndebele stitch, Maria started to play with this stitch with zing. She played with variations of a basic motif to create this beaded bracelet. Maria will be teaching this new project at beadFX on Tuesday January 28.
Variation in ndebele, beaded by M. Rypan

Finished bracelet, beaded by M. Rypan
I hope that this past year Maria and I have inspired you to try something new with the same zing that Maria did after her visit with Iryna.

Maria and I have enjoyed taking on this creative journey thru the alphabet this year. In January we will each share some of our favourite posts.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and creative New Year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ABC's of Creativity - Y is Yarn

Yarn is defined as a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable to use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving. Since I’m approaching this from the beading angle, I’d like to present a few examples of how yarn is used as the carrier of beads and show a few examples of how the combination works. 
"Bobbles by the Yard" by Flo FLory
Project in A Needle Pulling Thread, Summer 2011

I’ve been told the beads have to be put onto the yarn before beginning to knit or crochet. This is something that needs to be prepared in advance. You can use and finer thread and needle to hook your yarn into a folded knotted thread OR use a split needle to catch the yarn and string seed beads for your project.
"Threading beads", Knitting with Beads,
VOGUE Knitting has an excellent intro to Knitting With Beads. There are two ways: random or planned placement called “beaded knitting” where the beads fall over the stitches rather than between them. There's the stockinette and the slip stitch method for single beads embellishment of knitting.
"From the wrong side", Kntting with Beads,
'From the right side", Knitting with Beads,
The other was is ”bead knitting” where the beads are placed between each stitch for a solid beaded look. I haven't found a video tutorial on bead knitting. Guess you'll need to take a class with Flo and learn from a master.

Knitting with beads was developed in the 18th and 19th centuries and used for purses of other elaborately decorated items. It’s called “bead knitting” or “purse knitting”. It is created by placing on bead between each stitch, so that the knitting stitches are completely hidden by beads. Intricate patterns can be created in bead knitting by threading beads in reverse of the design which  must be completely accurate.

"Hearts", knitted reticule by Flo Flory, ON
I have had an opportunity to get a closer look and feel at Bead Knitting through fellow Toronto Bead Society member, Flo Flory’s work. Flo designs and teaches bead knitting and was kind enough to come over with her beadwork when I was preparing an inspirational visual presentation, “Beadwork: The Most Versatile Art Form” in Oct. 2011. Better yet, it was great when we were able to pass around her finished knitting work during my presentation. Folks got to feel how soft and fluid the purses and accessories were. The larger the piece, the heavier it gets because uses glass Czech see beads for knitting. Haven't found a video tutorial on bead knitting. Guess you'll need to take a class with Flo and learn from a master.

"Looped Evening Bag" bead knitted bag with bead trim, 2011
by Flo Flory, ON 
"Sea Breeze  Bag & Bracelet, bead knitted bag and bracelet
by Flo Flory, ON
Project in A Needle Pulling Thread, Summer 2007
'Houndstooth" bead knitted zipper case, 2008
by Flo Flory, ON
"Magic Tube Necklace", bead knitted
by Flo Flory, ON
Beaded Tie, bead knitted by Flo Flory, ON
(l.-r.) "Teddy Bead,, 2005, TIe and Beaded Star, 2010r,
all bead knittedby Flo FLory, ON

There are a lot of video tutorials on adding a few beads here and there. See Theresa Grisnati’s tutorial of how to add a single bead into your knitting by using a crochet hook as a tool to add beads as you are about to for the knit stitch.

Theresa Grisnati, knit hat with bead embellishment. See youtube video

Bead can we used as trim in a knitted piece. There are many different technique for effects, but single space aout beads are the simplest embellishment. 

Beads and yarn also go together in crochet. My sister-in-law Lynn Wasylkevych crochets with beads on yarns for a soft hand and on wire for a harder edge where the beads appear to float, but that’s a different story.

"Winter on the Blue Ridge", by Lynn Wasylkevych, NC,
for a competition at a Bead Society, 2009

Detail of "WInter on the Blue Ridge". Crocheted base with wire crochet trim.
"Green Apples", bead crochet bracelet
by Lynn Wasylkevych, NC, 2009
Hope this blog gives you an appreciation of how well beads and yarn go together. It's yet another great way to show a little creativity.

Happy beading,

Monday, December 2, 2013

ABC's of Creativity - X is eXtra

Whether you are working on a personal project for yourself, a special commission for a customer or a gift for someone special you can create a piece that is just ordinary or give it something eXtra special.

Here are some way in which beaders have added that something eXtra.

The addition of this beautiful heart shaped closure makes this piece a wonderful necklace as an anniversary design for the 25th fall Creativ festival in 2012.
Chic Chevron Collar, beaded by J. Woolverton

Crafting your own closure will ensure that your piece is one of a kind. Here Kathy Foernzler not only added her handcrafted closure but also the added sparkle of Swarovski dangles.
Beaded by K. Foernzler

What to do with those few beads remaining at the end of a design? Here a dangle is add to this fire-polish crystal and pearl Little Black Necklace, it is the finishing touch.
Beaded by J. Woolverton

Here again I had one left over stone ring, the dangle echoes the pattern of the necklace.
Sodalite Necklace, beaded by J. Woolverton

This piece was commissioned by a young lady for her graduation. The classic netted collar has the eXtra special addition of a looped edge and the simple chain (as an extender) with a loop on the end. 
Looped Net Collar, beaded by J. Woolverton

For this project I wanted to have a versatile necklace. It is long enough to use for wear a badge at a show. It can also be wrapped twice around my neck to become chocker length. The Swaroski crystal cubes and focal closure are the star of the design. They are front and centre when wearing as a chocker. They are to one side when wearing a long badge holder.
Diagonal Weave, beaded by J. Woolverton

Here is another eXtra special versatile design. It can worn with or without the pendant. For this vintage lucite project I wanted to use as many of the beads I was given as possible. 
Beaded by J. Woolverton

Another way to add that eXtra something to project to to make it a set, with either earrings or a bracelet.

When my co-worker, Carrie, was leaving our branch I wanted to make her something special. Using Rose Alabaster bicone I made this scalloped lace necklace as seen in the December 2008 Bead & Button magazine. There was no earrings with the original project, but I wanted to have a complete set to give Carrie. A pattern for another designer worked well with the necklace.
Scalloped lace & earrings, beaded by J. Woolverton

Here Maria's Netted X's and O's collar has the added eXtra earrings for a complete set.
Beaded by M. Rypan

I had to resize a necklace I had made a few years earlier for a friend. I remade a smaller String Quartet collar, as designed by Melanie Potter. With the left over beads I made a bracelet that matched the clusters of pearls in the necklace. My friend was surprised by the eXtra bracelet when I returned the necklace.
String Quartet, beaded by J. Woolverton
Quarted bracelet, beaded by J. Woolverton
I hope that you will be inspired to add that eXtra special touch to a project. 

Happy Beading!

Monday, November 18, 2013

ABC's of Creativity - W is Wire

In the beading world wire can be divided into two categories; beading wire and wire work wire. Each has its own terminology and techniques.

Let's look at beading wire first. Beading wire is usually a cable of steel strands encased in a plastic coating. It is mainly used for bead string projects. There are two sizing numbers relating beading wire. The first is the diameter of the wire noted as a decimal in inches (eg. .010 in.). The smaller the number the finer the wire. The second number is the number of strands in the cable. The higher the number the stronger the wire.

from Soft Flex
Working with beading wire requires a few more tools that needles and scissors. You will need something to cut the wire; wire cutters or nail clippers (my preferred tool). To secure the finishing of a strung project you will likely use crimp beads or tubes. These malleable beads when crimped with crimpers or pliers hold two or more pieces of wire together.

There is beading wire that is flexible enough to be knotable. This will allow you to use it like thread on project that need the strength and durability of beading wire. Maria uses this type of wire in her snowflake ornament.
Snowflake ornament, beaded by M. Rypan

Sara Oehler from Soft Flex has a great blog with lots of tips and projects using Soft Flex beading wire.

Before looking at wire work wire, there is one other wire used for stringing. This is memory wire, it is unique for the way the wire is created. It is hardened steel which keeps it shape. Because of this property finishing a project is difficult. You can use pliers the fold over the ends but it can be a frustrating task. The other option is to glue on a finishing bead.
Memory wire

Now on to wire work wire. Personally I don't do much of this kind of work, but I have tired it.
Wrapped Heart Ring, by J. Woolverton

Let's take a look at the teminology of this wire.

Dead-soft- softest on the hardening scale for wire. Very pliable, so finished piece could be bent out of shape is not handled with care.
Half hard - is stiffer that dead-soft. Still workable and will hold shapes and bends formed in pieces.
Hard - stiffest wire. Shapes with stay permenently with this wire.
Round - most common shape of wire.
Half-round & square - shaped wire for different needs and design possibilities.
Gauge - this is the size of the wire. The higher the number the finer the wire.

There are also a multitude of tools for this type of work; pliers - basic chain nose, flat nose and round nose, specialty tools - sliding pin vise, 3 stepped pliers, double barrel pliers, 3 stepped square tip pliers, ring mandrel and of course flush cutters. Here is a link to a free e-book from Jewelry Making Daily about jewelry making tools.

Basic wire work is worth learning to expand you creative possibilities. Here is a great collection of basic techniques for beaders from Fusion Beads. For more advance techniques check Art Jewelry's collection of tips and a variety of free projects.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for wire and creating with it. Check out what you can find on Pinterest. Hope that you will try something different with wire soon!

Happy Beading (with wire)!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ABC's of Creativity - V is Venetian

Just as I was about to write about Venetian beads from the historical point of view, Stefani Ogden of Bead Den at the TBS Bead Fair  gave me a quick lesson on contemporary Murano beads. 
Selection of Venetian beads at Bead Den at TBS Bead Fair, 2013 
Murano glass is known around the world for its beauty and clarity. Venetian bead making dates back to early 1300s when beads were produced by hand with the famous Moretti glass. These beads became known worldwide as Venetian Beads.  
(l). Blown Venetian beads; (r.) double blown beads.
Orchid glass pendant.
Several glassmaking techniques such as millefiori (thousand flowers), sommerso (submerged), filigrana (threads of different colours), frit (tiny pieces of crushed glass and aventurina (goldstone) have been developed over the centuries and the bead makers of today use the same techniques as were used in the 11th Century.  Genuine Venetian/Murano beads are made by hand using fine quality materials such as 24 carat gold, .925 sterling silver as well as Moretti glass.
Geometric Foil collection. 24K gold and .925 sterling silver is used in Murano beads
Pendant with 24K foil and millefiori fish
Twisted beads with 24K gold
Pendants with frit, 24K gold. Teardrop pendant.

Red Murano beads with 24K. Some gold is added to make the red colour.
(top) Heart pendants with millefiore; (lower) Frit aand fused pendants

Klimt-style Murano beads with 24K gold
  Sommerso floral garden beads
Murano beads with large holes for sliding over bracelets.
Mini Murano teardrop pendants
This Murano teardrop pendant with 24K was stamped MURANO 
The name MURANO is stamped into hot glass of larger, thicker pieces.

From the historic side, Chevron beads were created by the end of the 14th century. Venetian chevron beads are drawn beads, made from glass canes, which are shaped using specifically constructed star moulds. The first chevron beads consisted of 7 layers of alternating colours. They usually have 6 facets. By the beginning of the 20th century, 4 and 6-layer chevron beads appear on various sample cards. Read more about how the layers are created, colours and  how pattern is exposed. 

Early small Venetian chevrons, circa 16th century 
Chevron beads can be composed of a varied number of consecutive layers of colored glasses. The initial core is formed from a molten ball of glass (called a "gather") that was melted in a furnace. If the glassworker is making beads, an air bubble is blown into the center of the gather via a blowpipe, thus creating an opening, the future bead's perforation. 

Chevron Venetian Six Layer Trade Beads Big Africna, late 1800's early 1900'x

When making solid multilayered cane intended to be used for decorating millefiori beads no air bubble is inserted. The gather (with the air bubble in its center) is plunged into a star-shaped mould, which can have anywhere between five and fifteen points. Several layers of glass can be applied, returning to the mould as desired, to create either a star-shaped or smooth effect for each layer. 

Most of the Venetian chevron beads made for export to West Africa and to the Americas have layers in red, blue, and white. A smaller number of chevron beads were produced with other colors such as green, black and yellow. Venetian chevron beads have been traded throughout the world, most heavily in West Africa. These beads are referred to as "trade" beads. While researching this topic, it's amazing how many Venetian chevron and millefiori are out there for sale through E-bay. Some asking prices seem amazing, but adds to the appreciation of how precious Venetian beads are.

Millefiori is an Italian word meaning " a thousand flowers".  Millefiori beads are also known as "mosiac" beads throughout the world.  The making of millefiori beads is a two step process.  First the murrine or cane is made and then these are applied to a molten wound glass core and made into beads. 

Illustration of steps for making Millefioeri beads

Millefiori pendants. (top) flat matter millefiori pendant. See Murano label below
Murano Label on back of flat millefiori pendant
Venetian bead were very highly prized world-wide. They made their way to Ukraine and were strung and finished off with a “chepraha”, a unique metal clasp. By our standards, it may seem oversize, but it was used exclusively with Venetian beads. Status was shown by how many strand and styles of beads were worn for holidays. The more strands of beads, “korail”, pearls, “zgardy”, metal crosses or coins, the higher the status of the girl. This was especially evident on bridal wear, the fanciest variation of the local folk costume with unique headdresses.
Hutsul bride wearing 5 strings of Venetian beads amongst a beadwoven 'sylianka' choker, 'zgardy' with coins', 'korali'  with metal beads, 2006
Nat. Museum of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttya, Kolomyya, Ukraine
Venetian bead necklaces catalogued in the 3rd floor collection of the
Nat. Museum of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttya, Kolomyya, Ukraine, 2006
Seed bead 'gerdan' and metal 'zgardy" necklace from Western Ukraine.
Two strings of Venetian beads; lower string are "wedding cake" beads.
On display at Museum of Decorative Folk Arts, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2013
Hutsul metal crosses strung between Venetian beads.
Since they are so prized, the beads are carefully placed in the design.
Kosiv Museum, Ukraine, 2011
Check out the incredible Venetian beads out there! Surf the net and be amazed by the variety of Trade and Millefiori beads from the past and marvel at the prices they're fetching.  

Better yet, pick up a contemporary Murano bead and create your masterpiece.

Photos of Bead Den's Murano Beads: Maria Rypan

Happy beading,