Friday, February 24, 2017

A good design doesn't have to be complicated.

We all have a different way of looking at things due to our different backgrounds. Our preferences, age, education, environment, life... all these things influence our designs. With beads and thread, designers re-invent a use nobody thought of before, which is truly fascinating. Of course, it can happen that shaped beads are used in a similar manner by beaders and result in design collision. Which is never funny, but as we say, great minds think alike.

When I received the lovely Arkos beads by Puca to play with, they had already hit the market, in particular in Europe. So I looked a bit at what had already been done, and found many, many beautiful designs (there is so much talent out there, starting with Puca herself). But surprisingly not the simple one I had in mind. I might have missed it, so if you have made this design before, please let me know).

What I was very excited about is that it gave me the opportunity to finally use the camelia buttons I fell in love with some time ago. They are enamelled and heavy, which is good in this case, because they remain under the wrist and show the beautiful gold beads always on top. The gold finish being fragile, this will prevent them from rubbing on tables and desks.

I also like the contrast brought by the white pearls, which are added using Diamond Weave in variation 2 and the instructions on how to make a buttonhole. This is all explained in my book about Diamond Weave.

I really love the way the beads allow to create a scale pattern. I have this thing with gold fishes and dragon scales, you know, and I like a touch of deco and retro. It looks very beautiful on the wrist.

And you know what? It is so simple to make that I made a little diagram for you to play with yourself. You will probably need to adapt the bead count and clasp attachment, which is a bit tricky, but I am sure that you will succeed.

So voilà, here are the diagrammes for you to make your own De'Koi:

Have fun!
And if you want more designs by me, you can also visit my Etsy or Craftsy shops, 
or buy my book. Your support is much appreciated.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Free Diamond Weave Patterns!

My epicondylitis issues - which lasted during several months (because it is so easy to put the fault on fibromyalgia, my doctor didn't worry much about it) - made me stop beading with beads and thread, but my brain continued. I made a lot of graphs of what came up in my beady brain during and after the writing of my book Diamond Weave. Each time I looked at the white graph paper, I 'saw' lines. Curves. Flowers. Fabric. Animals and insects. Because I needed to make space in my head for other things, I created these graphs for others to play with.
Free patterns available on the Facebook book page

Most of these patterns are inspired by textiles. Woven textiles and printed textiles, like the beautiful repetitive patterns made in Japan. I love these very much for their simple elegance. The more I drew, the more came up. Eddie at its hyperst! He must have heard beaders asking for more patterns with seed beads only in magazines...

The result is a nice bundle of patterns. It took approx. 3 months to create them all. You can download them by clicking on the photo on the image on the right. I haven't uploaded all the patterns yet, but this might already keep you busy, or inspire you.

You can bead a sampler with plenty of different elements assembled the way you prefer - just like samplers made with cross-stitch. Both the book and these patterns are meant to boost your creativity!

"Celestial Cuff" - Variation 3 with thread cover beads.
I would have loved to bead all the patterns and write tutorials for them, a little bit like my talented friend Carol Dean Sharpe, who has taken flat peyote stitch to a level of great art with her color choice and beautiful designs. I created one bracelet, "Celestial Cuff" and one amulet bag, "Gate to Paradise" (inspired by the beautiful bronze doors of the Florence Baptistery created by Lorenzo Ghiberti) using some elements shown in these patterns. I also started a third piece, with beautiful antique beads I received from the talented German designer Kris Empting-Obenland, whose work is a delight for the eyes. Alas, my fibro got in the way, and my elbows got worse.

Amulet bag "Gate to Paradise" - Variation 9
It was quite frustrating not being very productive in 2016. Very little beadwork, nearly no patterns... Also, it appeared that working on the computer was actually worse than beading and I should have stopped drawing, writing and browsing. Fortunately, something strange happened: I had to take antibiotics (for other reasons), which appeared to help the tendons a real lot! The doctor still has no answer for that, but am very happy to feel better.

I will soon add more patterns to the Diamond Weave Facebook album There are still lots of graphs for you to discover in addition to what is there. I'm sure that you will find something that you like, and welcome photos of your beautiful work!

Flower sampler - Variation 9 with thread cover beads WIP

I stood away from the computer as much as possible and finished the Toho Challenge, which was great fun, but challening! I love challenges like this. It was very stimulating. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to show anything now. The great reveal will take place in Milwaukee during the Bead and Button Show. I can't wait to see other beaders' creations. Note that it will be the first time that one of my creations will be shown at Bead & Button Show, which thrills me.

And if you don't have the book Diamond Weave yet, I hope that you will buy it. It is a great book. You don't need to believe me: just read the reviews posted on Amazon!

Thank you for reading me and Happy Beading!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bead & Jewellery Magazine Interview

Do you remember that Bead & Jewellery - which is a great UK & US beading magazine - published an interview with me back in April 2016?

I now may share the article with you! You can also download the 2 pdf's from this link (better resolution):

With many thanks to Katie Dean and Brita Moore!

I hope that you will enjoy the read!

Love to all!

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Double TINGBY, multi-position coffee table - an IKEA hack

by C & C Thomas

I do not only exercice my creativity in beading. I also cook and try lots of new recipes, have birds, fish, and plants. The apartment is not big, so we need creative solutions, which also takes thinking from time to time. Nearly all my furniture comes from IKEA.

Unfortunately, for the coffee table I had needs that they didn't meet. Other manufacturers didn't either. We wanted to be able to use the table for every day stuff, and in the evening, eat something on it without having plenty of things to (re)move: flowers, tablet, decorations, papers, magazines... you name it. We tried one LACK after the other, or together. They were either too big or too small. I wanted an extendable coffee table. And it had to be white. A long, frustrating search.

I also tried to design my own table but I was never happy with  it. This until I saw the new TINGBY (article no. 20295925). 
At first sight, TINGBY is not different from other coffee tables. An inert 64x64cm top with storage space below it (there is also a smaller Tingby, 50x50cm). But I immediately knew what I would do with it when I saw it. An extendible/stackable table.

Closed Double Tingby
Open Double Tingby

Differently Open Double Tingby
The only question was: how stable will it be, and what material will I need?
To answer this question, I could count on the best man in the world, my husbest.

Find below how he made my dream coffee table. (en français à la fin de cet article).

You need:

2 TINGBY tables by IKEA (we used the 64x64cm)
1 Pack of FIXA stick-on floor protectors also from IKEA
6x M8 nuts (8mm inside)
3x threaded rods M8 (8mm diameter) each 5cm long
Contact adhesive (strong all purpose glue)
eys, supplied by IKEA with each table.

Put a drop of glue on one end of each threaded rod. Screw a nut on each threaded rod so that half of the nut is still available. Let it dry. While drying, assemble the first table according to the IKEA instructions.

Open the second table package and take out 3 of the 4 wheels.
Insert a drop of glue in the nut and assemble each wheel, using the two keys to tighten. Let dry.

For the 2nd table, put only 3 feet under the table top. Glue 6 small FIXA protections under the top. This will allow the table to slide softly without damaging the top of the table below.
Screw 1 nut onto each rod at approx. 2.7cm of the end.

Screw the wheels under each foot. Do not tighten the nuts. Flip 2nd table (over the first). All FIXA should be in contact with the table below (the wheels should not touch the ground yet). Adjust their height starting with the first wheel, then the middle one, then the third. Have the wheels touch the ground without lifting the top. Tip: Use your other hand to hold both table tops tight. Once everything is even and straight, tighten the nuts.

And that's it! Enjoy your Double TINGBY.  

Careful: even though the tri-pod table can stand alone, it is highly recommended to not use this table if you have young children, unless you add something to prevent the top from sliding off the one below.

I have given this issue some thought. I think that a retractable button at the corner of the table top below (with a spring inside) designed to fit it the hole left by the missing foot in the top of the second table would be an interesting solution, but this means that the table top of the first table has to be opened somehow. I didn't want to risk this because I am happy with my table like this, but if you try making something like this, I'd love to hear from you. Note: like LACK, the table top is primarely a hollow struct.


*** Français***

Il vous faut

2 tables TINGBY (ici le format 64x64cm a été utilisé)
6 ecrous M8 (8mm)
3 tiges filtées M8 (8mm) de 5 cm de long
FIXA - protège-sols de chez IKEA
Colle de contact
2 clefs pour serrer les écrous (1 fournie avec chaque table)

Mettez une goutte de colle sur un bout de chaque tige filtée. Vissez un écrou sur chaque tige filtée de façon à avoir la moitié de l'écrou encore disponible. laissez sécher.

Assemblez la première table selon les instructions IKEA.

Ouvrez l'emballage de la deuxième table. Sortez 3 des 4 roues.
Inserez une goutte de colle dans chaque écrou sur tige filtée et assemblez chaque roue, utilisant le deux clefs pour pouvoir bien serrer. laissez sécher.

Pour la 2ème table, ne mettez que 3 pieds sous le plateau supérieur.

Collez les FIXA de petit diamètre pour permettre au plateau de dessus de glisser sur le plateau de dessous.
Vissez un écrou sur chaque tige de façon à env. 2,7cm du bout

Vissez les roues sous chaque pied. Ne serrez pas les écrous.

Renversez la 2ème table sur la première. la deuxième doit appuyer sur la première et les roues ne doivent pas toucher le sol. Ajuster/baissez les roues pour qu'elles touchent le sol sans soulever le plateau en commençant par la première, puis celle du milieu, puis la troisième. Astuce: aidez vous de votre main libre pour serrer les deux plateaux l'un contre l'autre. Une fois que tout est bien droit, serrez les écrous.

Avertissement: non indiqué pour famille avec jeunes enfants, à moins de rajouter un système de sécurité empêchant le plateau de dessus de s'écarter trop de la table de dessous.

J'ai d'ailleurs réfléchi à cette question. Je pense qu'un bouton rétractable au coin du plateau de la première table (avec un ressort à l'intérieur) adapté au trou laissé par le pied manquant dans le plateau de la deuxième table serait une solution intéressante, mais cela signifie que le dessus de la première table doit être perforé d'une manière ou d'une autre. Je ne voulais pas risquer cela parce que je suis contente de ma table telle quelle, mais si vous essayez de faire quelque chose comme ça, j'aimerais beaucoup avoir de vos nouvelles. Note: comme LACK, la structure est essentiellement creuse.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Leaf - a long DIP (Design in Progress)

Alain de Botton, a UK-based Swiss writer and philospher wrote: "For us to deem a work of architecture elegant, it is not enough that it look simple: we must feel that the simplicity it displays has been hard won...

It is my hope that this comes to mind when looking at my latest necklace, The Leaf.

Because some designs look really simple once they're finished, many think that it was easy. But the road leading to it was not necessarily simple or easy. This article is about the design process for this necklace. I took plenty of photos and made notes to write this post to show it to you. You will see that this design was not just made with Dimensional Peyote and Diamond Weave, but also with a looooot of frog stitch.

First Trapezino
I made this design for the annual International Bead Award (IBA), a beading contest organized by Perlen Poesie, a beautiful Magazine printed in Germany. In can only recommend it: it is very beautiful with many interesting projects and articles, and in this month's issue, the wonderful, incredibly talented Claudia Cattaneo is in the spot light.

The IBA contest is theme-based, this year Art Deco - Clean Lines / Simple Sophistication. I immediately started dreaming of beading something with Trapezino shapes, because I had made a deco-ish pendant with it already, which I really love. So I beaded and beaded Trapezinos and when I had a good pile of them I started playing with them. I also bought special hexagonal findings, which I included and assembled but nothing worked the way I wanted. It became quite a quest. A lot of frogstitching later, I decided to draw various necklaces with a software because beading this much was asking my arms too much. See the sketches with some annotations  below.

I like to put jewelry around
my neck when making it,
and ask hubby if he likes it.
Drawing with software does not necessarily translate into success, but it helps rejecting options. I put it all aside during a couple of months. After that, I came back to the Trapezinos with a fresh spirit, which resulted in something completely different and surprisingly beautiful: put in a certain sequence, a leaf became suddenly visible in the negative space between the shapes. I fell in love. Finally! It is necessary to fall in love with a design for a contest, at least for me: if it is not selected in the finals, I'm still happy with what I made, and the time invested is not regretted.

Already with nothing added, it was beautiful. With beautiful focals or pendants I find it more challenging to add material. I really wanted the leaf to stand out, but of course needed to add some 'sophistication' to the 'simple'.

What now?
Too crowded fringe....
First I added the pearl collar, using Diamond Weave. I think that DW creates a very beautiful, sleek look. I redid the band later to make button holes for the 'two-button' clasp. Then I added an extra row of Fire-polished beads for more color.


I thought of adding fringe, of course. Art Deco tassles are famous. But I was unhappy with the fringe - either it was too crowded with pearls, or not enough strands could be added (read: more frogstitching). A great tip from Diane Hyde is to print several copies of the photo of a necklace to see how it looks (photos reveal designing mistakes). I simply drew on the photos to see what I could add to the necklace. This is a
I decided to frame the leaf with a stylish, open lotus petal structure and to add fringe to the clasp.

Left and right with different
Briolettes? - No,
This part got frogstitched several times too, even one time because I made it intentionally "wrong": see the photo left: there is a a different left and right part, to see what would look best.

To see how a necklace drapes and how teardrops would look, and have a better sense of size, I like to work on a bust of my neck-size and use pins.

For a harmonious curve, the bottom 'leaf' became pretty long, and so I had to find something to fill that big empty space... I  tried to add a variety of drops/briolettes but found them to take away interest from the leaf.

Reversed pear?
What to add?
a V point? oh no, no, no...

Finding the right solution to
finish a design as hoped
is a source of great joy.
The front was nearly finished, but I really couldn't think of an acceptable finishing touch. That are moments where I can be pretty rude with Eddy, my muse. Forntunately, he (inspiration) came back quite fast under the form of a repetition of the arcs above!

And so voilà: the front was done.

To create a beautiful fringe,
a triangle with another leaf in
the negative space was added.

Then the clasp: a fringe hanging from a diamond was ok from an 'interspace' point of view, but the central diamond didn't offer many places to attach the strands.

I created an "obtuse isoceles", a triangle wider then high, also with a leaf design (trefoil) in the negative space. Each 'button' is attached to the two top points of the triangle.

I am very happy with this design. It is part of the nominees in the contest in company of very beautiful beadwork made by amazingly talented beaders:

I think that it looks great on me, but even more so on Fanny, who is a young nurse who works at the clinic where I have physiotherapy every week. Fanny accepted to model the necklace:

For the attribution of the public prize, you can vote for this necklace - and for other desighs - here:

Monday, September 5, 2016

Soul work

One day, very early in the morning, I was up before all the others at home and sat on the ground, on the carpet where I used to play with my brothers, somewhere between the dining table and the living room.

Pink Lillies
I was about 5 or 6 years old and sat there, looking at beautiful pink lilies in a vase near the carpet, one big flower bud right in front of my face. And suddenly, right before my eyes wide open of surprise, the flower opened up. Slowly, but steadily. It opened as if it had been waiting for me to say hello.

I will never forget it. It was so beautiful that it was life changing. That day the nature and animal lover in me awakened. It is probably also part of the reason why I founded the Facebook Group "From Petal to Pod".

Before I became light intollerant (lamps of all sorts, sun, electrosmog, etc.) I worked for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. I was happy to do something for my planet, for Mother Nature.

Locked up at home, watching days go by, I felt totally useless. Fortunately, beading prevented me from going nuts, but still... I didn't want to be useless. The question "what can I do to fulfill my soul's unique purpose" remained.

Jane Goodall

Then, earlier this year, I saw this quote by Jane Goodall:
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
Jane's quote woke me up. It is not necessary to be a super hero. I may be locked up because of my light intollerance, but still can do some things in addition to recycling everything that can be recycled. We all love Mother Nature, but often we don't know what to do to help her. The answer is: help those who help Mother Nature. I thought: I can bead, bead as only I can bead and sell what I make to raise funds.

Jane Goodall Pendant
with Gorilla bead up
Jane Goodall Pendant
with doll head up
So here is the result: a beaded sculpture / pendant / toy to raise funds. The proceeds will go to the Jane Goodall Institute. It is listed in my Etsy shop and entered in the Etsy Beadweavers' Team Challenge of September, which theme is "Our Wonderful World". Because our world, our planet, IS wonderful and worth every effort, small and big.

I also designed a little bumblebee to raise funds for Planet Bee. Because bees are dying worldwide at an worrying pace, and even though most countries have their food and drug security agencies who worry about bees, it is important that other organizations and foundations spread their knowledge and focus on subjects which are often not taken into consideration by governmental agencies.

Beaded Bumblebee
Tutorial in favor of Planet Bee

Planet Bead helping Planet Bee. Doesn't it sound wonderful?