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?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hana thread review.

Hana Thread
Hi there!

So there is a new beading thread out there, Hana thread, for us beadweavers, and people are
searching for reviews. I answered to a question in a group on Facebook about it and thought that you might like to learn more about it too.
Here is what I think about it after using it in two projects.
(Note that I am not sponsored by one brand or another.)

To me, Hana thread seems to be nearly the same as KO thread and I love KO.
KO seems to have a (very little) bit more wax on it than Hana, but this seems to vary according to the batches. I like the little bit more wax when it is there.

Both threads are nice for bead weaving and bead embroidery. 
Both threads aren't too slippery and have the same resistance to abrasion. It is not like Fireline, it can fray, in particular when frog-stitching. When you frog stitch, better cut it and use a new thread.
KO thread
Tangling / untangling / unwelcome knots: can happen, are not a big issue, and seem to be the same for both threads. (It is probable that I am the main factor for this rather than the thread).
Even if it seems to be a twisted thread, to me Hana seems to be flat like KO. 
Hana stretches less than KO, but still can be stretched a little bit. (But because I always "unstretch" my thread before beading, the result is that there is little bit more thread in 50' KO than in 50' Hana.)
I was amazed how easily one can thread a needle onto Hana thread. Record breaking fast. If you struggle with threading, Hana is the thread for you.
Hana colors are really very bright, strong, which doesn't suit all projects.

The Hana bobbin has a great edge to block the thread in (fantastic) but is a bit too big to my taste... Mini bobbins like Nymo would be more practical to take with the beads in a little tin or bead buddy. Big bobbins only take up more space in the tool box.
I haven't been obliged to untwist my thread with needle more with one thread than the other.

I will use both brands with pleasure.

Happy Beading!


FYI: KO has recently added more colors, including a very welcome-in-my-stash-light-green, seen that I still make petals for the petal to pod project).

New KO colors

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Stitch story

Do you know Geneviève Liebaert?

If you know chenille stitch, then you should know her, because she is the
Chenille ropes
designer who invented this lovely technique. But I don't think that many of you do know her.

The 'Chenille spiral', which is the original name of this creation, is
a lovely design and the variations suggested by Geneviève in her little tutorial, recommending the use of other seed bead sizes and/or types, consequently are her designs. The frontier between technique and design are a bit unclear sometimes. And techniques can normally not be copyrighted - they can be protected if the process is really very complicated, with specific step-by-step intstructions... Where the level of complication lies or how many steps are necessary to make a technique eligible to be protected is a mystery...

Back in the days where 2 huge francophone fora were counting more than a thousand beaders connected every evening, sharing their tips, patterns and designs with fellow beaders for free, Geneviève was one of the best, most talented designers, admired under the name Sereine. She wrote her tutorials for all to use for free, but asked for credit and a little "thank you" on her blog. It was all for the love of beading. Free doesn't mean that there is no copyright. She didn't want her work to be used by shops to sell beads, but of course shops benefited massively from her inventiveness and patterns, because the number of seed bead weavers increased drastically during these days of beadevolution. However, not only did Sereine's work get used without credit or thanks, but some, when asked, pretended that the design was theirs, and some even sold her patterns in their shops. After many hopeless attempts to "educate" them a bit, Sereine stopped beading. That day, we lost a treasure of a designer in the battle of good against evil.

She took her tutorials away from her blog, but left them on the forum "Ile aux Perles". Sadly, that website got destroyed several years ago in a mega cyber attack on the American servers where it was hosted. Because there was no backup, years of knowledge and designs had gone in an instant.

Sereine's website and blog still exist, but are not updated anymore. There are very little tutorials written by her still visible on the Internet, and if it wasn't for those who saved a pattern and re-hosted it, like the one linked to above, there would be no trace of her work.

Chenille stitch, however, became very popular, and this thanks to Sara Spoltore, who mentions that she thought of it herself, but she credits Sereine (aka Geneviève), as the first inventor of it, which is class. But now, when people make a Chenille rope, it is the one who posted the latest video gone viral who is thanked...  Below is Sara's video.

For those who wonder, Chenille means caterpillar in French, but it is the result of a brilliant Belgian beady brain. If another beader had invented this rope in another corner of the world, this rope would probably not have kept the name it had initially been given, so somehow, there is a bit of legacy.

Beadwork made with
Albion Stitch
For that is what happens with techniques. They one day are invented by brilliant persons, become popular, and in the end the persons who developed it are forgotten... It lasts only as long as the names of the inventors are mentioned.

If the stitch isn't given the name of the inventor(s), only the name of the technique will be remembered, like peyote stitch, which is the name of the stitch created by Native Americans to create beautiful adornments for their celebrations involving the use of a cactus of the same name.

"Ndebele stitch" which is still used for herringbone stitch, reminds of the tribe where the stitch was invented initially, but this tends to be forgotten.

Beadwork made with
Hubble stitch
The origins of Right Angle Weave are forgotten. It seems to be attributed to
Africa, but I am inclined to think that it is originating from Asia, somewhere in China, seen that there are extremely old beadwoven soldier's coats made with bamboo beads in musea there, made with this stitch.

Zulu stitch and Pondo stitch still have the name of their native tribes in Africa. St. Petersburg stitch is clearly mentioning that it's origin is Russian.

For how long will people remember that Hubble stitch was created and
developed by Melanie de Miguel? That Albion stitch was invented by Heather Kingsley Heath? That Gerlinde Lenz created and developed "Rautenstich" (Diamond Weave)? Will people remember them as English, or European, or German? If I am not mistaking, Albion is an old name for the Island of England, so that might well help finding back its origin in the future... and only the future will tell. It is my wish that many will remember their names.

Beadwork made with Diamond Weave

And that is why I wanted to write this post: to honor all inventors of beading techniques which bring us so much creative joy, and to say


for your gift to planet bead.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Etsy Bead Weavers (EBW) Spring Swap 2016

I participated in the Spring Swap organized by the Etsy Beadweavers Team, which I'm part of. A swap is something fun and exciting at the same time. One has to make (bead) something for another participant, according to guidelines transmitted by EBW leader Jacquie Champion, who lives in Canada. Swaps are exciting. Beading for another beader without knowing her personally is quite an adventure and expecting a little package from another mystery beader adds even more fun. It was just wonderful to open the little box I received from Erica Sándor. She made a lovely brooch in bronze and pink for me. I love it.

Keeping everything secret during more than 2 months waiting for all the participants to receive their swap was the hardest part for me. It is always difficult to wait to show something we feel proud of.

My "swapee" is the lovely Meg Thomson who lives in Australia. Exactly on the other side of the globe for me - right under my feet. I love how we are connected with friends all over the world thanks to the Internet. Meet Meg and see the beautiful beadwork she makes and sells in her Etsy shop, ABeadedWorld.

Meg said that she likes Victorian and Edwardian jewelry, but... she added that she didn't like chokers... That was challenging, because I love to make chokers, and during these two eras, chokers were legion.

I wanted to make something special and beautiful Meg would love to wear and perhaps even cherish, so I did a bit of research to find out what kind of longer necklaces were fashionable back then. It appeared that besides the simple long pearl strands and fine sautoirs, jewelled tassels were a rage under Edward VII, so I decided to make a tassel for her. But not just any tassel: I included a little perfume bottle; and to 'cathify' the necklace, I used my butterfly rope design. I had great fun. The little bottle was in my stash since a while, waiting to be used in a special design - this was the right occasion!

Edwardian jewelry is often composed of pearls, in combination with diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and other expensive, A+ grade gemstones. I had a hank of lovely sapphire blue faceted crystal beads and matte gold Superduo beads. These two were begging to be associated with something pearlescent, so I chose Preciosa Ornella pearl seed beads.

I started by embellishing the little bottle, which ended up looking like an Edwardian corset. This feminine aspect is enhanced by the lacy, skirt-like tassel.

Seeing the very small cork, I was a bit puzzled. It was not attached or glued to the bottle, and could be lost. To hold it in place and make sure that it would not come off of the flask too easily, I attached a - centered - fringe to it with two strands on the side, and these two strands pass through the double connections of the neck cord, so even if Meg has to run for some reason and the cork comes off, she won't loose it.

In the end, the resulting design looks more Gregorian, or French Louis XIV to me. That made me a bit nervous, but Meg said that she really loves it, so I am happy - and also relieved that this "Philtre Phial" has safely arrived.

Wait a second - I nearly forgot to say that I made it using herringbone (with a bit of Diamond Weave 'hints' to take it further), and MRAW and a little netting.

Take some time to visit our Etsy Beadweavers Team Blog to see all the beautiful pieces made by the participants in this swap, everything is worth seeing, and/or read the impressions of participants on Erika's blog.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bead & Jewellery & more

Unfolding chestnut tree leaves
Spring is extremely lovely here, warm and sunny. It is wonderful to see the trees put on robes of flowers and unfold their leaves. Have you ever looked at a chestnut tree when it opens its leaves? It looks as if all the leaves are folded up and when the weather allows, they unfold like a fan. Fascinating!

The blackbirds sing their courtship songs every morning and every evening and it seems to me that it is more beautiful every year.

It's been a long time since I wrote something here. I was waiting for something special to share with you. What I have to share with you is very special! Look at this:

Interview in Bead & Jewelry!!

I've been interviewed by US-editor Brita Moore from Bead & Jewellery Magazine a couple of months ago, and she wrote not less than a 3-page article about me as a person, a beader, an artist. I am so pleased! It is in issue #70 which has just been added to their website!

DW cascading squares
In collaboration with editor Katie Dean, I also wrote in the "Tips & Tricks" column, as a guest editor, to introduce Diamond Weave to you, including a lovely earring project. The main subject of the magazine was "Something old, something new" and even though this does not necessarily apply to the Tips & Tricks article, I kept it in mind. This pair of shoulder dusters are made with the new 2mm firepolished beads and with old findings I took from a pair of earrings which belonged to my mother. I didn't like the dangles attached to them, but now I'm very happy with the result, and glad to have something to wear that was hers before.

I hope that you will enjoy playing with this introduction to Diamond Weave. It is only basic stitch, which is only a very tiny bit of what the book Diamond Weave has to offer. You can buy the book from major Amazon stores in Northern America and Europe, or directly from the press. If you want to place a group order, you can contact me for a discount, via my Etsy shop or on the DW Facebook page.

Talking about Etsy: they changed many things to our shops and asked me to "relook" it. I had to upload a huge photo for the first page. I don't know if you like it. I also had to choose a logo. I had a logo which is now up there, and I think hat it doesn't look bad. What do you think about it?

I wrote not many tutorials the past months. One using two-whole triangle Kheops beads with Herringbone stitch, the Klapukin bracelet; one for the simple square earrings held by the action figure of my beloved Doctor Who, an introduction to basic Diamond weave; one for the bracelet "Grace", which combines basic Diamond weave and Variation no. 5.

I like how this makes me think of "Chanel #5". The various stitches in the book (so many!) are nearly all building upon the previous ones, and so they are in a logical order. It also allows easier communication between friends who have the book.

I hope to write more tutorials soon, but for now, I am taking a little bit time for myself, to bead 'just to bead', and have quality time with my husband, take care of my birds and home, because tuttifying is a lot of work, and the past 2 years have been nearly exclusively dedicated to the book. I have projects and bits and pieces of beadwork that I left aside, which I would like to finish. Knowing myself, I will probably tutify projects even if I have all these others things on my bucket list...

And of course, there is the "From Petal to Pod" group, counting already more than 600 members! Who knows where that is going to take us!

Diamond Weave

So much to do. So much to learn. So much fun and love to share. 
Life is great!

Happy beading!


Saturday, January 2, 2016

From Petal to Pod

Happy New Year! May 2016 be healthy and bring you lots of joy!!! 

I have a project to start the new year with, and I hope that you will participate in it.

A sampler made by my mother
First a little flash back.
My mom had learned beading very well from her friend Berthy Bijlard, but all I can remember was how to make my own kidney earwires with wire and pliers. And cross-stitching. That, I have never forgotten. I was 14 when I learned this from Berthy. She was an Art Therapist. In fact, I don't know how they called her profession back then, but what I remember is that she had a huge art class in a clinic, where patients could learn painting, knitting, sewing, beading, cross stitching, etc.

A necklace crocheted by my mother
approx 25 years ago, thanks to
Berthy's instructions.
I loved to be at Berthy's home. It was fun and peaceful. Her daughter Lisette and I were best friends and often spent our holidays together. I am grateful beyond words that she welcomed me so often, and for having lit the spark of creativity in me. It has made me a happier person.

I stopped x-stitching when seed beads entered my life, when I saw  Diane Dennis's exquisite Firemountain Gems and Beads 2004 Grand Prize-winning jewelry set. In fact, I loved her beautiful work so much that it made me wish to be able to bead "like that", and so peyote stitch became my first love with seed beads (and pearls).

There weren't many tutorials and beading instructions available, but with a bit of research, I could find the needed instructions published by generous beaders, and with a lot of trial and error I learned the basic off-loom stitches and started exploring my "own inner voice". This is how my Jewelry Set "Roma" (also called "Peeking Pearls") was born, and thanks to this design I had the incredible honor to be the winner of the Grand Prize of the Firemountain Gems and Beads contest myself in 2006.

With peyote stitch, seed beads fall into place very naturally and the beadwork can be zipped easily. I prefer shapes with an even number of increases (or peaks or wings), because they can be folded, like a square, which becomes a triangle bail when folded, or a hexagon, which becomes a trapeze, or a multi-wing morphing into a puffy flower when zipped. These are all shapes which were and still are explored and taken further by masters and beginners, worldwide, in particular within the framework of Kate McKinnon's "Contemporary Geometric Beadwork" project.

a little petal
While playing with peyote to make geometric shapes, I thought “why 3 or more peaks and not just 2? So I tried. And there it was, a little petal that cupped a little bit. It is very modest at first sight, and one could be tempted to think that it is just another little leaf, but I think that it has great potential.

The past years, I worked on many different things but this petal always came back on my beading mat and each time I promised myself to take it further 'when time allows'. I think that now is the right time.

Petals like this hold their shape well, and can adopt various positions when cupped in or out, or both. In addition, thanks to the little dented edges, one petal can be part of a group of petals, zipped together, leading to endless design possibilities. I made several patterns using petals. When the other day I added a partial Elegant Guide Round to the petals of a large flower, I understood that I would never be able to explore all the possibilities in a lifetime, even if I had two other me. So I took example on  Kate and decided to make this petal exploration an open source project. I don't know exactly where it will take me. Maybe I will write a book with instructions for the best designs arising from it.

The video below shows a few things I made with petals. I am not a very good film-maker and apologize for the quality. I seem to never keep my hands in the frame of the image so I had to cut pieces and bits of 3 videos and assemble them in one.

Do you want to download the instructions for the petals and learn more? Join the  Facebook 'Petal to Pod' group, a place to share our Petal design ideas. It is my wish that it becomes a community of friendly enthusiasts playing with these petals to create new, playful designs, may it be single petal, two-petal or many petal designs, Flowers, buds, pods, pistils, in layers or abstract forms; short, long, wide or thin, cupping heavily or only slightly... whatever your beady brain comes up with. Ask questions, share your designs, trials and errors. Errors are very welcome, they often teach us much more than successes. It is entirely free.

And through this, I hope to light sparks of creativity in you!

Happy Beading,