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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Steampunk on a Loom!

STEAMPUNK: Feminine, Strong, Intelligent & Fantastical!
The Steampunk culture takes its cues from the Victorian era, while speculating how the world would be different if steam power was the driving force. It has an obsession with time so clock parts are often included, such as gears, old fashion keys and bits of antique metal cast offs. In order to reflect an antique feel, brass, bronze, copper, gunmetal, rich browns, ecru and shades of grey are included. I was excited to take this Steampunk movement, to my loom, bead weaving a cuff that would incorporate much of these ideals.

BEAD Magazine-UK, contacted me asking if I could create a bead loomed cuff, for their Issue #40, highlighting the 'Steampunk' style. It was a wonderful way for me to learn more about this design aspect and see if I could replicate the same feel, on my loom. This turned out being the most enjoyable design experience. Steampunk offers such a magical, fantastical feel where 'anything goes', as long as it is muted in color, metals are antique in finish and clocks, cogs or skeleton keys are included.

My idea to add a watch, evolved into being able to create what I wanted, under a clear glass cabochon. The custom design watch face is shaped and secured, under a 30 mm round glass cab with 'thin' watch gears placed freely around. I then bezeled the glass cab by hand weaving 11/0 and 15/0 glass beads, in a matching colorway. More bronze and copper metal were included as the watch chain, bail and fun findings.

The complete pattern and details, of how I finished all aspects, including the graphed pattern for the loom, are published in the latest issue of BEAD Magazine, August/September 2012. Their magazine can be purchased on line or at some of the larger book stores, in the US. The E-Mag can be just as gratifying, offering the same pattern and much more, from other wonderful bead artists.

I am very proud to see my beading featured, on a magazine cover, for the first time! It also excites me to see my favorite method of bead weaving, being highlighted, in such an important manner. It doesn't seem to happen enough, for me.

This truly is an exciting time, for bead weaving on a loom, and my plan is to create further interest, when my book becomes available. It will include the most up-to-date and enjoyable methods, of managing warps, showing how to further the two dimensional aspect of beading on a loom and offer inspiration to generate thoughts on including new supplies or adding hand woven bead designs.

If you have been following my Blog and want to learn more about my techniques, consider looking into this latest copy of BEAD Magazine! See if you can stop yourself, from adding more and more 'Fantastical' findings, as I had a hard time doing!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Don't Leaf Me"-Swap Cuff!

I was amazed at how the 'poll' idea worked out. Thank you to everyone who played along! You see, I shared the poll, (determining whether or not to add the leaf fringes), here and in my Group on FB. "A Bead Looming Intervention" is where the swap began. The poll in BLI was overwhelmingly 'for' the fringes. On my Blog, Readers overwhelmingly voted 'not' to add any leaf fringe. Since my 'Swap Buddy' voted, in BLI 'for', I added them.

When we sign up for a Swap, we include a few personal preferences. My creation had to compliment: Colors, purple/green/turquoise and loom a narrow cuff, no more than 1 1/2 inches wide. At first, I thought the width would be my toughest challenge. I tend to go 'wide' more so, than not. It worked out perfectly, with this cuff measuring exactly 1 1/2 inches in width. The fringe added to this, of course, but thus is the reason I placed each leaf so far apart. This way, it added more 'movement' than substance. Too many, too close, and it would have relayed a look of another layer.

In the picture below, you can see how I went about including the leaves. Each leaf was wire wrapped to include a sterling jump ring. These were then strung on to a Tex 400 green cord and secured on to my loom, adding this additional warp. As I loomed the line of 11/0 Permanent Silver Glass Beads, a jump ring was moved into place then further beads loomed.

The reason I did not add them 'after' the silver beads were loomed is because this line would have 'bunched up'. The jump rings do give a girth similar to a small bead. Without giving them their own spaces, the edge of the cuff would be wavy.

I was able to find the perfect clasps! These have a flower design, narrow enough to handle two and are sterling silver. They close via a hook-n-eye closure.

I had some sterling head pins left over, so I decided to make a matching pair of earrings. These ear wires have become my signature, ©Wiggle Wires. They may look a bit uncomfortable to put in your ear, but they slip in with a slight wiggle. The best part is the fact they 'stay put', not slipping out of the lobe, as easily.

This was an enjoyable swap and I'll be putting the set in the mail to.....(my Swap Buddy doesn't know I have her name).....!

Now, I have set my chair, next to my mail box and will await my new cuff! Deadline for mailing is this Tuesday, July 31st. I'll be getting to know "Louise", our mail lady much better, I think! hehehe

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Custom Made Metal Findings

There truly is not much I do, outside of weaving beads on a loom. My mode is to take my favorite art medium to the highest levels, by staying with it. But, sometimes it is necessary to kick up a creation, with other mediums.

Point in fact is the idea to add some 'wire wrapped fringing' to this Swap Cuff, I have been sharing the past week or so. The poll here states 'no fringe', so far. But the poll on my FB page, where the swap cuff idea began, is totally opposite. Therefore, I am starting to create the head pins, for the fringe. If anything changes, then I will have a nice supply of sterling silver head pins on hand to use for a future bead weaving!

When I started including some metal findings, to my pieces, I looked at catalog suppliers. Everything was very standard looking, not what I had in mind for a 'creative feel'. My friend, Liz Owens is a Smithy and puts together fabulous wearable art. I asked her for some simple instruction to create head pins that look more creative than the 'flat bottom' pins I can purchase. I am amazed at how simple and perfect they work out! I never considered my self comfortable enough to get near a flame, but this aspect of jewelry making gives no reason to be fearful.

Below are the simple tools needed to start. A burner and some pickle. Both are readily available. The flame, given off by this burner, is very mild and controllable. I breathed a big sigh of relief, on my first try. The pickle is mixed with water to soak the newly melted silver, removing the dark ash created.

Silver wire is bought in bulk, cut to lengths, (for any project), melted, by holding the cut wire with a pair of flat nose pliers, dipped into the pickle solution to whiten, and tumbled to shine. Now the tumbler may be the most expensive part of having this option of 'hand made head pins' available. But it can also be purchased used.

Below you can see each phase, including the dark ends that were newly melted, soaking in the pickle, white tips shown after the pickle bath and shiny silver tips, when removed from a tumbler.

The act of wrapping each one is something else I had to practice. Use less expensive wire options for practicing, before you begin using the good sterling.

There are many tutorials on line showing this process. I think I needed my friend Liz to talk me into considering it. But now that I do, make my own creative head pins, I realize the money I am saving and how much the addition of some good quality findings add to my pieces.

Clasps are also very easy to create. I have shared how to make the clasps I show on some of my cuffs, in my book, (due out the first quarter of 2013). Not every bead loom woven creation screams for metal findings, but if they can be included, I feel they add more quality to the overall finish.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

To Fringe or Not to Fringe - POLL

I am at a cross road, with my 'Swap Cuff' design. My 'Swap Buddy' prefers a narrow cuff. It is at that point right now, but I am thinking how nice a 'fringe of pressed glass green leaves', would add some movement and upscale designing.

Not everyone has the same wearable use, of every design aspect, so let me pose this question to my Blog Readers. Do you think such a leaf fringe should be added to the edge of this cuff?

I have included a picture, above, of how the fringe would be completed, pressed glass, Swarovski glass pearls and sterling findings. In the same picture, I have also shared a photo, of how similar, such a fringing would be added.

Does anyone feel like helping me out with this design? Of course, my Swap Buddy will be offered this same poll and this cuff will be completed to her specs, but thought it fun to play this out together!

UPDATE: Since votes can be changed and the replies have been eye opening, I will add this picture to the mix. I decided to try something like what I am getting from everyone. These will be wire wrapped with 'Vintage Gold' pearls, as the first picture. Now how do you vote?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Accenting and Channeling!

I have been enjoying, adding 'glimmer' to my cuffs and this one is no exception.

You may recall a cuff I shared a few weeks ago, which included some 'cupchain'. I have now figured this process out. Funny how new ideas tend to take on more work, evolve into 'Ah-Ha' moments then continue upward to being completed quickly. I am there now.

I have also started 'zipping up' the channel portion of this cuff. Staying simplistic, I continued the flower design, but also added a silver bezel framing, to the center Opal Swarovski Crystal. What I am more excited about, it how well the beading lays. It is smooth and uninterrupted by so many 'thread turns'. Thread turns bulk out normally, when completing a channel cuff, or even adding an edging. I thing I found the key to keeping my cuff smooth, with no thread turns sticking out. Any guesses, before I spring further posts on my Blog, detailing my method?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Channeling my way through...
Stage Two, of this cuff!

I now finished weaving both halves, of this 'Channel Cuff', (again, thanks to Caron Reid for naming these style cuffs).

When I was originally creating this cuff, in my mind and on the bead pattern program, I also worked out what I wanted to add down the center of the two completed strips. Let me share how I set up my second set of warps, to finish the other half of the channel cuff, and how I need to consider what I had planned.

Size up the space needed between the strips, using the 'largest' bead you are planning to include, along the center accents of this cuff. I just pierce 'one' of the large beads I know will be used as a filler, then place it next to the end warp of what I already completed, eye up where my first warp should be placed and secure the new warp, for the second half.

This width may change. Especially if you decide to also include some bead caps or switch to a slightly larger bead. The warping can handle a bead size or two, but not a huge space. So if you feel you are not sure what to add down the center, try to figure something pretty close. You won't be able to move any secured warps, once you have strung up for the second half. However, your weft, while zipping up the center with accents, can handle a taut tug to close up the gap.

The picture above depicts my color selection of C-Lon Tex 400 and some wide spacing of Crystal ©Fireline. It is not necessary to always have 'one bead between two warps'. You can go as high as five, 11/0 seed beads wide, without including a further technique to secure. Just consider your finishing methods and clasp. You won't be able to decrease just 'one bead', when you are weaving multiple beads between two warps. If you can arrange this, it does help to save on warping threads! :D

I also included some green color cording because I wanted to pick up some of the green I will be adding to the center accent. This green Tex 400 may not show up, but it will add to the over all effect, when completed. Keep watching!

In the picture below, I am showing how important the 'wefts' are to consider, especially when creating a channel cuff on the loom.

Notice how the wefts wrap 'around' the warps, in a straight up-n-down line. When weaving your wefts, with 'one needle', one side of your beading will show the weft falling 'straight' and the other side of the beading will show the weft falling 'slanted'. This is normal and the obvious will apply. Take a close look at your work and see which side of the beading falls straight or slants. This really depends on whether you are right handed or left handed.

The picture below shows the 'slanted' side of the beading. In the background, of this same picture, you can make out the 'straight' wefts.

When using a 'double weft' method, both wefts will wrap 'slanted', on both sides of the beading. This is not a recommended way to weave your wefts, when creating a 'channel cuff'. Let me refer to one of the pictures above, again.

Looking at the picture above, you will see how the needle runs straight across both end warps, of the two beaded strips. This is the same direction your weft will run when adding the center accent beads. If you are not considering the wefts and how they run when working up a 'channel cuff', then the center two warps will be covered in crazy lines of thread, cover your warp and make your cuff look messy. You don't want to hide the gorgeous Tex 400 colors you decided to add.

It may be necessary to turn your loom or even your pattern, to make sure both end wefts run 'straight up-n-down', before you proceed with the second half of the cuff.

Anybody have any ideas on what I am including down the center? ;-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Taking a pattern from 'Program to Loom'

I am enrolled in a 'Cuff Swap' with a group of beaders who weave on a loom, in "A Bead Looming Intervention". Even though our 'Swappee' is not aware who has their name, I would like to share my stages, of completing this cuff design idea.

This is the rough draft, of the pattern, I originally had in mind. Notice the black lines, running down the center of the design. These will actually be 'Tex 400 Cord' and will outline the space I create to add loose beads, larger beads, to connect the two sides together. Basically, a 'Channel Cuff' design. (This design method is perfectly named by Caron Reid)

The colors are not exact, at this stage. I usually find a color, from the program's color pallet, close to what I am thinking. Then, I pull bead colors, from my available stash, to match the rough pattern draft or make changes in the color way. Once I decide on the exact colors, I return to the pattern program and make the color number changes. This way, I will be able to revisit this same pattern, in the future, with the correct Delica colors.

Using purple Tex 400, on the left, outlining the single strand of metallic silver Delicas, filling the center with Crystal Fireline and finishing the right side with a single length of teal Tex 400, I completed weaving the left side of the pattern.

My thoughts of using the different color Tex 400 cords are to carry out an overall feel of the three major color choices, Teal-Purple-Green. You will see some green Tex 400 being using to outline the right side half of this pattern, which I am starting right now.

Notice the differences between my original pattern idea and the actual half of the cuff. You can see the background is more decorative than just using a solid color, as depicted in the original pattern. I decided on a matt finish Delica, #389 and highlight the flowers, with a shimmering halo of a matt matallic Delica, #1153.

I wanted to incorporate a subtle color. One that will not fight, for attention, when paired with the teal, purple and greens. White seemed too stark. Light yellow was an option, but was affraid of it being too seasonal. My final idea was to go with a flesh tone, as seen while wearing the finished cuff. The flowers may seem to 'float' on the wrist, with such a color selection.

To introduce a sterling silver clasp, I added a line of silver metallic Delicas, #35. This same line of silver will be mirrored on the right side.

Finally, here is a picture of the actual pattern I am now following.

This pattern is marked, with the correct colors and Delica numbers, within the program's pattern archive, itself.

As with every pattern program, not all of the bead colors match the program's selection, of a bead color, so you can see a bit of a difference. I discussed this many times, throughout my Blog. Here is a link to one of the most detailed posts I made, on the subject of 'bead colors vs. pattern program colors'.