Sunday, December 29, 2013

Goodbye 2013 ... Hello 2014

2013 for me will be remembered as a year that was not particular eventful in terms of my beading.
Unlike 2012 I was spectacularly silent in terms of beading. 
Ok .. so having said that I was a finalist with both Arabesque Armour and The Jewelled Net of Indra at the 2013 Bead Dreams contest.  Then my bead embroidered neck piece, 'Drama Queen' came 2nd in the British Bead Awards.  I was delighted with those achievements.

Drama Queen
2nd Place. 2012 British Bead Awards
Beaded Jewelry Category
Marcia DeCoster's 2nd book 'Beads In Motion' was published and included in the Gallery of this magnificent beading book is my design 'Hepzibah's Pendulum' neck piece (pg. 121).  The neck piece includes an actual moving pendulum which required significant engineering for it to actually swing. I dearly thank Marcia for the opportunity.
I withdrew from beading as far back as May and not because it was a conscious decision to step away but rather because other parts of my life required my attention.   
Inspiration and my meddling muse however, did not stop.  In fact my journal is full of scribblings and notes that were offered to me as suggestions for designs or thread path wanderings.
I do hope I can produce some really good work in 2014.  Happy New Year everyone x

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pinterest. My new Friend

Pinterest was launched March, 2010, but oddly I did not discover Pinterest until  early 2013.  Pinterest is a wonderful tool for collecting and storing digital images, Blogs and links on a 'Board' you create within an account, online.  For non-business Pinners like me, it's Free. 

My current count of boards is a total of 70 with more than 11,000 Pins.  I know this will increase as I discover new ideas and interests.  I am a serial Pinner.  What is that you ask?  Well, I pin everyday.  If I'm waiting for my coffee to be made at a coffee shop. . I'll pin whilst waiting.  If I'm standing in a queue ... I'll pin whilst waiting.  It's a magnificent time filler and you get to see or learn about so many things. 
For my beadwork I draw inspiration from everywhere, thus I am able to 'store' my inspiration sources through the use of these 'Boards'.  My interests are many and varied and include Art Deco Jewellery, Antique Jewellery (Jewelry), Art Noveau Jewellery, Colour (Color) ways from Nature, Bow Chic, Textile Embellishment, Chanel, Soutache Jewellery, The Great Gatby 2013, Paris and Audrey Hepburn,  and Swarovski (to name a few).  I love being a Pinner, it is a really great past time. 

My Beaded Beauty (wearable and non-wearable art) Board is my most followed board, with over 1000 pins (images) I have currently more than 700 followers.  Who are followers you say?  Quite simply they are fellow Pinners whose interest is also beaded jewellery.  They, the fellow pinners like to repin Pins to their Boards or simply just watch the pins in their Home Feed when they feel like visiting Pinterest.  At this moment in time collectively 1652 people (followers) actively follow what I Pin to my Boards, this increases every single day.  I get a kick from new followers joining my Pinterest gang, they're more than welcome to join my Pinterest sojourn.
There are Pinners who have more than a million followers!
The current tally for worldwide Pinners is more than 70 million! Pinterest have a Blog, Facebook, Press Page and are based in California.  
A few weeks  back whilst looking through Pinterest and following threads I came across a particular Board that fell under the genre title of 'History'.  I followed the thread and discovered daguerreotype post mortem portraits which were very common in the nineteenth century. Mortality rates were high in these times, particularly for infants and children.  Early Victorian's preferred to have an image of a deceased loved one rather than have no memory at all.   Because photography was in its infancy it was extremely expensive to be photographed, thus usually this was the only photograph taken of a family member.  Eyes were painted on closed eyelids, colour was added to imges to add a 'life' like look to the decesaed. Custom metal frames were used so that the deceased could stand upright for their photograph.  Sometimes, 'alive' family members were included in the photograph along with the deceased. Some may say creepy .. but I say it was their way of honouring their loved ones and having a lasting momento.
As a pinner I have followed countless threads within Pinterest and consequently I have seen images of  the beautiful Evelyn McHale, the woman who ended her life on the 1st of May 1947 by jumping from the Empire State building and landing on a parked car below.  Photography student, Robert Wiles took the last sad image of her which was then published in Life magazine at the time.
I have seen JFK's body on an autoposy slab following his November 22, 1963, assasination. I have seen grizzly crime scenes, the shocking scene of Sharon Tate lying dead following the Manson's murderous rampage.  I have seen the image of an overweight woman who suicided in a bath of water. A body allowed to decompose for a consierable length of time in water is not a sight that many could stomach. I have seen dismembered and decapitated bodies that the Mexican Drug Cartel's were responsible for, learned about "The Body Farm" (a plot of land where bodies offered for science are left so that Forensic students can learn about exposure and the process of decomposition).
I have seen images of murderers and learned and sometimes seen image/s of their horrific crimes.  Seen colour photographs of car accident victims, pedestrian accidents, suicide by gunshot or hanging.  I saw a moving image of a grief stricken, Anna Nicole Smith cradling her beloved son Daniel after he had died from an overdose. Holocaust photographs, graphic colour autopsy photographs, human genitals in plastic bags and exhumed bodies.  I discovered and saw photographs of the atrocity known as the Nanjing Massacre, by the Japanese against the Chinese in 1937, unpublished images of 911 and a post mortem photograph of Osama Bin Laden,  
The list of horrific images is long as was the time I spent watching the macabre photostream on my Ipad  Why did I look?  I was driven by nothing more than curiosity.  I imagine I have seen everything there is to see of this sort of imagery on Pinterest now.  I will not look again.  Following the marathon of looking at the images I was left with a sickness in the pit of my stomach that would not go away for a long time.  The images plagued me in my dreams a few times, but mostly it just left me with a heightened sense of mortality, a deep sense of sadness for the victims photographed and a restless feeling of being unsafe. 
Despite my journey into the macabre and disturbing I still value and adore Pinterest as a wonderful form of Social Media.  I know that there is a dark side, but I have closed that door.
Interesting Pinterest facts on Wikipedia

Note: I work hard to include the Artist along with the image on my Beaded Beauty & Soutache Boards.  I apologise for any misrepresentation of an image that may be yours.  Please contact me to rectify any discrepancies. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bead Dream Winners 2013

This year I was delighted to be a finalist in both the Seed Bead and Crystal Jewelry Categories in the prestigous Bead Dreams, Bead Artistry Contest (Milwaukee, USA). 

No wins this year, but a finalist for two years running is an achievement I not ever imagined possible.

Congratulations to each and every winner and finalist at this years Bead Dreams contest.

Crystal Jewelry Cateogory Finalist 2013.  The Jewelled Net of Indra
The Jewelled Net of Indra

The Jewelled Net of Indra

Seed Bead Jewelry Category Finalist & Top 5 Battle of the Beadsmith Finalist Arabesque Armour

Arabesque Armour

Best in Show

Carpet "Anastasia" by Tatiana Fitzpatrick
Best in Show runner up
Mira by Sarah Thompson, Wash.
The People's Choice Award: to be advised after June 12.
1st Place - Floral Wedding Set by Barbara Caraway, AK,
2nd Place - Winter Dreams by Susan Matych-Hager,
3rd Place - Bee Hive by Stephanie White, Ga.
Polymer Clay
1st Place - Reggae Necklace by Melanie Muir, United Kingdom,
2nd Place - Gigantical Fantastical Spider Ring by Kathleen Bingaman, Mich.
3rd Place - Les Fleurs de Paradis by Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg, Conn.
Crystal Jewelry
1st Place - Crystal Waterfall by Alla Maslennikova,
2nd Place - Mukades by Guzialia Reed,
3rd Place - Tattered by Diane Hyde,
Metal Clay
1st Place - The Ruins by Christie Anderson, Ariz
2nd Place - Growth by Julia Rai
3rd Place - Mokume Gane Tortoise by Cindy Pankopf, Calif.
1st Place - Mira by Sarah Thompson, Wash.
2nd Place - Phoenix Jacket by Vanessa Walilko, Ill.
3rd Place - Penny Pincher by Omniobadiah Mee
Handmade Buttons or Beads
1st Place - Robot Party by Joan Miller, Fla.
2nd Place - Dragonflies by Joan Miller, Fla.
3rd Place - Tuscany Flowers by Vladislav Ivanov and Kremena Ivanova
Finished Jewelry
1st Place - Demon of Screamin' a Dedication by Sherry Serafini, Pa.
2nd Place - Angel Armor by Heidi Kummli, Colo.
3rd Place - Jurassic by Anneta Valious
Seed Bead Jewelry
1st Place - Blue Feather by Andrea Grzabka, Calif.
2nd Place - Picnic in May on Lilac Way by Marsha Wiest-Hines
3rd Place - Violet Blossoms by Gabriela Mendez Fernandez, Spain
Objects or Accessories
1st Place - Carpet "Anastasia" by Tatiana Fitzpatrick
2nd Place - "Peep Show" Beaded Corset by Laura McCabe
3rd Place - Baas by Gabriella Van Diepen

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Oh No, broken Miyuki Delicas!!

I am sharing my experience with you, concerning a particular type of Miyuki Delica bead that has failed (ie broken under tension) more than three times whilst being woven into beadwork.  My experience would suggest that matte coloured Miyuki Delica's do not cope well under tight tension and will ultimately break.

Pic 02. Broken Delicas - Brooch

Pic 01. Broken Delicas - Brooch

I used Miyuki Delicas to bead the two beadwork pieces shared within this blog.  I have re-beaded them both twice. 
Collectively that is three times! 
The beadwork pieces returned to me earlier this year as they had 'broken' again (break #3). I looked more closely at the pieces and to my dismay it was in fact the Miyuki Delica's that had failed. 

If you look closely at Pic  01, 02 and 03 you will see that the Fireline is intact, just the beads either missing or in half. I doubt very much that the beads were broken through impact ie dropped on a hard surface.  The brooch Pic 01 and Pic 02 failed in two areas.
Pic 03. Broken Delicas - Pendant
The first rebead of the pieces I naturally assumed it was the Nymo that had failed and rebeaded both pieces using 6lb Fireline from scratch again, using the same Miyuki Delica beads that I had originally used DBR 653 (matte orange) and DBR 390 (matte green) both size 11's.  

I beaded these pieces originally, then a second time using Miyuki Delica's from a bulk order of beads that I had purchased.  Whether they were from the same batch will never be known, but it is curious that both DBR's in different matte colours both failed.

The Culprits

I now suspect that it was the Miyuki Delicas that had failed originally however, I did not examine the beadwork closely enough.  I 'assumed' it was the Nymo thread that had failed. 

I no longer use Nymo thread as I consider it an unworthy product for longevity of beadwork.
I rebeaded both pieces a third time abandoning the Miyuki Delicas, using only Miyuki and Toho seed beads (also called rocailles) size 11 and 15 and of course 6lb Fireline.

Rebeaded Brooch, using Miyuki & Toho seed beads

Rebeaded Pendant, using Miyuki seed beads

Another Miyuki Delica, of interest is the DBR 671 size 11.  This bead is not a matt coloured bead but rather a faceted Delica.  The beads actually broke in half many times whilst I was beading this pair of earrings.  I managed however to complete the earrings, after repairing the bead breaks, but over time the beads have failed as did the matt coloured Delicas.  The earrings have not been worn.

In future I will only use matt coloured Miyuki Delicas for projects such as bead embroidery or where tension is not required.

I will say also that the tension I used whilst creating all of these pieces was in accordance with the necessary level of tension required to capture and secure the cabochons within the beadwork.  Any professional beader would have used the same tension. 
I have provided Miyuki feedback regarding their products.

Happy Beading Mel

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sweet Dreams Chrissy

Chrissy in her signature 'school girl uniform' performing live.

Apri 21, 2013 Australia lost a music icon .. the divine forever rock chick, Chrissy Amplett, lead vocalist of the Divinyls, dead at 53. 
She died in New York, surrounded by people she loved which is what any of us could ever hope for when we depart the mortal coil.
Chrissy suffered for some years with both MS and breast cancer, but it was the breast cancer that claimed her life.

 The Divinyls performing Pleasure & Pain 1983

The Divinyls were a band that for me defined Australian music and living in the 80's.  The 80's is known for many things including bad fashion and big hair, but for me it was simply a time that I was young, carefree and wild. 
Chrissy was the epitome of wild woman, her rock chick moves, lushious pouty lips, smokey eye make up and raunchy stage costumes.
Combine this with a unique husky singing voice, she was simply amazing to see live.
I saw the Divinyls perform in Perth, Western Australia in the early 80's .. back then I think I paid about $20 to get into the gig. 

Then again in 1988 at the Expo in Brisbane.
I am grateful for the experience. Thank you for the memories 'The Divinyls'
I mourn the loss of Chrissy very much. 
Vale Chrissy, sweet dreams, Australia adores you.

Friday, February 1, 2013

P to the Power of 7

P to the Power of 7 .. What's that you say?  It is a term born on a mining site during the very difficult commissioning phase of the Murrin Murrin Cobalt and Nickel mine, Western Australia.  A place that had epic problems due to design faults, which eventually resulted in legal action.
Prior, Planning & Preparation Prevent a Piss Poor Performance ... is the long version of P7.
Crude in some respects, but remember this term was created on an isolated mine site which was a male dominated work place.
I designed the 'Painted Daisy' ring prior to Christmas 2012, made four samples and was very pleased with the design and excited to share it with Digital Beading magazine readers. 

It was the Christmas school holidays, I was stressed it was hot, my boys were being their usual badly behaved, shouting, ever hungry, bored selves.  The deadline for the delivery of my project was the end of January 2013. It was very hard to think, let alone have time to work uninterupted on the PC with both of my boys at home.
I thought to myself, this design is nice and quick (I can bead one up in just over an hour) so it will be no trouble to write up.  I will leave it untill the last week of the school holidays before I begin the tutorial/pattern .. confidently I thought will be ok.
Whilst I felt I had addressed and throught about the P7 I did not factor in any 'what if's' .. ie variables that are not within my control.
So .. what if..?
My boys return to school, and I start writing the tutorial with only days till the deadline, then discover that it is impossible to articulate parts of the design into a written and diagrammatical format.
What if I had to re-design the 'Painted Daisy' ring so that I could in fact articulate the design into a written and diagrammatical format.
What if I started writing up the tutorial, took a break and decided to clean up some software installations that I perceived to be not useful.
What if I deleted several programs only to discover that I had deleted the files that control the resolution for my oversised monitor, so that when viewing documents they were stretched across the monitor and impossible to work on..
What if it took all day to reinstall all the software that I deleted before I was able to use the PC again.
What if I took all the photographs of the steps to make the design, downloaded them, edited them, named them, inserted them into the document only to discover that I had created the sample with 12 units in the bezel rather than 13 units.
What if I had to make the sample again, and wait for the camera batteries to charge, photograph all the steps a second time, download the 2nd set of photographs, edit the new photograpahs and name the new photographs.
What if I was about to start the tutorial again with the new images and then got a phonecall from the school, saying my son was ill and needed to be taken home.
What if I started writing that project again stayed up really late two nights in a row, the second night until after midnight only to be woken up at 2am to clean up vomit, then woken up again 2 hours later with that same sick child that came home early from school that day. 
So a timely note to self is, when you have the time well in advance to prepare something that has a deadline, use that time.  You can use the P7 all you want but there will always be What If's.
Happy Beading..Mel

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hepzibahs Pendulum Neckpiece gets published!

Hepzibahs Pendulum .. you say?  What's that you say?  Hepzibah was the name given to my maternal great, grandmother we just called her Dais or Daisy Belle.  She lived until she was 92.
I named this piece in honour of her.
My beading bud (bbbf), who lives in Sydney, Patrick Duggan was invited by Marcia DeCoster to submit designs for a new book Beads in Motion.  I was very excited for Patrick and this opportunity, it got me thinking tho ... hmmm could I design something that actually moved using only beads.  I quickly slipped into Melly World (an annoying state of mind for those who know me, particularly my husband, children and mother).. it is a state of mind that I can 'shut my ears off' and tap into my creative muse.  I sketched out only one design.  Patrick, in the meantime had contacted Marcia to enquire as to whether I might submit work for consideration.  Marcia was delighted with the suggestion so I set to work.
My design journal
The concept that I had in mind was a swinging pendulum as an actual neckpiece. I had an amazing faceted 34c Amethyst bead in my stash that I wanted to use as the actual pendulum weight, so the colour way was determined by the use of that single bead (joining Amethyst would be reds and golds). 
How to make it swing?  First I bezzeled a divine Swarovski Dentelle in the colour 'Light Siam'.  Size 60ss this sweet baby is vintage and discontinued, consequently a rare beauty.
From the Dentelle grew the barrel that the pendulum would swing from.  Next a beaded ring from which to suspend the pendulum. So that the pendulum did not slip around I had to design a chanel for the pendulum to sit within.  The beaded ring, barrel and chanel still had to allow for 'ease of swing' so significant fine tuning of the design was required at this time.  Now how to make it a vision of beauty ie a neckpiece worthy of the Gallery section of the esteemed Master Beader, Marcia DeCoster.  Not daunted I let the design 'rest' whilst my muse delivered the design .. I did not have to wait long.
The pendulum and side view of the barrel
The pendulum has to be at the base of the focal, where all good pendulum's are.  I designed a top half of the pendulum using another 60ss Dentelle, this time more heavily embellished and larger to aid in the balance of the focal. 
An initial join of the focals, but was abandoned.
The two focals joined using the rope feature

Then the next design hurdle presented itself to join the two components?  I decided upon creating another barrel for the top Dentelle focal, then joining the two with a strap of herringbone.  Joining the top focal and the pendulum focal required the most design time.  Why?  Balance had to be considered, the pendulum had to swing unobstructed and it had to look beautiful.  Days of bead engineering, sampling, undoing, redoing, frustration and a couple of times total dispair as I could not achieve harmony between the focals. 
But patiance and engineering prevailed and the two focals were successfully joined and achieved all the target specifications ie to swing and to be functional.  I changed out the length of the pendulum to a shorter version, then created a bead cap to add further weight to add in functionality of the 'swing' factor of the pendulum.
Close up of the 34carat Amethyst drop
Next part of the project was to hang the pendulum focals.  I decided on twin strands of Swrarovski pearls and the addition of another two 60ss Dentelles. 

Connector lengthens the neckpiece
Connector removed shortens the neckpiece

Then the clasp.  I am a fan of magnetic clasps, I source the finest and the strongest from around the world.  The magnetic clasps used in this design are gold filled and small. 
An addition of a single beadwoven ring of beads sits between the clasp focals which are two, 60ss Dentelles. This acts as a neckpiece connector, ie remove it and the neckpiece is shorter by an inch or so.  Hepzibah's Pendulum required 2 full weeks of beading and designing.
An email from Dawn Dillingham arrived this morning from Lark Publishing.  The email confirmed that Hepzibah's Pendulum was selected and will be included in the Gallery of Marcia DeCoster's second book 'Beads in Motion'.  I am so thrilled and I am so delighted.  I am uncertain of the scheduled release date of the book, but it will be 2013.
Late last year, 2012 I submitted Hepzibah's Pendulum to the Fire Mountain Beads & Gems, Seed Bead Category contest, which is run annually.  I received confirmation that Hepzibah's Pendulum had been selected for second round judging, she is currently in the USA.  I look forward to hearing how she went.  I will let you know as soon as I do.
Patrick informed me today on reading my blog, that he too has had work accepted to appear in the book.  How fabulous to share the pages with my delightful and talented friend. 

Thank you to Patrick Duggan and Marcia DeCoster for this amazing opportunity to share my work with the world.  I am deeply grateful.
Happy Beading
.... currently heading off into Melly World to absorb inspiration for Bead Dreams 2013.
ps you may note that a photograph of the completed 'Hepzibah's Pendulum' is not included in this blog post .. once the book is published I will share a pic.

ps news to hand (April 2013) Hepzibah's Pendulum won the 2012 Bronze Medal, Seed Bead Category in the Fire Mountain Gems & Beads, jewelry contest which is run annually.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Achieving Soutache Symmetry

Venetian Tango
Venetian Tango - Focal
Whilst wondering around in search of Soutache excellence to pin to my Board  'Soutache Extrodinaire' (yes I am Pinterest crazy right now).  I happened across a store that was selling a Soutache neckpiece for $175.  I looked closely argh .. cheap soutache, wonky stacking* and gasp .. symmetrical imperfection!  Now before I say anymore, lets just clear up that I do not claim to be the Queen of Soutache Embroidery, merely the Duchess of Symmetry (tongue in cheek of course).

Currently I am working on a Soutache piece entitled 'Venetian Tango' it's a vibrant piece using glass cabochons and beads from my vintage Venetian Millefiori collection,  The 'Tango' reference is ode to the vibrant red and black Soutache and sparkling movement the piece exudes.  I decided to share how I created two components for this to demonstrate how to achieve symmetry.

To achieve symmetrical perfection typically does not happen the first time you play with Soutache, indeed not the second or third time either.  Symmetrical perfection requires focus, steady hands, a good eye, technique and the final ingredient .. 'patience'. 
Creating Art is not a production line activity, so there is never a need to rush to finish, not ever.

Creating Symmetrical Perfection

Start by placing the components you want and lay them out in readyness.  I have two components here that require symmetrical perfection.

For these componets I precut  identical lengths of Soutache. I only use premium quality European Soutache. Soutache from 'Spotlight and/or Lincraft' is suitable for practice sampling only. 

I work from one component to the next, ie in tandem this way I am replicating identical components.

To ensure perfect symmetrical proportions of my fold back curls (we'll just call them curls for now).  I select the first component, ensure that my working thread (always use Fireline, typically I use 2lb or 4lb for sewing the Soutache) is exiting the edge of the back of the component (see pic below the 'white' line). 
See where the white line (Fireline) exits
Carefully fold back your Soutache stack of strands to form the curl, position them, ensuring the curl Soutache strands are carefully stacked.  Examine the curl, is it perfect?  If so, position the curl to the back of the cab by sewing through the ends of the Soutache and anchor it.  (At this point in time I like to sew through the curl stack to join the layers of Soutache).  Move to the second curl on the first cabochon.  Look at the first curl, then start creating the second curl.  Hold the ends with your fingers, now look at the curl .. ask yourself is it identical to the first curl? .. if not, redo it, keep redoing it until it is identical, then anchor it using your working thread.  Even after you have anchored the second curl, look at it again, from different angles, is it identical?  If not unpick and start again, as so often is said in Australia 'she'll be right mate' just will not do in this instance.

The first completed Compoent with Symmetrical Curls
The second component, this is where it starts to get a wee bit tricky as this one must be identical to the first component.  I understand that Soutache embroidery allows for 'organic movement' but typically the components must have symmetrical proportions.

Creating the Second Component
Once both components are completed, pick them up, look at them again 'Are they truly symmetrical?'
Remember your work is an extension of you, it reflects your design talent, craftsmanship, work ethics and your attention to detail.  Which in turn will reflect in your sales and return customers who will wait eagerly for your new designs. 

Symmetrical Components
Anneta Valious is releasing her new book, Soutache 30 Designs this June through Lark Publishing. My work appears in the Gallery of this book. 
If Soutache interests you this book is ideal for your library.  Keep out a watch for it on in the book section, typically new books from Lark Publishing are available for pre-order which saves you money from the cover price.  I will include the link to when the book is listed with them.
*Stacking refers to the layers of Soutache braid that 'lie' together.