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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Farfalle Seed Beads - What to Do with Them?

Farfalle seed beads – what to do with them? These beads are also known as peanuts or bowties. They've been out for a few years, but I haven't seen too many designs that employ them. I've done a few things with them that I'd like to share with you.
Here's a bracelet that is bead crocheted with farfalle seed beads in a green metallic. I finished the ends with gold bead caps and then connected the beaded bracelet to a Stewart Abelman art bead. The farfalle seed beads gave the bracelet a very organic look with lots of texture. Because of the bead crochet stitch, you can roll this one onto your wrist.
Designer Jewelry - bead crochet bracelet with art bead
Another bracelet employed the same technique:
Designer Jewelry - bead crochet bracelet with art bead
Having done a few bracelets with bead crochet, I turned my attention to peyote stitch. I wondered what would happen if I used the larger farfalle seed beads with some 11/0 Czech seed beads. Using odd-count peyote, I did a section of black farfalle seed beads with crystal AB seed beads, and then switched to pink farfalle seed beads for the next section.
Alternating back and forth between the two colors of farfalle seed beads, I ended up with a bracelet with more texture than if I had used the same size 11/0 seed beads. The smaller 11/0 beads were tucked down into the beadwork, creating channels. The bracelet is a little heftier, but still quite flexible. Looking at the bracelet from the side, the crystal beads all but disappeared, and the colors of the farfalles were more pronounced. I liked the effect. Here is the bracelet, then a closeup of the beadwork from above, and then from the side.
Designer Jewelry - Peyote Stitch Farfalle Seed Bead Bracelet

Picture of the bead work from straight above:

Designer Jewelry - Peyote Stitch Farfalle Seed Bead Bracelet
Now, in the next picture, which I took from a side angle, the crystal AB seed beads recede into the bead work, leaving the color of the farfalle seed beads more pronounced. It's difficult to show this affect in pictures – you have to see the bead work itself. I would encourage you to give this a try, because the effect is really very nice.
Designer Jewelry - Peyote Stitch Farfalle Seed Bead Bracelet

I continued my work with the farfalle seed beads. I had a pin that I needed to finish. I wanted to put UltraSuede on the back, and then hide the edges so that you could not see how the pin was finished. I've used several techniques in the past with seed beads. With the new shape of the farfalle seed beads, I wanted to see the possibilities of finishing the edge differently.

Here's what I did: I knotted my thread on the front of the pin and went through the layers of Lacey's Stiff Stuff and UltraSuede to the back of the pin. Then I brought my needle back to the front of the pin picked up a black farfalle seed bead, a lime-colored Delica, and then went back through the farfalle seed bead with my needle and thread, sewing to the back of the pin and placing the thread in position to sew the next bead.

This made a small picot on top of the farfalle seed bead. I lined up the the farfalle seed bead so that one larger end was on the top of the pin and the other larger end was on the backside. I worked in this manner all around the circumference of the pin.

I did not particularly like the way that the beads looked around the pin. The beats were disorganized. This just didn't seem to go with the design of the pin itself. To straightened the beads, I decided to sew between the lime green Delicas, putting another lime green bead between the beads on the top of the farfalle beads. As I came around the curves on each end of the pin, I put two Delicas between the picot beads if it seemed that there would be a gap if I used only one.

By sewing through this outside edge of Delicas three times, the beads aligned, and I found that the top part of the pin had a very nice finish, as did the back side.The longer farfalle beads worked to my advantage to accomplish this. The pictures below show the pin, front and back.

Designer jewelry - Dichroic Pin

Designer jewelry - Dichroic Pin
I am calling this one "The Toucan", as when I look at this piece of dichroic glass, I see a bird. When I took a photograph of the front, I placed one of my lights so that it would give the bird an "eye". The cabochon was a gift from Mona Hair, and was one of her first pieces of dichroic art. I have a brooch converter, and so I can wear this pin as a pendant as well.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fixing Design Errors

I had an idea for a necklace that would incorporate several jewelry design techniques: bead weaving, pearl knotting, wire-working, and chain maille. I made the body of this piece using a modified herringbone stitch, with 4 mm cubes, farfaille seed beads, and shocking pink 10 lb test fire line. The mono-chromatic design was to continue with two strands of knotted pearls and crystals, and then terminate with chain maille and a hand-made clasp. For the pendant, I use a simple chain maille weave and handmade14kt gold-filled jump rings to create a short chain. To this I added wire-wrapped crystals and pearls.

Once all the components were completed, I assembled the necklace, put it on, and realized the knotted strands and chain maille sections were much too long. So, what do you do when you have a situation like this?

I removed the knotted pearl and crystal section, reattached the chain maille, and voila! I had the necklace the length I wanted, and it hung perfectly.
Designer Jewelry-Chain Maille Necklace with pearls and sapphires
Here's a closeup of the first pendant made for the above necklace:
Designer Jewelry-Chain Maille Necklace with pearls and sapphires
The next decision was what to do with the pearl strands.

I connected those to a store-bought clasp and created another pendant, somewhat similar to the first one, but shorter, with much fewer crystals and gold dangles added to make a different design. I don’t usually make short necklaces, but I was not going to cut apart the knotted strands and start over. The strands were just long enough, and now I have two pieces designed.

Designer Jewelry-Chain Maille Necklace with pearls and sapphires

This second shorter necklace designed, I call, “To Err Is Human”.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Modified Necklace

I said I was going to redo a piece. I was going to improve on the design by making chain maille that was just a little smaller in diameter than the focal piece of pearls and sapphires. I finished that last week. Below is a picture of the necklace redone with chain maille.
Designer Jewelry-Chain Maille Necklace with pearls and sapphires
I am still not sure which one I like better. They both are nice. However, I'm going to leave this piece as it is. I used the thin chain I took off the original necklace for a similar piece done with garnets:
Designer Jewelry-Pearl and garnet bead crochet necklace
I stlil have not bought another strand of sapphires, but eventually I will get back to that so I can design a matching pair of earrings.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Corning Museum of Glass

This past week I took a road trip through New England: New Hampshire of course, Maine, Vermont, New York, just a bit of Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. I'm sorry I missed Rhode Island and Connecticut, but that's the way the trip went.
One of the museums that I visited was the Corning Museum of Glass. I took over 500 photos of what I saw there, and I thought I would share one of the pictures of beadwork done with what looked to me to be 22/0 beads. This is beaded knitting from the 19th century:

The one I'm talking about is the second piece in from the left, and if you look at the top rim of the goblet you can see a thin line of blue beads. Compare the size of these with the ones used in the piece in the middle with the deer on it. The centerpiece is made with 11/0 beads.

What an incredible piece this goblet is! I have no idea how they got a needle through those beads. They must have used a thread with the end glued into a portion stiff enough to be used as a needle. The whole piece was beaded with those tiny beads, and it's tough to get that many colors to make a flower pattern. Just finding the beads to reproduce this today would be quite the trick.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


These fun and lightweight paper beads from Uganda offer several design options. I did this chain maille piece with brass jump rings. After adding Mzuribeads to the bib, the necklace hung properly because the beads did not weigh down the chain maille.

Designer Jewelry - Mzuribead Chain Maille Necklace

A matching pair of earrings is one that is very comfortable to wear.
Designer Jewelry - Mzuribead Chain Maille Earrings

Monday, May 31, 2010

Pattern in the Works

May 31, 2010 - Happy Memorial Day to my USA fans! And hello to everyone else!
I'm designing a new piece, writing up the instructions, and I'm going to publish them. I finished the piece, and I think I can make it better, but first I want to publish the instructions, so I took a picture of the piece as-is. I'll re-do the piece another day, as I think I can improve on the design by making chain maille that is just a little smaller in diameter than the focal piece of pearls and sapphires.
This means there will be before and after photos that will show the design process. And of course... the leftovers from what I take off this piece will become something else. The picture below is before:

Designer Jewelry-Chain Maille Necklace with pearls and sapphires
Who knows? Making writing up the instructions and publishing them won't take all day and I'll get to do the chain maille improvement. However, publishing a pattern that fast would be a first.
I made this piece to match a bead crochet bracelet I made:
Designer Jewelry-Pearl and sapphire bead crochet bracelet
I have used every sapphire from the strand I bought, so if I am going to make matching earrings (of course I am!), I will have to buy another strand of sapphires.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Getting Back to the Basics

Over the years, I have spent quite a bit of time grappling with new techniques, learning new stitches, and expanding my repertoire of jewelry making skills. Every now and then, it's good to get back to the basics. I love doing bead crochet. While I was learning, I used three different colors and beaded six in the round, creating stripes. I went on to do different size beads, adding gemstones and pearls, and different Czech pressed glass beads. Some of my pieces are composed of just very fine beads, such as the 24 karat gold lined crystal beads that are Czech vintage beads from the 1920s. The beads alone make the piece beautiful.

While planning for a trip to Pittsburgh, I decided that I would make a bead crochet bracelet upon which just the beauty of the beads would carry the piece. I did not have time to design anything complicated, nor time to pick one bead up at a time if I were to have the beads strung before I left.

Using just one kind of bead makes a simple bracelet, but loading them up onto Jean stitch is easy because you can use a bead spinner.I chose Delicas number 502, which is a 22 karat gold bead that has a lovely lavender iris finish. These beads are discontinued and Myuki no longer makes them. I bought them at a closeout, and only have a limited supply. These beads are some of the nicest I have ever seen though. I was going to do a simple bracelet with an invisible join.

However, as I got closer to finishing this strand, I received some 14 karat gold-filled findings, which included bead caps that fit the end of this strand perfectly. Doing an invisible join is something that took me awhile to learn, and most of my bead crochet bracelets do have the invisible join. Using end findings is a way that those who cannot perfect the technique of the invisible join can still make beautiful bracelet. It occurred to me that just because I COULD do an invisible join didn't mean I HAD to do an invisible join. The result is this delicate bracelet which is really quite pretty. I am glad I decided not to do an invisible join because the clasp and the findings add quite a bit to the design. You can still roll the bracelet onto your wrist, just as you can with any bead crochet bracelet, but the clasp is there if you want to put it on in the more traditional manner.

Moral of the story: Your knowledge of complicated techniques does not detract from the beauty of simple techniques. Get back to the basics every now and then.

Picture of Bracelet

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