Thursday, October 30, 2008

One Thread, Two Thread, Red Thread, Blue Thread

Is Dr. Suess in the house? Oh, that's right he was talking about fish. No fish here, just some comments about which thread to use.

Hopefully, the chart on the right shows up well enough to see the way different colored threads affect the look of the beads. This chart was an item Diane Fitzgerald used in her class on Gingko Leaves. I hope she doesn't mind that I am showing it here. I was amazed that with opaque beads, the thread made that much difference.

These four little swatches were worked in peyote stitch with the color of thread noted to the side, all using the same yellow opaque bead. The swatch marked red looks like it rusted, the blue looks like an olive that has been in the martini too long, and the purple just looks muddy. The cream makes the beads glow.

Now I'm not saying you can't use a darker thread or a different color, just as long as you know what the finished item will look like. You may want to create a new color or cause a color shift in the work, especially if it enhances the beads around it. Also, if you can't find the right shade of a particular color bead, this is certainly one way to do it. The caution is be careful not to dull the work.

Another good example of thread color making a difference appears in an article by Australian beader, Jill Oxton in her Cross Stitch and Beading Magazine, Issue 58 where she shows on Page 22, two samples of a beaded picture of a Sugar Glider (small Australian marsupial) that are strikingly different. She used silver and black thread in one picture and all black thread in the other. The one with all black thread looks dull and lifeless. The other one sparkles and animates the little fellow very well.

I know that Fireline is a favorite of many beaders because of it's strength and tendency not to split or fray, but since it only comes in two colors, Smoke and Crystal, just look at what adding other colors to your work may do. Recently I tried a new thread called One G. It's as if they put all the best of the colors in thread (Nymo, Silamide, Conso, etc) together in a more Fireline-like product. It is a bit more expensive, but to get good results using color, this is a great new product. And I hope that the more we use it, the quicker the price will drop.

One thread I frequently use is Power Pro. It is another fishing line like Fireline, but for me it doesn't seem to tangle as much and I find it easier to undo when it does tangle. It does require sharp scissors (Fiskars) to cut it cleanly and because it is braided, it is hard to get through a needle smaller than a Size 10. I flatten the end with pliers (or more often than not, with my teeth.)
It too, only comes in two colors, Moss Green and White for beading, but the fishing stores and manufacturer have other colors available, including blue, red and yellow. I also think it ties firmer and stays in place better since it has a bit more texture.

An example of using Power Pro or Fireline to its best advantage went into this bracelet. Because of the weight, I needed the base to be very secure.

Another note for beaders looking for bargains, both Fireline and Power Pro are much cheaper if purchased from fishing stores rather than bead stores. The quantity spooled for beads is much smaller and we all know that packaging smaller quantites makes products cost more. It is another way to look out for our environment.

No matter which thread you choose, always give the finished look your first consideration in making that decision.

Tip for today: Threading needles - have you tried needling the thread?

Pinch the thread between the thumb and forefinger and pull it so the end of the thread just begins to disappear. Then, pinching your fingers slightly tighter, push the eye of the needle over the thread. For the longest time, I couldn't do this and realized I was letting too much thread show. Now I can do this successfully about 98% of the time. Try it.
Bead on,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Beady Day

Do you know what lentil beads are? Not beans, beads. Well here's a picture. These are Swarovski crystal lentils. Size 10mm in Vitrail Medium II. They are drilled from front to back with the hole being set to one side. They look a lot like a rivoli with a hole in it. I found them in two stores, Beyond Beadery in Colorado and Beads Gone Wild in West Palm Beach.

I fell in love with them after a friend asked me to repair a necklace that her aunt had given her. The necklace was completely unstrung, so I didn't know how to put it back together. I searched the internet and found some examples from the 1940's and 50's where the vintage crystals were strung. One was up and the beads on either side hung down, but you were looking at them from the side, so you didn't get the full impact of their beauty.

Since then, I have purchased over 100 and here is but one of the ideas I've had for them. The rope is Herringbone (Ndebele) spiral, then straight across the front, then spiralling again. When the rope was complete, I then anchored the thread at the straight area and criss-crossed over the rope adding a lentil at each point on the bottom.

Another pattern appeared in a beading magazine that had the lentils standing up using the Ndebele stitch. I worked a bracelet of lentils that are not crystal, as the edges are too sharp on the crystal. The beads have a finish that makes them look like they just washed up on the beach, very much like labradorite.

Here's a picture of the crystals from another angle that shows how sharp the edges are. Beautiful, but deadly, especially on a bracelet.

Next time you're shopping, if you see lentils, give them a try.

Today's tip: Needles that are hard to thread may be turned backwards. Roll the needle around and come in from the other side. The eye is punched out with a bevel shaped die and sometimes the back side is not as cleanly cut as the front, thus making it harder to put thread through it.

Happy beading, Marilyn

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beading Ideas

In today's economy, beading and other crafts are filling the need to be creative, yet keep the budget to a minimum. In my blog, I will share ideas, tip and techniques and the occassional pattern.

The necklace in this blog came about in an unusual way. I had taught a class on Russian Leaves (peeking out from behind) and made a pair of pink earrings. A friend of mine (Sharon) took them as soon as she saw them. Months later she gave them back saying she would never wear them. So I created this necklace with the netted flower from Barb Grainger's book, a lampwork bead from a mutual friend, Sally and called it Rose of Sharon. From this piece, I have gotten some notice when Sharon wears it and I'll be teaching a class in the Mellwood Art Center in Louisville, Ky. at the bead store there on Nov. 8th.
The class prpject photo is shown below.

I belong to a number of online beading groups who share their treasures with the group. It is a great feeling to get an e-mail with a compliment on your latest piece of art. And these beaders are often eager to share their ideas and expertise. Some of the beaders are new and just learning and it reminds me of when I was a beginner-back in 1986. Amazing how much I have learned and yet how much there is to learn.

As a beader who specializes in off-loom beadweaving, most of the items I make are for the enjoyment of beading, but I do share them with family and friends as gifts. On occassion someone purchases something I've made and it give me great satisfaction to know my work has been appreciated.

Todays's tip is to bead what you like and do your best. This may sound simple, but behind the simplicity is the desire to sell or impress or turn out quantity rather than quality. If you focus on doing what you like to do, you are more likely to end up with a better product. It doesn't matter if you prefer stringing or weaving, quality should be the end result.