Monday, 31 March 2008

Spring has sprung (at last)

Spring is here at last...or so it seems. Moving the clocks forward on Saturday night, to mark the start of 'British Summer Time', has prompted a change in the weather. Lets hope that it lasts. I love flowers and find them a constant source of inspiration. My Other Half and I don't have a garden but we do have an allotment. I am ashamed to say that I don't spend as much time, or work as hard on it, as he does. We have one area of the plot dedicated to flowers and last year we planted lots of bulbs, hoping to flood it with colour in the Spring. A few weeks ago we were rewarded with a wonderful show of crocuses. This year I have vowed to go up the allotment more and help out. As well as enhancing my well being - all that exercise and fresh air - it will hopefully feed my creativity at the same time.

Despite having lots of work to do on my current passionflower project I allowed myself to get distracted last week. I made myself a bracelet. It was inspired by 'Crystals Across' designed by Julie Walker and published in the October 2007 'Bead and Button' magazine. I followed Julie's basic design, simplifying it in places and using my own choice of beads. I decided to use the crocuses as my inspiration for the colours - blue and green of course. As often happens the bracelet turned out very different from my imagination. In short I don't like it and will probably be 'frogged' and the beads re-used. I will wear it a couple of times before I do that. Who knows I might grow to like it after a while. I should have done some small samples of the stitch first to test the colours and textures but instead I ploughed straight in, despite what my C & G Tutor Jane has told us repeatedly.

The completed 'Crocus' bracelet.

Close up of the bracelet. I used freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals to give it sparkle.

A vintage glass button used as a clasp.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

I must go down to the seas again...

I have lived by the sea for most of my life and I absoulutely love it. One of my favourite things to do on a dry Winter's day is to walk along the beach. I particularly enjoy it when it is cold and blustery, long after the tourists have disappeared and only the hardiest of locals venture out. Recently I was sorting through some boxes and came across a photo of me taken by my Dad on Plymouth Hoe. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time and was wearing a 'pixie' hat lovingly made by my Mum. It was obviously a cold and windy day but it brought back so many happy memories. Years later, whilst living in Brighton, one of my favourite things to do on a Winter Sunday was a bracing walk along the seafront ending up in a small cafe by the pier drinking scalding hot cups of strong tea. I now am lucky enough to live only a few minutes walk from the beach. I love the Summer and sunshine but there is just something about walking along the beach on a cold day listening to the waves breaking on the shore. One of my favourite poems as a child was 'Sea Fever' by John Masefield and it is still special to me today.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.

(Extract from Sea Fever by John Masefield)

My City & Guilds tutor Jane is immensley talented so when she ran a one day beading workshop last year I jumped at the chance to attend. We made netted ruffle bracelets, designed by Jane. Looking through her samples, at the beginning of the class, I was vividly reminded of waves breaking on the shore. I decided to base my bracelet on this idea. It is now one of my favourite pieces of jewellery. So comfortable to wear and very tactile.

This is one of Jane's most popular designs and you can see why.

A close-up of the netting ruffles on the bracelet. They give it a lovely 'crunchy' texture.

A close-up of the netted back of the bracelet. The ruffles can also be worked on a band of peyote stitch.

I didn't have a suitable button to use as a closure. I covered a plastic shirt button with circular peyote stiitch.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Knitting and other pleasures

OK, so what place does a post about knitting have on a beading blog I hear you ask. Well, put quite simply I have recently been inspired to pick up my needles again. For the last 3 years I have been doing various beading courses, currently a City & Guilds Bead Needle Weaving Level 2. This has left very little time in my life for my other loves - knitting and sewing. In fact life recently seems to consist of wake up, go to work, go home, eat, bead for an hour or two and then sleep again. And so the days fly past. (I can't believe that it is almost April again!) Two weeks ago I attended a craft group started by two of my friends. I was suddenly reminded of why I love spending time with creative people - their generosity and support. Two people have started knitting again after a long gap and another is venturing into patchwork for the first time. Seeing their enthusiasm and talent has inspired me. When I returned home I leafed through some of my knitting and patchwork books and contemplated my fairly substantial yarn and fabric stash. However for the time being I need to concentrate on my beading. I must not be distracted!

I have been struggling with my latest beading project recently, a decorative object based on passion flowers. The aim is to cover a vase with flowers, leaves and tendrils and then add a bug or two. So far I have covered most of the vase and sampled the flowers but it is not coming easily.

Easter weekend was great. I was lucky enough to get the whole four days off and I really enjoyed them. The only grey spot (literally!) was the weather. I had arranged to meet up with some friends to visit a local garden on Sunday which was open as part of the National Gardens Scheme. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain on Sunday morning so we had to cancel. Instead I spent a happy day beading while my other half baked bread and hot cross buns. On Monday my husband came up with the idea of going to visit another garden which is only open to the public occaisionally. We spent much of our time sheltering under trees to escape the hail and sleet showers. I did enjoy myself despite the unseasonal weather and took lots of pictures, but I wish that I had worn my thermal underwear!

A brief sunny spell between hail showers. I caught sight of this shadow on the wall whilst setting up another shot. It shows how strong the sun was that day

Spring is here! I love hellebores and so could not resist taking this shot. Their ability to bloom in even the severest weather always amazes me.
I would love to design a range of beadwork around these beautiful flowers.