My Beadwork Blog and Gallery

Beading is a bit of an obsession. My beadwork blog is home to my thoughts on pieces I am working on, techniques I am learning, and my beading inspirations. I live in Bournemouth, Dorset and am mum to two gorgeous young children. I volunteer at both school and toddler group, and work part-time in online ad production. I try to fit in as much beading here and there as I can, for both relaxation, and to stretch and expand my creative side. I've learnt a variety of textile crafts over the years, but have always loved jewellery-making. I enjoy wirework, but beadweaving and bead embroidery have proved to be my favourite mediums, and it is these types of beadwork that I always seem to come back to. I love the colour and feel of beads, planning new projects, learning new techniques and of course, bead shopping! I read a wide variety of beading magazines and books, and apart from the occasional workshop, am primarily self-taught.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Nancy Dale ' 50% off Sale for Nikita'

I am very excited to be the lucky purchaser of some gorgeous earrings from Nancy's site, which I am hoping arrive before my holiday so I can show them off! If you are not aware of Nancy's sale, this is a chance to own some stunning beadwork by a true professional.

Please check out Nancy's blog on the right, or on the link here, for details of the fantastic sale that she is holding to raise funds for Nikki's vet bills. This sale goes on until Thursday night I believe, so check out her amazing work on Etsy  here and contact her about any item you would like to buy!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Nearly there with my Blue Vintage Cabochon Bead Embroidered Collar!

Apologies for this being the first post in six weeks! I still have some pieces to add to my galleries, but it has been a choice of blogging or beading around the everyday melee. Beading won and as a result this collar is taking a shorter time to complete than my Green Shell Cabochon Collar.

Here it is so far - I have embroidered, embellished, lined, and backed with ultrasuede, so I just have the edging and some fringe to go!

It would have been even quicker if I hadn't spent so much time unpicking it! My initial design only used the large focal cabochon, but I then added the smaller ones and edged them all with sequins.

 As I beaded, I realised that the two styles I was trying to combine just didn't go together.  I wanted a one piece collar, but the way it was going it would only have worked by splitting it up into components and then reattaching them. So after much unpicking and re-stitching, I now have a collar I am happy with. Although revising a design can often make it a great design, this time I should have trusted my instincts first time round.

This has been interesting in a way as I do now have a design for some lovely small pendants and earrings or smaller necklace components.

I will post a photo of the collar when I have edged and fringed it over the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for following!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

New bead embroidered collar project

I still need to update my galleries with recent wirework, bead embroidery and bead weaving projects, some of which have appeared in my posts, but I thought I would post a couple of photos of a new project I'm designing in the meantime.

I'm using seed beads, delicas, size 13 czech charlottes (these have a good sparkle but aren't as tiny as the 15s) and vintage facetted acrylic cabochons. I'm also having my first go at using sequins using stop-stitch.

Here is the central section;

And here is how it fits into the overall design so far;

I'm using the bottom guideline, and the second one at the top as an outline.

I was originally using the outer lines to create a more pointed collar, but as I've beaded I've revised both the width and shape of the collar band. I had originally sketched out a couple of designs, one very simple and one with more of an opulent feel., both with some fringe. Having worked with the cabachons for a while I've gone with the more opulent design, plus I'm watching a lot of 'Horrible Histories' with the children so am probably a bit inspired by some of the Tudor and Georgian costumes!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

I've finished my first bead embroidered collar!

After spending some time considering colour and shape of clasp, I've finally completed my very first bead embroidered collar. I put a picture of it on facebook yesterday and have had some great feedback, so for those first to see it, here it is!

I am very pleased with it - although I used a combinatin of freeform and symmetrical in the design during the actual beading, I am happy that for my first neckpiece it has turned out so well. It is very comfortable to wear and is reasuringly heavy rather than being uncomfortably so, and is easily wearable.  The large shell design cabochons are 30mm in diameter, so the depth of the front of the collar is approximately double that - quite deep and a good area for embroidering. I planned the collar to be this size so it would be bold enough with simple edging without fringe - any fringed ones I make will probably be narrower to take this into account.
I will endeavour to take some better photos for when I add it to my gallery! As mentioned before, the vintage cabochons are from Rosebudlia. Sue has very kindly featured this on her front page! These cabs are very easy to bead around, and are a good weight if you use a few of them. Stones would have made this collar much heavier.

These photos show the back with fern green ultrasuede, and the clasp. I used the attachment method Sherry Serafini outlines in her 'Sensational Bead Embroidery book, to give me a 6cm gap at the back for correct fitting.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Bead embroidered collar - bead embroidery is nearly finished!

Thanks to all the bank holidays recently I've made a lot of progress on my bead embroidered collar. After bezelling the cabochons I started the fill-in beading at the back of the neck straps. As this is my first collar I wanted any minor imperfections to be less noticeable if I didn't want to unpick them. This has proved to be a very good idea!  The embroidery I've done as I've neared the front is definitely smoother, and this has also helped me decide where the design is going. 

I am also loving beading on Lacy's Stiff Stuff - the shrinkage is not as bad as with ultrasuede with my tight tension, and it feels great to handle. I am nearly used to beading on a white background, although I will be applying my new Sharpie pens to any gaps that seem too white! I am hoping to finish the embroidery this weekend, and add any embellishments, before hopefully backing it. I then have to decide on the clasp.

Anyway, unfortunately my photos of the collar a little further on have not come out very well, so here is a snippet of one of the neckstraps to give you an idea of where it's going........

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Lots to update!

I have a lot of pictures to put up of wirework birthday projects that have been completed, the results of my Jean Power geometric beading course and my bead embroidered collar. Hopefully I shall get a chance to do so during the long weekend so please do check back next week.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Completely inspired.....

There are some fantastic bead artists out there and I am enjoying finding new beading blogs and seeing such amazing pieces - they truly are an art form.

Last night I sat and read my copy of Sherry Serafini's 'Sensational Bead Embroidery' from cover to cover and it's made me ping off all over the place with ideas, particularly since I'm a cabochon obsessive!  It really makes a difference having the designs in print in your hands, and this is such a breathtaking book! It is the first book I've had which on first flick - through I've been instantly torn between reading it and getting a new project together!

'The Art of Bead Embroidery' made me try to source the same components and make projects from the book -this time two years on I'm confident enough to enjoy the designs but want to use the techniques with my own ideas and colour pallet.

One birthday present down, one more to go.......

I have completed one of the beady birthday presents - a scissor case and keeper. I went to the Beadwork Fair in Poole in February and fell in love with this kit from Pandorian Beads.  I haven't done brick stitch for a while but it was very easy to pick up again and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I did keep getting carried away with the meditative stitching and forgetting the non-blue beads so did have to unpick it a couple of times. My intention was to make one for myself too but I have too many ideas for new projects to keep to that one! My next project has to be two necklaces with earrings,  using large link chain and gemstone beads chosen at the bead fair, but I am so switched on by beadwork and bead embroidery (and so NOT switched on with that sort of beading at the moment) I really can't get any enthusiasm together for it at all.  I am going to mock up a couple of components for approval before completing the whole projects so will let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Insanely excited - have ordered Sherry Serafini's new book!

I have had Sherry Serafini's Sensational Bead Embroidery book on pre-order with Amazon for months. First it was due in April, and I was so disappointed when I got an email pushing it back to July. Today I've checked my Facebook and Stitch n Craft have got it in today! I've never been on the phone so quickly and it is now on its way! You can order it on my link to the right in my shops list, or for speed you can find it at

The countdown begins!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Bead Embroidered Collar Design additions

I am having a tiny enforced break on this as I need to bead two birthday presents and catch up on work, but this is where I got to last weekend.

I've added some random stone pear shaped stone beads and beaded around them with gold 15 seed beads. The next step is to stitch on groups of green freshwater pearls and then complete the final embroidering.

New lists!

There are some absolutely amazing bead artists to be found in blogs, books and online at the moment, and I owe my interest and most of the techniques I've learnt to many of them. I've finally got round to my 'inspiration' lists, which are now on the right. Many of my projects involve sourcing materials that often have US brand names, or are only just becoming more readily available over here, so  I have also added a shopping list too.  These shops sell a huge amount of beading products, but I've mentioned where I've unusual materials that not everyone stocks, or repeat orders.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Bead Embroidered Collar design is evolving

I had some time to bead at the weeekend so my collar is coming along very nicely. It took several attempts to measure up and customise the template that Sherry Serafini works to in 'The Art of Bead Embroidery' and ensure that it fitted me and the sheets of Lacy's Stiff Stuff and ultrasuede backing. Now I have this template I can use it to speed up future projects. The Lacy's is great for glueing cabochons - ultrasuede is good but this just has the edge in drying speed. So far I've bezelled my cabochons with peyote stitch, using delicas and size 15 seed beads as you can see here. As mentioned, I glued them in place with multi- purpose glue (Wilkinson's own, perfect glue but the fumes are quite strong) so they don't need the peyote for security - I just love the intricate look of this style of bezel and will probably use it in most of my designs somewhere.

Now the cabachons are in place, the colour scheme is changing somewhat from how I envisaged -  the peach beads that I was planning to use now don't look quite right. The design is evolving to be very green, gold and black based, and much darker than originally planned, so that's the way I'm going with it. This photo was taken when I'd completed the first row of backstitch round the cabachons on the right hand side, using size 11 seed beads and hex-cuts. Now that part is finished,  I've been laying out beads and smaller cabs and taking photos to see which feel right, and am now have the collar in my kitchen to look at so I can think about it and have a play whenever I go past.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Bead embroidery materials in the UK

I am particularly pleased with my Blue Shell Cabachon Cuff, which was a great experience in how much you may need to change a design, to both get it to work and show off the materials to best effect. I have aspired to bead larger cuffs and embroidered collars for a long time now, which is becoming easier now cuff blanks, ultrasuede and cabachons can be sourced within the UK, rather than ordering from the US where bead embroidery is much more popular.

Many of the US designers use beautiful semi-precious stone cabachons, which can make the finished jewellery expensive to make and heavy to wear. Vintage cabachons come in a huge range of colours, patterns and finishes whilst keeping cost and weight down, and there is something very satisfying in using cabachons with a past in one of your pieces.

My next ongoing big project is a beaded collar with green and peach shell patterned cabachons. I am going to make this more freeform and use more texture than in my pieces so far.

Lacy's Stiff Stuff has arrived!

.....and it is lovely! I am used to a much more flexible beading surface and I wondered if my technique would be different on a stiffer one, but I am really enjoying it so far.  I may be using the wrong side as it is a bit fluffy occasionally, but the shrinkage does seem less with stitch tension so far which is a plus.

 I still have a bit more pearl embellishment to do on my Laura McCabe cuff, but as it's hard to add more pearls without the thread getting tangled a lot (however I hold it) to prevent me messing it up or throwing it against the wall at this late stage I'm only doing a couple at a time.

Which means a new project and I am finally doing the collar that I've been wanting to do ever since discovering bead embroidery courtesy of 'The Art of Bead Embroidery'' by Sherry Serafini and Heidi Kummli. Sherry's new book has been held up until July which gives me time to get this done first!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Ultrasuede or Lacey's Stiff Stuff?

I am busy planning my collar, and after my blue shell cabachon cuff I am having a rethink about which materials to use.
I usually embroider on ultrasuede; it feels great to the touch whilst working, comes in many colours, is flexible and as with my cuff, it can be left unbeaded as part of the design. I started using it as an economical option - I bought a pack of about 100 off-cuts from the US, which are perfect for pendants and smaller cuffs. Now I'm moving onto larger beaded cuffs and collars larger sized pieces are needed.
During the beading of my cuff, it became easier to stitch the more surface I beaded, and the stiffer it became. I also doubt that the beadwork would have needed as much manipulation to attach it to the cuff blank if the beading foundation had been stiffer. It will be interesting to see how the shrinkage compares between the two foundations and a nice option to be able to draw on a design to bead on.

So despite resisting to start with I'm going to order some Lacey's in the largest size and go from there.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Galleries have now been updated!

I have had a chance to put up the completed projects from the last few months - please view them in the bead embroidery, beadwork and wirework galleries.

Friday, 18 February 2011

More finished pieces coming shortly!

I have some more photos of projects to upload,  so please check back over the next couple of days for new  more finished beadwork, bead embroidery and wirework projects, some of which are the missing ones of gifts that have kindly been retaken for me.

In the meantime, here is my progress so far with the cabachon bracelet - fully assembled and with just the pearl and charlotte embellishments to go!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Bead any time, any place, anywhere?

Beading is normally a very mobile craft, but I attempted some on a rare trip on a lengthy train journey yesterday. I often give up with beading in the car as everything is too jerky, but thought the train would be ideal. Not quite! Although the pull down table needed a bit of leaning across, and it was a bit more fiddly than usual picking up size 15 seed beads, it was threading needles that really had me thwarted -I had to resort to waiting until we stopped at a station on a couple of occasions. I will pack bigger beads or collapsible eye needles for my next train project I think!

Bead Embroidered Cabochon Bracelet

At the moment I am completely obsessed with bead embroidery and cabochons.
I got the Laura McCabe's Embellished Beadweaving book for my birthday in November, and it's been  a great inspiration. You can find it here:

I've seen her handiwork at an exhibition at Stitch n Craft, and it is absolutely exquisite - you forget the real size of the actual pieces as you get used to seeing close up photography in print. I booked a place on her Travellers' Tales workshop there but due to date changes had to cancel, so her books will give me a chance to practise her techniques more before I try to book again.

Although I am more likely to substitute beads in designs for similar ones that I either prefer or are already in my stash, I did have fun sourcing size 15 Czech Charlottes. I can't believe how much smaller these are than size 15 seed beads!

So far I've bead embroidered cabochon elements and embellished them with size 15 seed beads and size 13 charlottes (a good crystal substitute).

I've then cut them out and backed them, and am now on the peyote stitched rings for the rest of the strap and the toggle. The plain ring below I had to redo as I did too many rows of delicas.

One more ring, toggle bar and then assembling and embellishing and I'm done.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Finally winning with unfinished projects....

Belated Happy New Year!

Although I haven't posted recently I have managed to get a fair amount of beading done over the Christmas holidays so do actually have something to report! I am hoping to be posting much more frequently

I have completed the Dutch Spiral necklace I've been working on for months (photo up shortly) and have also finally finished the Spiral Rope to go with Helen's gorgeous lampwork focal from my first ever post. I am however in two minds over how to attach the lampwork bead, so that is sitting in my kitchen 'beading area' so that I can contemplate it whenever I pass by.

In the meantime I am working towards finishing an embellished bead embroidered bracelet designed by Laura McCabe and designing a blue shell cabachon cuff to match my last pendant.