Sunday, January 24, 2010

What is bead embroidery?

I am often asked act craft shows how I make my jewelry and I try to break it down to a simple general example. So I thought it would be fun to do on my blog too except it is more fun on the blog because I can use photos.

In today's blog I am going to talk about my favorite beading technique....bead embroidery.

Bead embroidery is a very useful technique to learn because with it you can turn a gemstone,shell,button,flat found object into a beautiful piece of jewelry. I love to use it to show off polymer clay pendant bases that I enjoy making.

To begin the pendant I glue the polymer clay base to a square piece of very stiff interfacing and while it's drying I pick out the beads I want to use from my stash.

After the glue dries with a needle and thread I sew on each bead developing the pattern. I'd like to say I start my projects will a clear vision of what it's going to look like but I don't. I usually design my projects as I make them and let the design develop naturally. [photo 1&2].

When all the base patterned beading is done I trim away all the extra interfacing and glue it to a piece of ultra suede backing hiding all the stitches and giving the pendant a a nice finished back. The next step is to stitch the 2 backings together and edge the pendant. Add a beaded bail and the pendant's done. [ photo 3&4]

Next I go through my bead stash find what I like and bead the necklace and TaDa a necklace.....

If you think you might be interested in learning more bead embroidery I recommend buying a copy of Bead and Button or Beadwork magazine and try one of the beginner projects or use the reference section to learn some of the basics to see if it's the technique for you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What is a Polymer Clay Cane?

When people see the things I make they often think the patterns are painted on. I explain that they are made by applying thin slices of " polymer clay canes ". Then they look at me and say "what is a cane?" if you have ever had the same question here is a quick simple explanation with visual aids.

A polymer clay cane is made by blending contrasting colors of clay and forming them into a pattern. I know; it's still confusing....I'll use this simple flower cane to illustrate.

Photo #1
I took the following colors green pearl/blue pearl/white pearl and blended them together to form the striped pattern for a single flower petal and I wrapped it in a sheet of pearl clay. Then I "reduced" it; [squeezed it to make it longer] , and cut it into 8 equal lengths.

Photo #2
I took each of the 8 pieces and shaped them like a flower petal. I took the 8 petals and arranged them around a yellow center to form a flower shape.

Photo #3
I took translucent polymer clay and "packed" or wrapped it around the flower shape to help everything hold it's place during reduction.

Photo #4
I took the 3 inch wrapped and packed cane and redused it buy squeezing ,pulling and rolling it until the tube measured about 1/2 inch around and then cut it into 6 2x1/2 inch canes ready to use on projects. Just like the Pillsbury cookie dough at the store the flower pattern goes all the way through the cane.

That is how a polymer clay cane is made....Have I further confused you? I hope not; I hope I have intrigued you enough to learn to do it too.....