A regular spot from team member Lynn Davy, a self-confessed bead addict whose unusual designs often feature lampwork beads. In this series she shares some of her secrets and shows you how to use FHFteam’s handmade beads and components in your own creations!
One, Two, Three, Four… making best use of even-numbered bead sets
Happy New Year everybody!
Oops, my finger slipped! A haul of goodies from FHFteam members including Jolene Wolfe, Helen Clemons, Jeanniegems, Sabine Little, Hazel Ward, Helen Gorick, Ilona Ruttle, Helen Chalmers and Heather Webb
I was looking through my stash of handmade beads (as you do) and realised that I seemed to have several sets with even numbers of beads. It started me musing on ways to use them…
Odd numbers of beads are easy to use in designing. One, you use as a pendant or focal. Three, five, seven… you put the biggest or prettiest in the middle and build outwards.
‘Treasures of Atlantis’ bracelet with lampwork by Heather Webb and beaded bead spacers by me
But an even number? Well, OK, two is easy, you make earrings, and several of our members make ‘earring pairs’ for that very reason.
Earring pairs by Julia Hay; copper spirals by Diane Cook
But four, six, eight? You often find you wish you had just one more, or that you have one left over.
One simple solution is to bring in a solo act from another maker, and use it as a focal or a pendant along with your even-numbered set. To make an even-numbered set into a bracelet, just use an odd number of something else in between. That’s what I did in this necklace and bracelet set – there are three big black lava beads in the bracelet, alternating with the four lampies.
‘Dark Materials’ bracelet and necklace with suncatcher by Helen Clemons and an eight-bead set of lentils by Ilona Ruttle. Silk ribbon by SowZeRe and copper rings and spiral by Diane Cook
And of course I sometimes like to cheat and make a beaded bead focal
Filling the gaps brings us nicely to this month’s mini-tutorial, which will be about beaded spacer beads. These add a nice touch of texture to all sorts of lampwork projects and are particularly useful when you’re short of a bead or two, or need to get the length of a piece exactly right.
But first you have to do a bit of designing to work out what you need…
F’r example. I fell for this fabulous eight-bead polymer clay set and toggle and wanted to make a bracelet and earrings. Take two out for the earrings and that leaves six for the bracelet.
Floral beads and toggle by Hazel Ward
I took a bit of spare beading wire (also sometimes called ‘cable’) and tried out some ideas.
This was quite nice, and the green flash on the labradorite matched the green of the polymer beautifully, but…
...the labradorite was very flat and it was too much like a watch. (And those very sweet pink glass spacers on the rightmost bead were just too strong a colour edge-on.)
This also looked hopeful, but…
… it was too short to allow the toggle to fasten (it’s always worth making a proper mock-up with a handmade toggle, to check the bar will pull through the loop). And all the colours were very soft and there was no definition – it needed something to pick up the intensity of the metallic flecks in the polymer.
By now I had a pretty good idea of how much extra length I needed, so I tinkered around and decided that beaded bead spacers with a foundation of a darker colour (it’s a weird but very useful one called metallic khaki iris, to which I added a touch of metallic gold) were the way to go. I made three, and alternated them with pairs of amazonite chips, adding a couple of rose quartz beads at the ends. Result.
I used more rose quartz and amazonite in the earrings too.
Tutorial: Beaded spacer beads
A simple little ‘ladder’ stitched strip, joined into a tube and decorated with some extra beads. If you’re new to seed beading you might want to try it with a base of size 8’s first so it’s not quite so small and fiddly while you’re working out where the thread should go next. But once you’ve made one or two, you’ll be doing it in your sleep…
1. You will need:
· Size 8 seed beads – these are bigger and will be called ‘B’ in the instructions – I used a mix of colours because I get bored easily
· Size 15 seed beads – these are tiny and will be known as ‘C’… if you don’t have any, just use size 11 ‘A’ instead
· Beading thread such as ‘Nymo’ or ‘K.O.’ – I’ve used a deep gold to give me an extra colour (and show up better in the photos)
2. Thread your needle with an arm’s length of thread and tie on a ‘stop bead’ (blue in the photos) by going through it twice in the same direction. You will take this bead off again at the end. Pick up six A beads, making the 2nd and 5th a contrasting colour.
3. Stitch through the first three beads again, in the same direction.
4. Pull the thread so the two sets of three beads sit side by side. Now go through the second set of three again. This is called ‘ladder’ stitch.
5. Carry on adding sets of three (making the middle one a contrasting colour each time) until you have five ‘rungs’ in your ‘ladder’. (Four is too few. You can use six if you want to make your beads slightly bigger or with a regular pattern. Seven is too big and floppy for this design.)
6. Roll your ladder into a little tube and stitch the ends together.
7. The fun part now. Come out of one of your contrasting beads in the middle of a rung, and pick up a B (size 8) and a C (size 15). These will make a sort of mini-fringe to give your bead volume and texture.
8. Go back through the B (the C will hold it in place) and stitch through the contrasting bead where your thread was coming out – stitch in the same direction (so if your thread exited at the top of the bead, stitch into the bottom of the bead) and carry on to the end of the rung.
9. Go partway through the next rung until you are again exiting the contrast bead in the middle. Add another mini-fringe. Carry on all the way round until you have a mini-fringe on each rung. End-on, it should look like this.
10. You can use the spacers just as they are, but the exposed thread at the ends is at risk of fraying, so I’d suggest weaving up and down, adding an extra bead between each pair of rungs, until your bead looks like this. (This also gives you the chance to add an extra colour.) You may find you need a thinner beading needle if the holes in your beads are tight.
11. Finally, go through all the extra beads to join them together. End-on, your bead should now look like the photo above. Weave the working end of thread into the beadwork, tie a couple of knots (I showed you how in November's tassel tutorial) and trim the end. Then take off the stop bead and finish off the tail thread in the same way.
Thanks for reading, and happy beading!
Members’ shops mentioned in this article:
Helen Chalmers http://www.etsy.com/shop/helenjewellery
Helen Clemons http://www.etsy.com/shop/BlueFairyDesigns
Diane Cook http://www.etsy.com/shop/dilunah for beads and http://www.dilunah.com/index.htm for findings
Helen Gorick http://www.etsy.com/shop/helengbeads
Julia Hay http://www.etsy.com/shop/Pandanimal
Sabine Little http://www.etsy.com/shop/littlecastledesigns
Ilona Ruttle http://www.etsy.com/shop/Fluidglassartbeads
Hazel Ward http://www.etsy.com/shop/ContinuumDesigns
Heather Webb http://www.etsy.com/shop/BumpyBeads
Jolene Wolfe http://www.etsy.com/shop/KitzbitzArtBeads