Monday, September 28, 2009

Today's good news is that there is a source (in the U.S.) for ETIMO cushion grip crochet hooks: Knitty City in New York City. The manufacturer, Tulip Co., came from Japan to exhibit at TNNA this past June, hoping to find a wholesaler for their line of crochet hooks, needles, knitting needles and felting supplies.
Remember, Tulip Co sponsored my feltmaking book that I wrote for the Japanese craft market and is published by Patchwork Tsushin Co. Would that I could have written it in Japanese. Instead, my manuscript is in English and Motoko Natsubori translated it into Japanese.
Anyway, I had joined Tulip Co owner and staff in their exhibit at TNNA. We met Pearl Chin of Knitty City. She is carrying the crochet hooks and is happy to do mail order as well as walk-in sales. Click on link and you're half way there!
Kinokuniya Bookstore in Manhattan carries all my books, this one plus the English language ones.
On October 25 I'll be teaching a needle felting workshop from 2-5. Expect to create an ornament, pendant or brooch while learning this fascinating technique, for only $25, includes materials. Limited to 20 so register now: 212-869-1700. I'll have a trunk show there and, of course, sign books!
A previously felted and lined purse is the "canvas" for sampling several techniques in embellishment and surface design in a workshop I taught Thursday at Beadzo and will teach this coming weekend at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival.
Beads are added with embroidery and as edgings. A felt needle is used to apply color and texture using feathers, colored wool, and synthetic fibers. This weekend I will also teach 2 wet feltmaking classes: a felt flower and felted bangle bracelet. The classes are only $35 each and the materials kept at $10 for each of the wet and $15 for the felted purse and all tools and supplies.
Pictured here are Tara's, Kaja's, Pamela's, Cookie's works in progress from Thursday evening's class at Beadzo in Tivoli, NY. (Website is still coming, meanwhile, their phone number is 845-757-5306 to reserve your seat for the next class (October 15).

Here is a simple and handy tool for both beadwork AND feltmaking. It is a rubber finger for collating, counting paper money and filing. I found them the stationary store in boxes of a dozen, sized small, medium or large. I was teaching the complex cane hand felted beads workshop and warning the class that winding the wool takes its toll on your index finger and thumb. A clever participant recommended these. They helped.
While beading this weekend I discovered another use. When it was difficult to pull the needle through the beads, I slipped my index finger into it and was able to pull the needle through. Then I just slipped my finger out and kept on beading.
This pentagram/pentagon shaped pendant of Swarovski 4mm bicone crystals is lovely to wear and a delight to make. More importantly, the teacher in me adores this project as a vehicle to teach easily and joyfully the versatility of cubic right angle weave. The newly designed chain is strong and durable although composed of sharp crystals.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The flat corrugated beadwork that I have been developing is reversible and, well, last night they called it magical, when I taught it at Beads by Blanche in Bergenfield NJ. The project for the workshop is called Two Sides to the Story and is a reversible bracelet. A button works well but I found these magnetic tube closures that are perfect for this.
Before everybody got away, I remembered to take a shot to share with you. These happy beaders are Ann, Allison, Jolene, Wendy and Pat. (Yes, you recognize Pat Riesner from previous posts.)
It was fascinating to see each beaders take on color. Sometimes I have to admit to occurances of bead envy.
When one encounters a product called "speed beader", don't ya just HAVE to check it out? Well, I ordered one right away so we could share it here. If you click on the name, you can watch their video.
Fran assembled this wooden loom-like item composed of a "dental molding" frame and opposing uprights, easily with a philipshead screwdriver, while I made notes and took these photos.
On the uprights are screws with rubber "nuts" that are meant to secure a single strand of beads. There are 3 sets of screws with a floating upright of 3 screws to accomodate shorter strands.
TIP: Wind the end of the strand around the screw in the same direction as the screw tightens (righty-tighty, lefty-loosey, as they say) so it does not loosen as you tighten the screw.
A caliper is provided so that a determined number of beads can be separated from the rest for easy restringing. This is to eliminate the need to count the beads each time. So, for this trial run, Fran suspended a strand from each of 3 hanks of Czech seed beads. She had to carefully untie each hank. She threaded a spool of fireline onto a size 10 needle and strung about 1.5 inches of beads from each strand in turn until all three strands were restrung.

When she loosened the screws she held the new thread in a deathgrip and pulled the original threads from the strands. The results: about 5' of size 11 beads strung in the chosen pattern in under an hour.
We imagine that practice, bead size and complexity of pattern will all factor into the time.
What will we do with this? I will slide these beads from the fireline onto bead crochet thread. I think this produced a pattern of beads for bead crochet in shorter time than if I strung them individually. A stringer would perhaps find this useful if they use many previously strung or Czech seed beads (on hanks) in their work.
If we were to improve on this clever and affordable item we would cut a beading mat to fit into the case for easy pick up of "oops" that fall from the strands during set up. And Fran suggested that a couple additional uprights would make it possible to add several more strands. I agree, I'm picturing druks, leaves, daggers on their short strands stretched out this way.
Ask your beadstore to get this for you if you think it will make your work more efficient. The major beadstore wholesaler, Helby/Beadsmith, has this item in stock for immediate delivery.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This morning the Hand Felted Complex Cane Bead Necklace workshop began by asking each felter to select 12 of the prepared roving segments from the hundreds on hand. They are THIS happy already? What WILL they do when they come around to cutting their canes into beads, and see how fabulous they are?
After a couple hours of building the canes, we broke for lunch. Then we resumed making the canes and felting them. Then came the fulling process. There was only the tiniest hint of whining, and I think it was just to tease me. Alas, we took knives to the canes and beheld the fruits of their labors.
Jan is shown adjusting the length of her necklace before adding the finding.
Connie finished hers and was willing to wear it, even though it was still damp.
I suspect these beaders will be doing some more felting. They all opted to make the optional purchase of the Turbo Felting Boards we used in class.
The Great Lakes Beadworkers' Guild concluded our weekend of workshops with one more meal together. We tried 2Booli, a Mediterranean restaurant new to all of us. I could have had Greek salad, hummous and other familiar foods I love but, since the owners are Lebanese I chose to try their traditional Lebanese fare. Especially since one of the beaders in our party could share with us what she has earned about Lebanese cuisine from meals with her in-laws. The food was fresh and delicious. The crushed lentil soup was smooth and beautifully seasoned. My entree, shawarma, was marinated and grilled chicken served with grilled fresh veggies.
Thank you GLBG for another delightful time with your kind, creative and adventurous members. I look forward to returning.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Today three beaders arrived to the Advanced Elements of Beadwork workshop wearing felt jewelry. Well, Linda Darmes, above, wasn't actually wearing her felt until I asked her to for this photo. Her piece is still in progress and will be entered into a juried competition for exhibition in the Lawrence St. Gallery, in Ferndale MI. The exhibit will showcase collaborations between beadworkers of the Great Lakes Beadworkers' Guild and members of the local branch of the ISGB called Glass Act. The beadmaker she is collaborating with is Darlene Dombrowski.
Linda G. is wearing a beautiful necklace that combines her bead weaving with one of her hand felted beads as a focal element. B.T.W., the gorgeous sweater she is wearing is one of her hand knits. Its subtle sheen and graceful drape is due to the bamboo yarn.
Audrey wore a strand of felt beads. She was quick to say she had not made them but, we applauded her good taste to purchase them! She will be hand felting her own set of complex cane felt beads in tomorrow's workshop.
Sharon, a board member of the GLBG, wasn't wearing felt today but, she was wearing a Carpet of Beads Bracelet (a retired kit of mine and a project in MASTERING BEADWORK) and an incredible Jeannette Cook necklace she made in a workshop with her.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm in Michigan for 3 days of workshops with the always delightful and hugely creative beaders of the Great Lakes Beadworkers' Guild. Today I taught Ostara's Emerging Blossoms, the necklace that features a pendant composed of a pair of polygon buds joined by a bail of tubular and then flat herringbone plus a bezeled rivoli closure.

Karen, above, brought her stash of eggplant and green beads. Elaine (left) used a green soup of size 11 similar to the kit but, chose purple beads for her buds.I hope that every beader who signed up tomorrow's workshop gets a good night's rest tonight. I'll put them through their paces beading Advanced Elements of Beadwork, a necklace of samplers of 6 beading techniques.

Monday, September 14, 2009

October 2&3 I'll be teaching 3 feltmaking workshops at the first annual North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival. Just this morning we firmed up the details. When my friend MaryJo Lanik (of Ice Pond Spinnery) asked if I'd like to join her in her booth there, I was delighted to say yes.
What a wonderful bonus to be teaching workshops there. The workshops are only 1.5 hours and chockful of information and techniques. Priced at $35 each with nominal materials fee, I am hoping some people will sign up for all 3 to learn or add to their repertoire, a range of feltmaking skills.
Both the Hand Felted Bangle Bracelet Workshop and the Hand Felted Flower Workshop teach how to make felt from dyed fine merino wool roving. The workshops explore form and structure, using a painterly approach to surface design and finish with sculpting and shaping.
The Turbo Felting Board makes it possible to squeeze so much material into such a brief workshop where the registrants can expect to complete their projects.
The third workshop focuses on an array of needle-felting and beading embellishment techniques for fabric and clothing using wool, feathers, synthetic fibers and beads. The techniques will be applied to an already felted purse that becomes a cherished accessory as well as a sampler of all the new skills.
In addition to Mary Jo's spindles and yummy yarns, we'll have my books in the booth where I hope to do signings. Oh, and of course, the Turbo Felting Boards ($30.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yesterday at Beadzo, we broke out the felt needles, Swarovski bling and seed beads and began embellishing a sweet little felt purse. This is Kaja's. She spent the workshop needlefelting the surface and will bead embroider it in the next class (Sept 24). Should you decide to join them for the fun, I'll bring felt needles, Beadzo will have white felt purses for sale and all the beads and bling you'll want. I'll coach you through your embellishment techniques. These make great gifts too. (This is one of the projects I taught in Japan. Tulip Co even sells kits for needlefelting on felt purses!)
Today Fran came to work in the studio and we ended up making more felt scarf samples for the Bead Gallery workshops coming up Columbus Weekend in October. If you register for that workshop, I assure you it will be a great way to spend a holiday!
And it is a lightweight and fashionable way to keep the chill off your neck all autumn!
Fran was dazzled by how quick and smoothly the fulling process was acheived using the Turbo Felting Board. (Just between us, I think she was skeptical until she did it for herself. Imagine Fran skeptical.) She was pleased to hear that I ordered the TFBs precut this time so we didn't have to do it ourselves. Whew.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tonight a few beaders asked me about that portable light that I love. After purchasing one at the Puget Sound Bead Festival in July, I shared my enthusiasm in this blog.
When I inquired of the manufacturer, they said the best deal is to purchase them from Amazon. It is the Rite Lite LPL900 8 LED Portable Desk Task Light that I have and love. They offer it for $15 these days. It has a magnifier that stores in the case but isn't relevant to those of us who would want to bead under it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just this week a beader e-mailed me sweet praises of MASTERING BEADWORK and said she just finished beading several inches of undulating tubular peyote she learned from the book, to wear on a crochet rope. She sounded delighted with her piece. It is a very satisfying project. It is repetitious and meditative as we expect of peyote with the added bonus of a mindfulness necessary to always pick up a bead just like the one being exited rather than the one being entered. The necklace here is Mary's undulating peyote that she worked on during her early studio classes. She skillfully decreased the bead sizes as she approached the ends, which hide a magnetic closure.
In this week's studio class, Elaine finished her crystal bracelet and resumed working on this lovely bead crochet bracelet. The ceylon seed beads look just like pearls when worked up this way. Stunning. I have made similar bracelets as gifts for bridal parties.
If you've been following the blog you know how immersed I have been in these textured, gorgeous-both-front-and-back, quick and exciting bezels I have been designing for rivolis, felt beads, glass, stones and, well, they even look great empty! These are two that Amy made tonight. Beauties.
Earlier today, Caroline Turner, from Moral Fibre Studio and I negotiated the 2010 dates and details of workshops for my first teaching in the UK! February 25, 26, 27 and 28 will be a 4-day intensive in hand felted and beaded jewelry and adornments. March 2 and 3 a 2-day intensive in hand felted bead jewelry.
When we'd communicated about this last week we had figured I would tag this event onto my week of teaching in Germany in March 2010 at Creativa, Europe's largest handwork convention. Last year the attendance was 75,000. This year will feature a new and prominent beading vendors and education sponsored by Perlen Poesie magazine, Germany's first and only periodical devoted to beadwork. Unable to make the arrangements on-line, I called a travel agaent to find that it would be more than twice the price to fly 4 one-ways (US to Ger to UK to US) than to fly two round trips from US to Europe. So, A week in UK and then a couple weeks later...back to Germany. Fine with me.
Tulip Co (yes you know them from previous posts here about my attending the TNNA Show with them in June, during their first exhibit in the US) is sponsoring the feltmaking workshops I will teach at Creativa.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The variety of bezel shapes and sizes I am able to design using this new techniques astounds me. It is so satisfying and exciting to work on each new shape and composition. Of course, I am documenting each one so I can share them.
This one has a round of shorter stitches, which causes the 8s to pop out of the background. It is so lovely as is that I just can't seat a cab or rivoli in there.