Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Raindrop Flower Focal Pendants

In preparation for my Bead & Button classes next month, I wove up some Raindrop Flower Pendants to test possible colorways for its necklace class. I wove four pendants, in addition to the original necklace:

Which version is your favorite?

More information about Bead & Button class registration, as well as general show information can be found here. I'd love to see you there!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beaded Serotonin

In the midst of preparing for the Bead & Button Show, and after a fabulous time teaching at the San Diego Bead Society this weekend, I carved out a little time to make some more beaded molecules.


Serotonin is a small molecule that contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being. It's made from the amino acid tryptophan, and it functions as a neurotransmitter; a molecule that carries messages from one neuron to another in the nervous system. Serotonin is found in both the gut, where it regulates intestinal functions, and the brain, where it helps to regulate mood, appetite, and sleep. It's a huge target of antidepressant drugs, which aim to increase serotonin levels.

The Chemical Structure of Serotonin

From an organic chemist's point of view, serotonin is about the same size as caffeine, and its two rings (the indole functional group) are also flat. It has comparatively more carbon atoms with only two nitrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. So, from the beader's point of view, when serotonin is woven using the same technique that I describe in my Morning Coffee Molecules pattern, the two colors of the background beads and the carbon atoms will dominate, with the colors of the nitrogen and oxygen atoms serving as accents.

Color Attempt #1

For my first attempt at a beaded serotonin molecule, I chose colors that I like because those colors make me happy. So I started with matte purple beads for the carbon atoms on a dark purple beaded background, with red luster beads for the nitrogen atoms and gold for the oxygen atom.

The result ended up much darker than I had anticipated. It's an interesting color scheme, but it doesn't scream "happy" the way that I had wanted it to.

Color Attempt #2

For my second attempt, I switched to lighter purple beads for the background, bright pink for the carbon atoms and orange for the nitrogen atoms.

It's a much happier molecule, but I wasn't as satisfied with the interplay between the pink and purple beads, as these beads are too close in value and tend to blend into each other. Plus, for this molecule to be truly happy, it needs to sit on a bed of bright and sunny background beads.

Third Time's a Charm!

For my final attempt, I put the gold beads in the background, and switched to shiny Duracoat seed beads for the individual atoms; pink for the carbon, purple for the nitrogen, and peach for the oxygen atom.

It's by far my favorite of the three, and I'll definitely be working with this color scheme again!

Next time, I'll have to try beaded dopamine.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cosmic Tetrahedron

One of the themes of my talk at the San Diego Bead Society this weekend is how a simple change in geometry can lead to a new beaded structure. With this theme in mind, I wove a variation of the Cosmic Nocturne Pendant.

A Tetrahedral Variation

This particular variation uses the geometry of a tetrahedron. Can you see its similarity to this beaded tetrahedron?

I like how this design accentuates the faces and the points of the tetrahedron, but it also leaves a big space at the edges. This is unlike most of the beaded beads that I've seen (like the one above), which usually have at least one bead lying on the edge of the structure.

Variation vs. The Original Version

The tetrahedral variation is slightly smaller than its original counterpart, but it's still a nice size for a petite version of this pendant.

The Cosmic Nocturne Pendant is just one of the projects that I'll be teaching at the Bead & Button Show this June. The class for this particular project is on Friday, June 7, from 1-4 PM. More information about the show can be found on their website.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cosmic Nocturne Pendants

Having finished the class kits and instructions for my classes at the San Diego Bead Society this weekend, I switched gears and put together a few new Cosmic Nocturne Pendants in preparation for its corresponding Bead & Button class in June.

Ways to String the Pendant

One of the fun characteristics of this pendant is how it can be strung through several different openings. The first time I created one of these pendants, I strung it on a sterling silver headpin before stringing it on a chain. This will still be an option for the students in class, but for this latest version, I left off the headpin and just strung it on the chain through two of its many openings.

I like this orientation the best because it accentuates the pointed ends, making it look more star-like (hence its namesake). But you can also string it through two different points, making it look more like a box standing on one edge:

It looks especially cube-like when it's strung this way:

The colors in this pendant match that of the geode colorway of the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron, though the Cosmic Nocturne looks a little more purple than its dodecahedron counterpart.

Other New Colorways

I also wove this design in two additional colorways! I'm still not quite sure what to think of this one:

I was looking for a different way to use those blue iris magatamas, so I paired them with bronze seed beads and reddish-bronze SuperDuos. It's somewhat outside of my usual color schemes... It's still dark, fulfilling the cosmic, night-sky theme of the pendant, but I'm not sure if I like it. What do you think?

I also wove this version in green patina with a touch of bronze a while back.

The Original Colorway

This is the original colorway, in black, silver, and purple, with just a touch of blue iris:

The Cosmic Nocturne Pendant is just one of the projects that I'll be teaching at the Bead & Button Show this June. The class for this particular project is on Friday, June 7, from 1-4 PM. More information about the show can be found on their website.

Which colorway is your favorite?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Presentation at the San Diego Bead Society, April 20

I've been busy getting ready for my presentation and classes at the San Diego Bead Society on April 20 and 21. I made several changes from the version of this talk that I gave at the Northern California Bead Society last fall, but it will still have two main sections: math and science!

Inspirations from Mathematics

As a big geek, I sometimes get a little too carried away with my descriptions of the different kinds of geometric structures. To make these concepts easier to grasp, I recently wove some prisms, dipyramids, and the Platonic solids out of bugle beads so that I can relate several more complicated beaded designs to these basic versions. (Gerlinde Lenz pioneered this style of beaded beads with bugles, and made a much more impressive collection of them that you can see here.)

Can you tell which two Platonic solids are depicted below?

I'll also talk about some of my design philosophies, such as how changes in symmetry can lead to several different variations on one beaded bead...

...and how the interplay between flat and three-dimensional elements can lead to different designs altogether, or even a matched set of jewelry.

I'll give many beaded examples for the five Platonic solids as well as the prisms and dipyramids, as several wonderful bead artists have again graciously allowed me to use images of their work in this talk. I'll also have plenty of examples of my own work on-hand to examine in person.

Inspirations from Science

The second half of this talk is on science-inspired beadwork, which has grown considerably since the last time I gave this talk. Not only will I discuss topics such as beaded DNA...

...but also chemical structures such as this beaded molecule of caffeine...

...as well as several other science-inspired beadwork designs that I haven't previously discussed online.

Bead Dreams News!

On that topic, I'm pleased to mention that one of my latest beading designs has been juried into the finals of the Bead Dreams Competition! I had been debating exactly when to post about this piece, as it's been taking up a lot of my design time, and I have more to say about it than can fit into one blog post or even a series of posts. But I'll have to continue to delay discussing it until the Bead Dreams winners are announced in June.

However, if you attend my presentation on April 20, you might get to see a sneak peak ;)

My presentation will be at the monthly meeting of the San Diego Bead Society, which meets at 10 AM on the third Saturday of every month in the Mingei International Museum in beautiful Balboa Park. Parking is free but can be tricky if there's an event in the park, or if it's just a particularly sunny day, so give yourself plenty of time. I'd love to see you there!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

New Tropical Dahlia Pendants

I made a new Tropical Dahlia Pendant, and listed it along with two others in my Etsy Shop. Click on the photos below for more information about each pendant. Of course, the pattern for the complete Tropical Dahlia Set is available exclusively at beadorigami.com if you'd like to make your own!

Which pendant is your favorite?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tila Garden Pendant with Rizo Beads

In preparation for my classes at the San Diego Bead Society later this month, I re-illustrated most of the Tila Garden Pendant pattern to reflect my most recent illustration style. I think it's easier to understand, though I'm going to see how well it works in the class before updating the version that's on my website. While I was illustrating it, I decided that it needed a few more step-by-step photos, so I wove a new Tila Garden Pendant for myself with a simple variation...

Another Rizo-Bead Substitution

Yep, yet again, I substituted the fringe drops for rizo beads, which is becoming a recurring theme on my bead tray nowadays; I previously swapped out other beads for rizo beads in my Double Bubble Jacks, Tila Droplet, and Sparkling Compass designs.

"Burst" Variations

The rizo beads wiggle around more in this pendant compared the original version, but it also makes the pendant more tactile and it gives the flowers a burst effect. Plus I'm loving the colors! I've gotten several positive comments about it from the ladies in my local bead circle, so I'm thinking of offering it as a kit option for this and my Bead & Button classes. What do you think?

The same burst effect can be achieved with Swarovski briolette pendant crystals, as seen in this pendant that I wove last year:

More Matching Earrings

Continuing with my goal of designing matching earrings for my pendants, I put together a pair to match this pendant too. It actually took a pretty big design-concept-paradigm-shift on my part to come up with this earring design, even though the end result looks so similar to the flowers on the pendant. They're quick to weave together too.

The class that I'm teaching at the San Diego Bead Society will take place on April 21 starting at 10 AM. There's still one space left, so contact the bead society at sdbeadsociety@gmail.com for more information about how to register. I'm also teaching this project at Bead & Button, and there's still space left in the session on Sunday, June 9, from 9 AM - noon.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Kits: Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Set

New kits are now available for the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Set! These kits contain all the materials to make the complete pendant and earrings set - including the ear wires and a lovely silk ribbon on which to hang the pendant!

Colorway #1: Turquoise Geode

My current favorite colorway of the three is one I've named Turquoise Geode, which, with its purple AB2X crystals sparkling from the inside-out, looks the most geode-like of the three. I've taken to wearing this one a bunch lately.

Colorway #2: Bronze Lapis

The second colorway, Bronze Lapis, uses bronze and dark blue SuperDuo beads, and denim blue Swarovski bicone crystals for a very earthy feel.

Colorway #3: Red and Gold

The last colorway is red and gold all the way, for a completely blingin' starburst! I'm thinking that this pendant would also make a nice Christmas ornament (hey, you can never start planning for the holidays too early!)

All three kits are available at beadorigami.com, and include all the materials necessary to make the beaded bead, the pendant, and the matching earrings. The kits also include a gorgeous silk ribbon on which to string the pendant, a beading needle, plenty of thread, the Fiberoptic Dodecahedron Set pattern (automatically delivered after checkout as a PDF download), and free shipping is included too!
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