Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Pattern and Kits: QuadraTile Sweet Bun Set

Since I just can't resist playing with new bead shapes, I applied and was accepted to Starman's TrendSetters program last year. My first pattern resulting from these new beads, the QuadraTile Sweet Bun Set, is now available at beadorigami.com.

QuadraTile Beads: A bead with Four Holes

This pattern features the new QuadraTile beads, which are square-shaped beads with four holes that look sort of like square buttons. Like the other CzechMates beads such as the two-hole triangles, the holes of these beads are spaced uniformly for consistency across the CzechMates line.

Working with these beads presented all kinds of new challenges, such as how to position the holes of the beads so that they point in the correct direction, and how to engineer the beadwork to make use of all four holes. But it's been a fun challenge and I came up with several ideas that I'm looking forward to talking about more over the next few months.

A Delicious Bracelet

This beadwork design combines the QuadraTile beads with two-hole triangles and Japanese seed beads to create round circular components. The components are quite sturdy, and I liked the feel of the rounded edges of the CzechMates beads so much that I joined several components together to make bracelets.

The connections between the components are rather rigid, and the bracelet is finished with a magnet clasp. While I was photographing these bracelets, I found that the magnets kept sticking to the metal surface that sits on the bottom of my photography box. This led to some interesting bracelet gymnastics shots such as this one:

A Matching Pendant

The beading pattern for this design describes how to make both the bracelet and a matching pendant using variations on the circular peyote and circular netting stitches. The pendant component uses 8-fold symmetry instead of 6-fold symmetry to make it slightly larger than the components used in the bracelet. However, this component can also be used in place of some or all of the smaller bracelet components to make the bracelet slightly longer.

This QuadraTile bead pattern is in the PDF format, and clocks in at 17 pages of step-by-step instructions with 46 full-color illustrations and photographs. This pattern is appropriate for experienced beaders who want to take up the challenge of beading with four-hole beads.

Three Kit Colorways

Kits for this design are available in the three colorways shown, and include all the beads and findings needed to make either the bracelet or the pendant (the pendant kit does not include a chain or other stringing materials). 

Thanks for looking! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Last Month's Workshop with David Chatt

My local bead society here in San Diego has brought in some phenomenal bead artists over the past couple of years. Last month I had the privilege to take a class with the fantastic bead artist David Chatt. Though he's a master in many beadweaving stitches, much of his work is done with right angle weave (RAW), and David was one of the first bead artists to work with cubic right angle weave (CRAW).

His class style is very different from other beadweaving classes; he brought in several boxes of bits and pieces of beadwork; what he called his "sketchbook." In this four-day class we were able to ask how to make any piece in the sketchbook, and all the students had one-on-one time to focus on learning whatever skills would help them go in their own artistic directions. I didn't get many pictures of the sketchbook pieces, but you can see a couple of them on Marcia's blog.

One of David's signature styles is in covering a form or a figure with beadwork. He brought several little plastic soldier toys to class to teach this technique, and I chose some matte bronze size 15° seed beads to cover mine.

As a geometry nerd with a general reluctance to attempting any kind of freeform beadwork, I found this exercise quite challenging! But I also learned that this organic approach is much less freeform than I had thought; David explained how to think of the beadwork as a fabric, and how the fabric of the beadwork will look best if it follows certain lines on the form rather than looking like a random collection of beads.

Notice how the shape of the helmet is distinct from the head, and the definition that shows the detail in the arms? These were just a couple of the tips we learned in class.

After learning how to cover a form with beads, I turned to exploring several of the more geometric items in the sketchbook. And by that I mean that I totally nerded-out in a rather embarrassing Hermione Granger-esque fashion.

One of the more interesting items in David's sketchbook was the pyramid. The construction is more intuitive than it looks, though it required a little bit of needle gymnastics. I managed to make two small pyramids, one with 4 mm bicone crystals and the other with 6 mm bicone glass beads and crystals.

The great thing about the pyramid is that its underside holds a hidden pattern of multicolored beads.

I made the green one with several colors of crystals on the underside.

David assigned me a couple of RAW and CRAW homework assignments after the first few classes. Here's my version of the first assignment, a twisty bit of beadwork woven with RAW:

I also explored several other twisted sketchbook pieces in class. The two bits on either side are from David's sketchbook, and the middle one is one of my own variations with pentagons instead of squares.

One of the most interesting ideas that we explored was in this piece. David postulated an idea of a long rectangle woven with CRAW, and wondered what it would look like if the edges of the rectangle were color-coded, and if the sides decreased by one stitch on each row so that the rectangle would gradually twist into a point. I took this idea and ran with it and ended up with this interesting little piece. I added gold beads along the edges and little ruffles at the bottom to make it look like a wizard's hat.

In all, I ended up with quite a few little beaded ideas from David's class, and I'm looking forward to taking these ideas further over the next several months.

David doesn't teach very often, so if you get the chance to take one of his classes, take it. You won't regret it!
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