Monday, 28 January 2013

Tassels, tassels everywhere

I spent the weekend making new samples for Gina B's next show. Tassels were part of the menu as I had four to make for a cushion cover. However, I couldn't decide which style I wanted. The cushion cover itself is a cute modern style so I didn't want anything too traditional. But the beauty of tassels is that they adapt to their environment. So if you are doing something modern there is a modern looking style to go with it. I eventually kept it simple and added some bling in the form of beads. I can't show you the finished cushion right now (you will have to tune in to Freeview 22, Sky 671, Freesat 813 or online at on Sunday, 3rd February at 5pm GMT to see it) but can show you the finished tassels.

I also ended up making an impromptu keyring using a hand painted bead with a wide hole and some offcuts from the tassels. The beauty of paper beads and tassel making is that you never run out of keyrings.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Craft of the month - Paper Beads

First up as Craft of the Month is, of course, paper bead making. For those of you who don't know I make paper beads and sell them through Etsy. I have had a few people asking me recently how I make my beads. Unfortunately I am a bit like an overprotective chef guarding her secret ingredients when it comes to my techniques. However, there is a host of information on the web about making a myriad of different styles of bead. One of my favourite web sites is Paper Beads. There are tutorials on just about every shape of bead you can imagine (check out the tutorials in the 'Paper Bead Creations' tab at the top of the page) and loads of inspiration on using them.Another great site is I Love Paper Beads where there are some cute ideas for using less usual materials like glow in the dark paint.

Other than paper, the three things you need for making paper beads are a roller, glue and something to coat them with. The roller can be anything long and thin that you can wrap the paper around - a kebab stick or skewer, a knitting needle. The one I use is between 2 and 2.5mm in diameter but as long as the bead hole is big enough to allow for your choice of stringing material it doesn't matter. I use a multi purpose PVA glue, Aleene's Tacky Glue, to glue as I roll the beads but almost any paper glue will work.

You can use paper beads without coating them but adding varnish will add to their longevity. I have heard of paper bead makers using everything from clear nail varnish to protective finishes for wood. Polyurethane seems to be quite popular (although I have not used it) as is embossing powder and paper glazes like Diamond Glaze. Again, the choice is yours - although I would not advise the clear nail varnish as the smell is hard to get rid of. Try some of them out and see which you like and which does the best job for your needs. Paper glazes are certainly the easiest to use, being easy to apply, quick to clean up and speedy to dry to a pretty hard coat. If you are a beginner it is certainly the easiest place to start.

Those who follow me on Twitter or Facebook will know about the honour I received last year when asked to join Gina Barrett's design team. As a result some of my paper beads are displayed on Gina's web site and regularly on the Create and Craft TV channel. You can see some of them here along with other design team projects using handmade beads, cords, buttons and tassels. Gina has developed a couple of very useful tools for the paper bead maker. The Paperlathe is mainly used to produce paper based tassel moulds but there are also a number of bead templates on the CD-rom along. The bead templates are marvellous and produce beautiful big beads that are ideal for large projects and focal beads like those in the bracelet and on the tag below.

The Paper Bead Stencil Kit is, as the title suggests, a stencil that allows you to produce much smaller beads in a variety of shapes from paper or fabric, an acrylic rod for rolling the bead and instructions on how to do it. The beads they produce are great for decorating cards or scrapbook pages and as spacer beads in jewellery - and you can make them in any colour you need. Perfect colour matching every time. In the photo below you will see a ring, a mobile phone charm and a bag charm all made using the Paper Bead Stencil Kit - with the exception of the large orange bead on the bag charm which was made with the Paperlathe. The photos show the variety of projects you can use them on.


 These earrings were also made using the Paper Bead Stencil Kit ...

... as were the felt beads on these mobile phone cases.

So, that was month one of the Craft of the Month posts. I hope you found something worthwhile in there. I have not decided what next month's post will be about so I guess it will just have to be a surprise.

New monthly posts - Craft of the Month

At the start of the year I had a thought. I am a Gill-of-all-trades, well known for trying as many arts and crafts as I possibly can. Last year was no exception and I expect that this year won't be either. Since the turn of the year, I have learned to design and make my own handbag and painted pears with Martha Lever - both of which have given me hours of pleasure. So I thought I would try and inspire others to try a few new things by writing a post every month about my experiences with each craft and list some of the more helpful articles, books, web sites and videos I have come across alongside some photos of my attempts. On the list so far, and in no particular order, we have paper bead making, crochet, spinning, inkle weaving, tatting, bag making, felt making and painting & drawing. No doubt more will be added to the list as the year goes on but hopefully I can add a little inspiration and perhaps remove a little frustration for those who are looking for information about certain arts and crafts.

So, with no further ado, on to the first Craft of the Month.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Mini drawings

 I have been managing to do a little drawing recently - well, just before the end of 2012. A few tiny drawings just to keep my hand in. They are each 1.75 inches square (4cm square) graphite drawings and you can find them for sale on Etsy along with a few other badgers. I enjoy pencil work so much but do not always get the opportunity to do it. However these little drawings are ideal for giving my skills and airing. With a little luck some new ones will follow soon.