Sometimes even the best made plans go awry, and this was the case earlier this year. We had the perfect storm of bead orders held up for weeks in customs; lengthy post delays for precious parcels being sent out to beaders, and an ever dwindling deadline to make the magic happen for a special event. In the end, we had to admit defeat… and simply wait for the storm to pass.
Shipments have finally arrived and the gorgeous Cristabelle bracelet is ready to go. I love the design of this piece, it’s so easy to wear and you can make it snug fit or loose and bangly. Signature features of dainty and detailed beading bring together crystals, pearls and my beloved Albion stitch.
The original design was in pewter and violet, a pretty, go with anything mix, but with the arrival of new crystals and beads, I’ve expanded the collection to include three more temptingly delicious colourways. You can find them in the Kits department here.
There is a lot to be said for teaching, not least of which is that I learn as much from my students as they do from me. During one class I was showing a design for a new class that calls for un-foiled crystal Chaton. Once the design was completed, I soon discovered that, while we can buy foiled crystals, un-foiled ones in a variety of colours are much harder to find. Class discussion led to a recipe that is tried and tested, and the discovery of many blog posts on the topic.
Why? I have bags of vintage crystals foraged from dealers in all things old, I love them, but the foiling is often scratched and damaged. How lovely then, to be able to bring them back to life. Also, because I’m loving my new light and airy bezels and the play of light they allow on un-foiled stones and can’t wait to teach the new designs.
The ingredients are simple and readily available: Vinegar and salt. Coarse Sea Salt or Rock Salt works the best, because the texture helps to loosen the foil when you get to the swishing part of the process. Some recommend Apple Cider Vinegar, others Malt vinegar, honestly I used White Malt Vinegar as the cheapest (and least smelly) available, and it works just fine.
What many of the posts don’t get into is some basic home safety. Most Foiling uses fine layers of Silver, Copper and Brass, but who can be sure what alloys were used with really old crystals. Please wear rubber gloves and work over newspaper that can be folded up to capture all the metal flakes, then discarded.
Cautionary tale: this process works for regular crystals, but any with a secondary coating will loose that too. Most coatings (Aurora Borealis, Iridescent, Shimmer etc) are created by passing the crystals through a metal vapour or PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition), to leave a light coating of the metal. As such this too will be removed by the process.
How: Take a small glass bowl, fill the bottom with the salt. Put in the crystals, then pour in the vinegar until the crystals are covered. Cover the bowl with film, then wait. Patience is required, 24-48 hours worth. Next, swish the solution to move everything about and help the salt to loosen the metal.
Wipe the foil off with a dry cloth or paper kitchen towel. Some foils slide off most satisfyingly. Others may only partially come off, so just put them back in the solution for a further swish and 24 hours.
Went all the foil is off, wash the crystals in warm soapy water and polish them dry.
I confess that this is a new and addictive side hobby and deeply satisfying.
Rosslyn Chapel is a masterpiece of the stone masons art. Nestled into the landscape it has been an inspiration from Wordsworth to Dan Brown. Little details of the stonework were the inspiration starting point for the shapes in my new Rosslyn bracelet. The result is an architectural blend of chaton and crystal frames, interspersed with delicate arches. I’m loving the crunchy textures! The colour inspiration came from the wider landscape; dark peat, moss and lichen, wild Heather and windblown stone. It also came from a treasured hoard of woven Mohair fabric, and the last of my summer Hydrangea.This is absolutely my favourite part of designing, finding new colour mixes that help to tell the story of the shapes of the beading.
I’m having a happy moment. My work has appeared in not one, but two publications recently. In October my Pocket Money Princess bracelet appeared in the Beadworker’s Guild Journal, you can read about it here.
But Tada! Heather goes super international, with not just a project, but a lovely feature article too, in the Japanese magazine ‘Bead Art & Embroidery’, published by the Japan Bead Society. My copy arrived in the post and I spent a very happy hour browsing the beautiful creations, love the inspiring mix of materials used from thread, wire and bamboo to traditional seed beads. I also love the quality of images that enables a non Japanese reader to follow the stories and project steps visually. Hopefully their readers will enjoy a glimpse into my little corner of planet bead too.
I’ve added the Boheme flower to my 2022 workshop offerings, I had a mini breakthrough with the ‘Drawing with beads’ and am excited to share some new Albion stitch techniques in this class.
Sometimes it takes a nudge. Birdie had been sitting in my ‘get the pattern written’ box for quite a while. Then, during a class discussion about Albion stitch, I showed the cute Easter version of Birdie, and the enthusiasm to bead one was, simply put, heartwarming.
I revisited the construction and decided to give the birdie some tail feathers and a crown, which only took a few sparkling crystals and some metallic beads. Another flock was born! The Year end prompted me to re-colour the Birdie to include a Christmas Robin.
The response has made the many hours of finessing the details, worth every minute, and I love how people are making their own versions of Birdie, based on their bead stash, and their imagination.
If you want to join in the fun, the PDF with all three variations is available in my PDF store here.
I’ve had a great time this year teaching my colour theory for beaders in my ‘Colours of Love’ masterclass. There’s still one more to go in December (sign up here At City Beads Chicago).
So, with the arrival of the gorgeous Pave frames I use in the True North kits, I had enough beautiful glitteringly gorgeous Magenta ones to make a new colourway and used the masterclass theory to make the bead mix.
The inspiration was a piece of vintage Sanderson furnishing fabric, with just the right hint of autumn richnes for this time of year. I chose a vivid electric blue as the ‘kick’ colour and am loving the results. The True Notrh kits are back in stock and you can find them here.
October Issue 91 of the Beadworkers Guild Journal has arrived! I’m happy because now I can reveal my Pocket Money Princess bracelet which is in the issue. I’m also in the Designer Spotlight with a catch up of what I’ve been doing for the last year. But back to the bracelet…
We are all looking at alternatives to Swarovski, so I decided to use Aurora 8mm Rivoli, and Preciosa 3mm bicone crystals for extra sparkle. For seed beads I used some soft metallics and the new Jewel colours from Miyuki. The design beads up relatively quickly, with each segment growing from the next, so it’s easy to check the length and fit.
The Beadworkers Guild Journal is published quarterly and is packed full of beading news, articles and projects; plus special invitations and events for members. If you fancy becoming a member and joining in the fun, just visit their website here.
A New Kit!Fortuna has been waiting in the wings for the longest while, as all the components took their time to arrive from various points of origin. But now I’m delighted to share: Tada! ‘Fortuna’ a brand new design from me, for a beautifully proportioned pendant. The design centres around a clear orb and half dome, with lots of beady detail and tiny sparkling crystals. Fortuna is inspired by the Roman goddess of Fortune, and time taken researching our long history of fascination with crystal ball
There is something very calming about how a perfectly transparent ball changes and magnifies the things around it, like raindrops on a window, or a perfectly still pool of water.
I’ve been wearing a green one non stop since I finished beading it, and I’ve discovered a delightful bonus, it’s an ideal ‘Worry’ piece, it feels lovely when you run the fringes through your fingers. I really enjoyed weaving the ideas together for you, and the worksheet with the kit includes a little history of the sources of inspiration, for you to muse over between beading.