Two beadwork artists, a country house hotel and a long weekend of beading in great company.
My friend and fellow beadwork artist Melanie de Miguel and I, have been deeply busy behind the scenes organising our 2020 Elemental Beading retreats. We hold them in March (13-15th) and again in September (25th-27th). It starts with the beadwork. Following the success of our Tudor Inspirations concept, of beading elements that can be combined and recombined into infinite variations, we decided to give a whole new era of history our unique Elemental treatment.
Two brand new and gorgeously sparkly designs inspired by Art Deco are on the menu. Party like it’s 1920 in 2020! Our retreats are a little bit different, because along with the designs to be beaded, we give you bite size servings of design history. It takes months of research but the end result is a fascinating and fun packed beading experience.
At our Tudor themed retreats last year, we covered everything from food to palace intrigue, serving Elizabethan recipe cakes at break time, and handing out homemade pomanders filled with perfumed herbs and spices. Everyone also receive a cute goody bag filled with beading related treats. We have lots of Deco inspired surprises for everyone this year too.
Places for our Divinely Deco Elemental Beading retreats are filling fast, but we can still squeeze a few more in (We have the hotel on speed dial ready to book more rooms). Last year we welcomed visitors from all over Europe and the USA, and if, like them, you’re coming from a distance, we can help you plan a longer visit. The venue is close to lots of amazingly English places of interest, with Bath, Bristol,Glastonbury, Stonehenge and the Cotswolds within in easy travelling distance.
My ‘Georgiana’s Gems’ bracelet made the front cover of Bead and Jewellery magazine this month. Huge sqweee of excitement! I thought you might to know the story behind the design.
It all started with this little ‘UFO’ (unfinished object) which I thought might make a pretty bracelet. The UFO box is a treasure trove of, unloved at the time, bits of beading. But sometimes one piece will jump out, and there is usually a reason.
This time it was because my mind was on intrepid Victorian women explorers. Having just read about several in this book. What absolute bravery! to set off on what would be months of travelling to reach their exotic destinations. I began to imagine the places they would see. Now we can stream, binge watch and pretty much see every corner of the world from our sofa; but how exotic and strange (and unblemished by tourism) the world would have looked to these amazing women. Georgiana is a fictional traveller, who has a little treasure box of mementoes of her travels. I decided to make her a bracelet to add to her collection, and the result is Georgiana’s gems. Lots of delicate detail, gleaming crystals and, more importantly for a traveller, light and easy to wear.
My travels for this year start next week with a trip to California to meet up and bead, at Creative Castle. How different my packing is to those Victorian ladies who had to take every conceivable tool, supply, essential and luxury with them, all while being trussed up in corsets and long frocks. I have the reverse, everything I need must weigh less than 23kg and I have to carry it myself. I’ll definitely be wearing one of these bracelets though, to remind me of how lucky I am to travel so easily.
February, the month of Valentines or ‘V-Day’ but also, the month when the first hints that winter might be coming to an end appear. I did a quick review of my Bead related Love and rounded up my heartfelt offerings, for anyone in need of a beaded heart this month.
In the pdf store my Tattoo Heart, inspired by wild child ink, I have one as a bag charm.
For a softer design, perfect as a pendant without wearing your heart on your sleeve, Beloved is pretty and feminine and can be worked in as many colours as you need. For colour inspiration ideas from Beloved fans, have a look at this post. Beloved is also available as a kit in my favourite English country garden shades here.
My most recent design with a heart theme is Divine, I love it because it has so many variations. Inspired by the Californian sunshine and friendship, which you can read about here. Divine is available as a kit here. It can worn as a simple crystal encrusted pendant, or adorned with one of two styles of wings for more drama.
However you choose to celebrate Love this month, take pleasure in the small things. Bead love is the best! These love letters are by my friend Marcia DeCoster and can be found on her bead love blog where bead artists from around the world shared their love of beads. The flower is available as a pdf here.
The inspiration for Divine is all about friendship and new places. On my first visit to California, I fell in love with San Diego’s ice-cream colours and Art Deco treasures. The sound of the Pacific ocean on an endless beach edged with fairytale pretty Jacaranda trees, and the Eagles lyrics coming to life as we drove along the highway at sunset.
I took the Beloved pendant and redesigned it to create the first Divine necklaces as gifts for my friends, who make my return visits such memorable and treasured events.
So then, of course, I had necklace envy and made one for me. Requests for the pattern whenever I wore it resulted in more design options with curved wings, no wings, and a delightful rummage in my stash of vintage and modern glass beads to make the kits.
For everyday I made one without wings, as they are fairly quick to make its easy to make one to match a favourite top; next on my bead mat is one in Jacaranda purples and silvery ocean blue to remind me of my journeys.
The kits are here in a delicious set of colourways, pretty and sweetly pink for good girls, soft turquoise for angelic souls and darkly divine ruby for our inner party girl diva’s.
Whoot! A new kit and a brand new design to share with you. LightWeaver is a really pretty combination of delicate metal Eternity frames and lots of lacy beading. I love the swishy fringes. I made myself a green and bronze one (of course!). This design started way back last Autumn when I was given some Eternity frames to play with. A street market on a hot and sunny summer day was where the little ideas began to fall into place, after all it doesn’t do to rush things! Chatting with a stall holder, and secretly admiring her boho chic style, I had a jewellery envy moment! I just loved her random mix of delicate necklaces, and from there, the beads just fell into place around the metal frames. LightWeaver is really fun to bead and can be made in different combinations too. I’ve chosen the prettiest Firepolish crystals and sparkly chatons to add to the seed bead mix in the kits. Take a closer look and choose your favourite here.
After my first Alpine experience in France, I am so looking forward to our next mountain adventure! I’ve created three bead embroidery project which take you from free form fun and cuff building, through art of adding cabochons and building scrunchy beady textures; to the more traditional techniques of ‘painting with beads’. I’ve added some pure beadwork to the mix in the form of bails, beaded beads and pendants.
I’m excited to share that the class sold out super fast! and the good news is that we have a waiting list, so if you love what you see, add yourself to our list and we’ll keep you posted. To find out more visit the website here.
To celebrate being made a permanent ambassador for International Beading week, I’m doing things a little differently this year.
I’ve teamed up with a lovely bead shop called Spoilt Rotten Beads to offer you kits for my Ravenna bracelet.
To complete the circle of love, £5.00 for every kit or pattern sold will be given to the The Beadworkers Guild, who started Beading Week and who work so hard to keep this wonderful craft of ours moving forward.
Ravenna is fairly easy to bead (If you’re a beginner there’s a simple wrap version included to get you started). The kits and patterns can be purchased here.
Ravenna is inspired by this gorgeous courtyard window I spied on my travels through Northern Italy last year. Too high in the wall to see the hidden garden behind it, leaving the imagination to start creating stories about who might have taken a strollor held a tryst there in times past. The Bracelet is available in three colour ways, but I couldn’t resist mixing things up with all the gorgeous colours available in the beads used.
The Wrap is worked in: Pastel Olivine, Pastel Lime, metallic matte green turquoise, with Miyuki 459 seed beads.
The Green multi bracelet is worked in: Pastel Olivine, Pastel Light Brown Coco, Opaque Light Green ceramic and Dark Bronze Matte, with Miyuki 8195 seed beads.
The red bracelet is worked in: Violet Gold ceramic, Metallic Bronze and Bronze Red Matte, with Toho 222 seed beads.
Retreats are such a treat, and my first week long series of classes at the Alpine Experience in the French Alps was the best fun. The landscape of mountains forms a backdrop to the studio where we work. With a whole week of studio time, everyone has time to explore the projects at a pace to suit themselves. As a teacher it is heaven to have time to help students grow ideas and new techniques.We arrived to find the region basking in a heatwave, which gave us spectacular lightening light shows and thunderstorms some evenings. Awesome!
We kicked off with Divine, a gorgeously sparkly pendant, just to get our beady fingers limbered up.
Then we dived into the Colours of Love, beadwork inspired by colourful granny square crochet and the maths of Plato and Archimedes. You can see more about Colours of Love here). Everyone went home brimming with new ideas and inspiration to explore, which made me very happy.
A retreat is also about fun, food and fresh air. We went up a mountain in a cable car, walked back down through the beautiful landscape. Stopped to dine alfresco on the freshest local foods en route (cheese anyone?). Each evening we relaxed before supper with drinks, and watched the sun painting the mountains pink and gold as it set.
Nadine, Mark, Aubin, Jackie and the team look after everyone with great care and attention to the tiniest detail, from special dietary needs, to a choice of lovely excursions.
We day tripped to the beautiful town of Annecy, with it’s turquoise blue lake and quaint old town, everyone shopped for cheese and other delicious treats.
If you’d like to join me next time, in 2020 we’ll be meeting in the mountains in October for a week of exploration into the intricacies of bead embroidery combined with pure beading. The textures, the techniques and three very different projects to play with. I’ll be posting all the details very soon.