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Expanding the Horizons of Fabric Beads

I just finished a blog and lost it. How on earth does that happen. Anyway it was about actually making the beads now that you have some fabric decided on.

I make two types of beads: tubes and ovals. Use a rotary cutter on a mat for the most consistant beads. You’ll also need a 18″ plastic ruler–the type used to cut fabric for quilts. You will cut your fabric lengths with consideration for the thickness of the fabric and the diameter of the straw. Here are the basics, but you’ll have to do a little experimenting to see what works for you: thin coffee stirrers, cut strips in 11/2″-2″ lengths; regular straws, cut fabric strips in 3″ lengths; jumbo straws, cut fabric strips in 5″-6″ lengths. These lengths make for good, sturdy beads. Remeber to cut with the grain of the fabric.

Tringles start with rectangles. The width of the bead ranges from 1/2″ to 2″. I like the shorter beads best as they lay nicest. Once you have your rectangle, place the ruler about 1/2″ up the bead and diagonally between the edge and the center of the bead. Do the same on the other side. You will generally roll these on the coffee stirrers.

Prepare a drying rack. You can use chopsticks with a rubber band wrapped around several times and stuck into a container with dry beans in it, or toothpicks stuck into packing foam blocks. That is my preferance.

For gluing you will need your fabric strips, straws, Weldbond glue, spatula (small), and newsprint or newspaper. I also keep a wet rag hand for wiping hands. You don’t want glue on the exterior of the bead as it leaves a smudge. Pleace the fabric face side down on the paper, add a bit of glue at the top and fold it over the straw. Add glue to the rest of the fabric, smooth with the spatula, and roll around the straw. Voila, your first bead. Place it on the drying rack and step away from the bead. Don’t futz with it or you chance ruining it. Beads must dry thoroughly befor they will release from the straw.

Now that you have some dry beads, take them off the straws, trim loose fibers and prepare to paint the ends. This ensures they will be solid. I love metallic acrylic paint for this, but do use acrylic craft paint as well. Shake the bottle well, then dip the ends into the cap where paint has settled. Do one end at a time and wait for it to dry before you do the other end. Your beads are now ready to string.

What do you know about making jewelry? This is where the real adventure begins. I had to buy more books and find a beading buddy so that I wan’t reinventing the wheel. I must say that my supplies have grown with my knowledge. Can’t walk into a Joann’s or Michael’s without heading for the bead section, never mind a specialty bead store. And I’ve expanded the range of what I do. The following photo is an example of uisng fun fur and wrapped wooden beads.

Let me know what you need instruction in and I’ll be glad to share what I know.

Expanding the Horizons of Fabric Beads

Fun Fur and Fun

Beading Requires Beads

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Just a quick note to show you a picture of some beads that I recently made for a great looking necklace. I thought you might be interested in seeing what they look like when embellished with a rubber stamp and metallic paint. Of course, I did the stamping before cutting the beads. In this case, I used a polyester fabric that is a little diffcult to work with, but has great colors.

It’s really hard staying indoors right now as the weather is finally warm and the honeysuckle is in bloom. Come this weekend it will be hard to choose between going on an adventure and cleaning up the yard. This has been a very strange winter without good time to do winter clean-up, and now it looks as if it is going directly from cold to hot. When I say hot, I mean 100 degrees after highs of 55 degrees.

Our snowbirds have already begun to leave town in droves, although where they are headed the weather is still awful. That’s why they head to Mesquite in the winter. It is tolerable here compared to where they come from. Even Mesquite is too cold for my liking, but how can I complain when it didn’t dip below freezing all winter. The fish in our pond barely had time to lower their metabolism before getting hungry and begging again.

But it did give me some good time to express my creative nature, so staying inside isn’t so bad after all.

Here’s the picture of beads that I promised. Let me know what you think of them and the technique. Next week I think I’ll give you directions on how to cut and roll the beads. Then you can begin to create on your own. Remember that very few people do this, so you can express yourself in a unique way and when I do shows, attendees love the things I make. I never worry about giving away trade secrets because whatever you do will be totally unique to you.

I used text and lilly of the valley stamps.

Sometimes It’s About Rocks

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How cool is being able to post from the home page. I love this!

Since we are still trying to get out into the desert–the weather hasn’t permitted–I will continue with info on fabric arts! I not only make jewelry, but also make masks and help with the cliff spirits. That is where I am headed (to the craft table) when I finish this blog and write my article for the paper.

All our art is created from recycled materials, or reclaimed materials, in as much as possible. With jewelry, I do have to buy certain things and I just can’t resist rocks–you know, the kind that are mined and cut and polished. Well, that’s not entirely true. They can be just any old rocks that are lying about in the desert and happen to catch my eye. I even incorporate rocks into the cliff spirits and my jewelry. I made an awesome cuff bracelet with a found rock as the focal point.

I once picked up a piece of rusty metal and made a necklace out of it. Here’s a picture.

Okay, so I haven’t figured out how to insert a picture with text. I can get it in, but I can’t add text after it. So, it’s at the end of this piece.

It’s such fun to find objects and creating something with them.  When finished, you have a story to tell. The metal is from an old mining site here in Nevada that we visited. I believe that is where we saw a rattlesnake as big as you’d ever want to see one, and a little too close for comfort. He was cold, though, and didn’t bother us.

I find my fabrics, trims and yarns in various and sundry places. Some come from my discontinued books (I have an interior design business), some come from friends and family, some come from yard sales, and some come from the local fabric store. I just love fabric and sometimes a pattern just has to come home with me. It sort of jumps into the cart as I pass by. How can I not give it a home?

Sometimes, I create a unique fabric with some of the methods I’ve described previously. There are many more ways to create unique fabrics and they can be made with objects you probably have at home or that are easily found.

I have collected stamps at yard sales with the intent of making designs on fabric. Stamps are easily procured. Or if you’re feeling really creative, you can cut a simple design on an eraser–one of those tan ones–and carve the design out so as to leave raised places on the eraser, making it a stamp.

Using acrylic paint, put a bit on a plate. Using a foam paint brush, brush some to cover the stamp surface. Now, you can press the stamp onto the fabric. Press hard and don’t rock. Do this all over the fabric until you are satisfied with the results.

Or you might try the same thing with paint sticks and a stencil. Transfer the paint from the stick to a brush and then paint over the stencil pattern. 

Just remember to let it dry thoroughly, and once dry, iron the back to set the paint. You can paint directly onto fabric, which I do with metallic paints to embellish existing prints. I usually do this after I’ve rolled them because I think you get better results this way.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas because next week I’m going to explain how to roll them. It’s pretty basic, but it does take practice and good fine motor skills.

Have a great weekend. Maybe we’ll get to go roaming in the desert after all.

 

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A Little Detour

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I’ve been thinking that some of you might not understand how art can be an adventure or an adventure be art. Well, all of life is an adventure and putting it into art just makes it more interesting.

People tell me how busy I am. Well, of course, I know I’m busy, but you see, life is for living and if you’re not filling it up, then what is it for at all? Every day should be full of stuff–hopefully stuff that is creative and rewarding and fun. Even drudgery can be meditation. Even the dullest things can be fun.

For example, I have a quarter-acre of land (minus the house) to keep cleared of weeds. I don’t believe in using chemicals, so that means getting on my hands and knees and pulling out the little buggers before they turn to seed. Now, this is the desert, so an over abundance of weeds isn’t usually a problem, but we had a good deal of rain last year. That means all bets are off. So, I put on my sun protection, including a really ugly hat, grab up my kneeling pad and digger and go after the weeds. Nothing interferes and I find that I am at peace with the world. I watch ants working to bring in the harvest, lizards scurrying off to hide under a rock and the neighbors cat slinking along the fence. If we put seed out in the feeders, I am accompanied by a chorus of little finches fighting over the feed sock. 

All of this can be turned into art. I discovered that one of my cactus plants has at least 30 buds getting ready to burst into bloom. Have you ever seen the desert in bloom? It is magnificent. This plant is showing its spring blessings in fuscha. I also have red and yellow and purple blooming around the yard.

There is inspiration in the color, the texture, the form. Nature gives us all we need to be inspired. And we are all creative creatures that need to express ourselves, whether in words, song, paint, dance, craft or movement.

Adventure becomes art when it is carefully thought out and planned for and then executed with design and gratitude. It can be as simple as a picnic in the desert or a 10 day campout in Canyonlands (which we are doing in Sept.). Just take your creative nature along with you and see what happens. I will take my sketch pad, my camera and a beading project, but I don’t need to leave home for a creative fix. I can walk out my back door and there it is. I am surrounded by life and the adventure of living.

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This is just one of many cacti that bloom in the spring.