An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two UK competitions for beaders due in the next couple of weeks

Simply vintage
  • Due date: 31st October 2009
  • Beadazzle beads (UK)
  • Beading goods to the value of 20.00 (UK pounds)
  • More details:
Jewellery Making Kit competition
  • Due date: 7th November 2009
  • Absolutely Charming (UK)
  • More details:
  • Competition open to UK residents only.

Official Etsy Beadweaver's Video - now on Youtube

Christina (Good Quill Hunting) from the Etsy Beadweaver's Team (EBW) has made a wonderful promotional video of the work of the EBW team. Glenda is a member of the team and her bracelet - Blueberry Zinger (see left) is in the video. So, is lots of wonderful beadwork from the very talented group in the EBW team.

Here is the link to the video if you'd like to have a look:

Ten ways to have orange in our beading life: it may not rhyme but can it increase sales?

I’m working lots with orange beads at present. I’ve found it an energising colour to work with and I’ve listed two pieces of my orange beadwork on Etsy in the past week – Tangerine Fizz (the necklace in the photo) and Oranje diamonds (the bracelet in the photo).
However, for English speakers who create with words (poets and songwriters) orange may be more frustrating than energising. It’s an English word (along with Purple and Silver) that doesn’t rhyme with any other English words. Mind you two composers (Charles Fox and Normal Gimbel) were inspired by this fact to write a song called ‘Oranges, Poranges’ in the musical ‘H.R. Pufnstuf’. Here's the chorus:

Oranges poranges, who says,
oranges poranges, who says,
oranges poranges, who says?
there ain't no rhyme for oranges!

You can find this song being performed on Youtube: if you’d like a distraction from beading or other things in your life.

The song may not be the most inspiring song in the world but reputedly orange décor can inspire higher sales in cafeterias, so I wonder if the same works for beadwork on Etsy? I wonder if my orange beadwork will inspire higher Etsy sales for me?

Whether or not, orange inspires sales or not, it’s hard to imagine a world without orange and using the word orange to describe it. However, the English-speaking world did without the word orange until the English court of King Henry V111 in 1512. Prior to this time the English referred to the colour orange as yellow-red (geoluhread in Old English). The English word for the colour orange comes from the Sanskrit word for the fruit ‘orange’, which is naranga. In reflecting on our current English words for the orange colour spectrum it seems the world of fruit and vegetables is at the heart of many of the words we use. Here’s ten foods that I could think of that are also used in the English language as ‘colour’ words for variations on the colour orange.
1. Apricot
2. Mango
3. Peach
4. Tangerine
5. Carrot
6. Pumpkin
7. Saffron
8. Canteloupe
9. Cumquat
10. Sweet potato

I haven’t checked if you can create rhymes for each of these words, or whether or not they appear in songs about them but I do know that they provide me as a beader with a language to describe the energising colours of orange in my beadwork. Can you think of others?


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

50 ways to say 'Red' for beaders, Donavan and dead beetles

It’s a stunning spring morning here in southern Australia – the sun is shining and the air is full of the perfume of mid spring flowers. From my breakfast table I can see bright red tulips in flower around a small pond that was created this winter. We were delighted to find tadpoles in the pond at the weekend. The tulips show lots of beautiful variations of red as the petals open and their colours dance in the sunlight. How can I best describe the wonderful red tonal variations of those tulips? Scarlet? Burgundy? Pomegranate?. There is a bluish-red tone that I'm struggling to name. So, off to ‘Google’ for help. After discovering hundreds of ways to say ‘Red’ via Google I’ve created a list of my favourite 50. Now I have a wonderful set of words to inspire and describe 'red' in my beadwork.

My favourite new word for red is Alizarin – it’s apparently a vivid crimson red. It was produced from the madder root plant in the 1800s but it’s now synthetically recreated. Alizarin had some short-lived fame in the 1960s when Donovan mentioned it in his 1967 song "Wear Your Love Like Heaven"(Lyrics now correct thanks to Patrick!)

The words from the second chorus went like this:
Wear my love like heaven
Wear my love like heaven
Wear my love like heaven

Color sky havana lake
Color sky rose carthemene
Alizarin crimson

I love the ‘red' words ‘Crimson’ and ‘Carmine’ as well – they evoke such vivid rich reds that seem to capture the dominant reds in our tulips. However, it’s hard to reconcile such beautiful colours with dead insect bodies but I've learnt that crimson dye is created from the dried bodies of the kermes insect that live on the Mediterranean Kermes oak tree and carmine dye is created from the dried bodies of the female cochineal beetle which is a parasite on cactus plants.(See photo on the right of Prickly Pear plants with traps for collecting cochineal beetles).

The cochineal industry has had a rather murky history in Australia. Captain Phillip attempted to start it in the early days of the colony (1700s) by importing cochineal-infested prickly pear plants into Australia from Brazil in order to break the monopoly on cochineal dyes Spain and Portugal had at that time. Amongst other uses, the British used the cochineal to dye their colonial soldier's coats red. The cochineal insects quickly died in Australia but the Prickly Pear planted thrived and became a noxious weed covering over 100,o00 miles of southern Australia. You can still see remnants of the Prickly Pear where I live but it was officially brought under control in the 1920s. Tulips have also been imported into Australia but with less devastating impact - mind you I'm now drawn to research the history of their impact in Australia. So, whilst I enjoy the tulips they have a very small and special spot in the garden where they can be controlled. The remainder of our large garden is slowly being planted with indigenous plants whose reds are just as beautiful as those of the tulips and whose presence is much more important to the wildlife of the area. That wildlife includes the beautiful Australian rosella parrot whose red feathers inspired the beadwork that brought me my first sale on Etsy (see bracelet below) and it's red is still one of my favourite reds.

What is your favourite red? What’s missing from my list? I'd love to read about your reds.

50 favourite ways to say red
Dyes from the natural world
1. Alizarin
2. Carmine
3. Crimson

4. Amaranth
5. Burgundy
6. Sangria (color)

Food plants
7. Candy apple red
8. Cerise (or Cherry)
9. Persimmon
10. Raspberry
11. Strawberry
12. Pomegranate
13. Chilli
14. Paprika
15. Radish
16. Beetroot red

17. Rose
18. Rose madder
19. Fuchsia
20. Poppy red

21. Carnelian
23. Ruby
24. Garnet
25. Red jasper

Natural world
26. Lava
27. Flame
28. Rust
29. Terracotta
30. Blood
22. Coral

Built world
31. Fire engine red

Various other origins of ‘red’
32. Burnt sienna (an iron oxide pigment)
33. Cardinal (there is a red Finnish granite with this name)
34. Cinnabar (from the Greek "kinnabari" it is applied to red mercury)
35. Cochineal (from the beetle with the same name)
36. Falu red (Swedish name for deep brownish red paint)
37. Fulvous (brownish red found on the Whistling Duck)
38. Gules (means red in the world of Heraldry)
39. Magenta (a dye discovered shortly after the 1859 Battle of Magenta near Magenta, Italy)
40. Maroon (derived from French marron for "chestnut")
41. Persian red (deep reddish orange pigment from soils in the Persian Gulf)
42. Puce (French word that means "flea" as flea coloration is either dark reddish-brown or dark purplish-brown).
43. Rosella (vivid crimson red found in the Rosella parrots of Australia)
44. Rosso corsa (the red international motor racing colour of cars entered by teams from Italy.)
45. Rouge (Red in French)
46. Rufous (various and diverse origins but lots of birds with some brownish red feathers are given this name)
47. Scarlet (from the Persian säqirlāt)
48. Upsdell red (deep medium red created for Reverend G Upsdell, the first headmaster for the new site of King George V School in Hong Kong after World War II)
49. Venetian red (obtained from iron ore deposits in the Veneto region, Italy).
50. Vermilion (naturally occurring opaque orangish red pigment derived from the powdered mineral cinnabar).

  • Finlay, Victoria (2002) Colour, London, The Folio Society, 2009

Heavenly treasury for Moonpools brooch

It's always lovely to be featured in a Treasury by a fellow Etsian - here is a 'heavenly' treasury in which my Moonpools brooch (middle of the second row from the top) was featured last week.

Beading competitions update - October 2009

For beaders out there who like entering competitions here are a couple more competitions to consider entering:

8th Annual The Ugle Necklace Competition 2010

Deadline: March 15th,
More details:
International and US

Glasscraft and Bead Expo
Gallery of Excellence Juried Art competition (section on beadwork)
Deadline: April 8th, 2010
More details:

Based in USA

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Travelling with your beading – a packing list, do’s, don’ts and never say never

Over the past 10 years I have done lots of beading on long haul flights between Australia and the rest of the world. Post 9/11 I have had to change my beading packing list a little to ensure it meets airline and airport security requirements – I still can cut thread but have a ‘daisy-wheel’ cutter that comes with me. I wrote myself a beading packing list after forgetting to take thread with me on a flight between Melbourne and London. This left me bereft of beading for the 21 hour plus flight and it made me determined to never do that again. So, here’s my packing list:
  • Needles - lots of spares (at least 10) that go in a very light wooden needle case.
  • Thread – to match whatever I am beading but only the small spools to keep the pack light.
  • Clover thread cutter and a spare (see photo). I put a cutter on a lanyard that I can hang around my neck during the flight. It saves fiddling around in the dark for the cutter. If you just Google 'Clover thread cutter' you'll find places to buy one if you don't own one already.
  • A small tray for putting the beads in and a plastic bag for locking it away. My favorite tray was given to me by a flight attendant some years ago.
  • My beads (more than I think I need) and always now placed in a plastic zip bag inside a second zip bag for security.
  • My beading case which contains all of the above. It is essential that it has a lid that can be snapped closed in the blink of an eye and that it can fit easily into the seat pocket.
  • A strong elastic band (and a spare) that can secure the beading case, just in case the closure breaks or lets you down.
  • A small magnet that can be used to pick up a needle if you drop it – it can help you to find a needle at a distance and in poor light.
  • A headlamp with small coin batteries (the one’s camper’s and caver’s use) for extra light. Booklights can work but they are harder to control and can fall into your beads.
  • Spare batteries for the headlamp.
  • Spare plastic zip bags.
Beading on flights not only passes the time but it often generates some interesting conversations. From flight attendants to Extreme Metal rock stars (see an earlier blog) I’ve found people curious to know about what I am doing, intrigued by what can be created using tiny glass seed beads and pensive (and sometimes apprehensive) about what might happen if I drop the beads. I have always confidently reassured them that I have sound strategies to avoid beads flying through the air or peppering the walkways. Through experience I have built a list of beading rules for flights that have served me well.
  • Do put beads in small light containers that can be kept in a second container for extra security. Beads in plastic bags have a habit of breaking open or splitting just at the wrong moment. So, I always put them in inside a second ‘security’ bag. The same for small light plastic containers.
  • Do only put a small number of beads on your working surface at any one time – then if you do drop them it’s not such a disaster.
  • Don’t ever bead during take off or landing, unless you are feeling adventurous.
  • Do have a quick way to cover your beadwork in case your neighbour suddenly has to dash to the toilet – I have my beads in a small case whose lid comes down at moment’s movement from the nearby passengers.
  • Do be alert to flight attendants about to serve meals and drinks – they can pounce a meal tray or packet of peanuts on your beadwork without even noticing that it’s there.
  • Do be turbulence vigilant and ready to secure your beads speedily and do believe the captain when they warn of turbulence. The captain is often right.
  • Don’t bother with peyote patterns – the light will never be good enough, there’s never enough room to spread them out and you’ll probably sit next to someone who will talk to you every time you try to follow the pattern.
  • Do take some additional lighting with you– the lighting always dims the moment you start beading and if there is a broken light on the flight it will be above your seat. I have had a broken light above my seat more than once on long haul flights between Australia and Europe. It's a long time to squint at beading.
  • Do remember your glasses if like me you can't even see the beads without them. Sometimes in an emergency you can buy a spare pair of 'travel glasses' from the airlines in-flight shop magazine but it's an expensive way to bead!
  • Do watch for small children who are bored and wandering around the aisles. Your beadwork is bound to be a beacon for them.
  • Do establish early in the flight if the person in front of you is a sudden seat lurcher - wait for take off and the moment when everyone puts their seat back to find that out. Then you can be prepared for them.
These strategies had served me well until a flight across the Tasman yesterday from Australia to New Zealand. I had confidently told cabin staff I had never dropped by beads only moments before I realised why people say ‘never say never’. You see it became clear that I had never dropped my beads before because I had never sat next to an eight-year old person before. She proved to be far more unpredictable than any turbulence I had experienced and much quicker than any cabin staff serving meals. So, I have a new rule to add to my list – Do avoid all beading when eight-year old people are sitting next to you!

Do you have any beading rules for travelling? What do you pack when you bead and travel? Would love to hear.

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op