Saturday, October 15, 2016

Inspiration - what inspires me !

This week my friend Regina Krawets and I went to the NSW Art Gallery to see an exhibition of Frida Kahlo's art, along with some Diego Rivera pieces.

I was very glad I went as in 2008 I visited the San Francisco MOMA to see a Frida Kahlo exhibition and saw a lot of her artworks, so I wanted to see what else was being shown here in Sydney.

This exhibition was more about her life with Diego, having lots of photographs but not a great deal of her paintings. There certainly were things I had not seen before and some lesser known drawings of her early work. I am glad I went.

Frida Kahlo is an artist that really inspires me. I guess it is the ethnicity of her work along with her choice of colours and inclusion of pattern in her artworks. Not to mention her own attire. Her floral hair adornments really inspire my beadwork and I love her quotation. "I paint flowers so they will not die"

I can certainly live by that quote when beading flowers.

Another of my favourite artists is Matisse. In particular a period in his artwork where he depicted a person in a room with colourful backgrounds and lots of pattern, one example being Matisse's "The Red Room."

I have done a drawing of a nude with a Matisse influence (on the right)

If you google Matisse you will find lots of his images and it is obvious I am not the only person he inspires with this period in his artwork.

I then remembered seeing some modern day photographs of models in colourful settings with a Russian ethnicity about them.

These images inspire me enormously. I love their vibrancy of colour and revel in the play of one colour against another colour.
Look at that blue in her dress against the cerise of the wallpaper. Look at the lines of yellow, green, hot pink, blue of the eggs in the foreground. This makes me sigh with awe……Wow !!

I love the inclusion of many patterns as it makes my eye travel around and around the image, noticing not just the model's face but what else is there.

Look at all those patterns in the image on the right - too many? - are your senses overloaded? - are you inspired also? - does it work for you? - are your eyes travelling around and around to take it all in?

Mine are.

Here is another image (on the leftt) with an even greater abundance of pattern to delight in. The colours are not excessively bright. The wallpaper is muted in tone, and yet her apparel more rich and lush in colour. The reds of the skirt make it come alive !!

Having said the above I also find inspiration in an image with more simplicity, like the one on the right. Here we have no pattern, just a reliance on the colours and the image itself. The luscious vibrancy of that red against that blue - the Wow! factor for me - set against the monochrome of the remainder of the picture.

This image looks so tranquil and her expression so pensive,
yet the image is pregnant with the symbolism of the eggs. What symbolism comes to my mind with an egg are

Birth, new life, fertility, new ideas, creation continuing, life goes on, sustenance, hard shell, containment, just to name a few.   If you google "symbolism of an egg in art" you will get a gazillion explanations…….what comes to your mind?

I wanted to share how something as rich as these images influence my own creativity.

Have you found what makes you go "oh…WOW!!"

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Collection of Christmas Ornaments

It is a pleasure to introduce the most recent addition to my Christmas Collection of ornaments - "Starlight so Bright" - above.

I had fun designing this one and was happy to play with the new Swarovski fluoro pink rivoli, combining it with hot pink and orange seed beads.

As usual I like to make more than one and wanted to do something I hadn't done before - an hombre colour palette - different for me and one I will repeat. I hope you like them both.

I thought I would do a much needed blog post and share all the Christmas pieces I have done over the last few years.

These two images are the front and back of my "Anahata" Star. One of my favourites.

Then there is another one I did around the same time in gold, red and green - on the right.

I made these Christmas Trees last year and they have been a tremendous success with customers.

Lastly, my seven point star "Stellar Australis" also successful with customers and continues to sell well each year.

I am sure I will design many more. I have so many ideas in mind and every year we celebrate Christmas.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Gratitude and some soul searching

I have just watched the movie "Julie and Julia" for probably the fifth or sixth time. I do enjoy this movie and the characters are so well played by Meryl Streep and Amy Adams - if you haven't seen it make the effort, it is a "feel good" movie.

As I watched Julie writing her blog, it occurred to me how irregular I have been in my own blog writing. When I first began this blog I went from 29 posts in 2010, to 95 posts in 2012, to only 12 posts in 2014. So far this year I have done 13, certainly an improvement on 2014. I ask myself what happened with my regularity?

I can account for some drop in posts. In 2012 I didn't write tutorials. In 2014 I started writing tutorials.

Writing tutorials takes a great deal of time. Every step for making the beaded item needs to be illustrated, along with the instructions being concisely worded for ease of understanding. It can take a whole week to complete a tutorial. The tutorial for 'Ananas' pictured alongside took me 46 hours to illustrate and write. That is a weeks work for some. And to think I have done all that work and not been paid - at least not been paid yet!!

So writing tutorials takes you away from beading/designing and accounts for some of the drop in my blog postings.

What else has contributed to fewer postings? I look at all the posts in 2012 and notice I was sharing all the items I made as well as sharing the "works in progress".

I no longer share my W.I.P. and the reason being - I was copied ! - before I even had a chance to write the tutorial. That tends to put a sour taste in my mouth and has made me a lot more guarded as to what I share these days. So now I make a design, write a tutorial, then share what I have made - the spontaneity has been taken out of my passion!!  and the passion has been taken out of my spontaneity!!
I am sad this has happened.

I started beading with the idea that maybe I could earn a few extra dollars to subsidise my retirement. I didn't know I would be okay at it, I didn't know I would write instructions for creating my designs and I didn't know these instructions would be sold around the world. I also didn't know I would be in demand to travel and teach.

All these things contribute to a new career for me, one I never expected to be living.….at this late age!!
I know, I know, you are only as old as you feel. I don't feel old, I still feel spritely and have a good outlook on life. I am now approaching 66, an age I expected to be slowing down, an age for pottering around the garden and maintaining my home. Two things that have sadly been neglected for a couple of years.

I have worked for 49 years - that is a lot of working!!

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I love beading, I love getting up each morning and I love sitting in the quiet and playing with beads. My love of beading will never change. The dilemma I am facing is "Do I want a new career?" "Do I want my life to speed up when I expected to be slowing down?"

So now that I have poured out my thoughts, I am asking what is the point of this post?

I am wanting to share with those aspiring designers/teachers out there in cyberland that there is a LOT of things to come up against, to learn, to process through, to decide, to consider, to define and a lot more work than I ever expected. Some of it is fantastic, some of it is exhausting and time consuming.

I guess I am trying to communicate that when you fall in love with something that you are passionate about, the Universe supports passion!  I honestly can affirm this. My passion has been supported every step of the way and has brought me to this stage in my life….and a pretty good stage to be in!!

I am most grateful for this journey. I feel the next steps are just beginning. But!! where do I want them to go? How do I want them to be?  Faster or Slower??

Only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My Purchases - Putting Away the New Stash

It has been awhile since I did a post. I had every intention of doing a regular post whilst in the U.S.A. but you get caught up in meeting people and doing other things and my blog gets forgotten.

I returned home just over a week ago and didn't feel like doing anything when I got back. I did a lot of cooking and sitting watching Television, catching up on my favourite shows. I didn't do much TV watching whilst overseas so I enjoyed just doing very little.

It is time to put my bead purchases away - or attempt to find a home for the new stuff !!
I thought I could take pics and share what I bought as I put it away. Every beader loves to see what other beaders pick up in their travels - well I do anyway !!  LOL (click on images to make them larger)

First up are the tubes of seed beads. Mostly colours I already have with a few new colours & sizes. I thought I had better get some red as it is the one colour I don't have much choice in.

The next image (on the right) are packs of beads I have not worked with before. I always like to get a sampling and play with them before buying more.
There are the arcos and minos beads in the foreground (red and turquoise), some new cabochon beads (middle foreground), snap clasps to try, a whole variety of earring packs to see if I like them, silver grey thorns, tiny daisy flowers in purple, pink and a strand of lovely gold, mustard drops I wanted to replenish having already used these before, 2mm pearls, also the new beads in the centre called Ripple Beads. Fun times ahead!

This next image is a kit I bought from Diane Whiting, who showed me how to make a tassel. I bought the kit and while at the show I found some really colourful small tassels, along with antique gold chain tassels. The black tassel is for me to play with but I bought that only yesterday. I think you will be seeing tassels in my future designs. They do seem to be popular at the moment.

Now this image (on the right) is of two textured pieces (not buttons), rivolis and lunasoft cabs I picked up. I like to collect centrepieces. There is also a large rivoli which was a gift from my host, Lorraine. Very generous.

I have quite a large collection of 4mm druk (round) Czech beads. I can never have too many as I use them a lot. Needless to say I bought more whilst at B&B - not shown. The image on the left is of 6mm strands I started collecting. I am putting larger beads in my work more often so I thought I had better start collecting. Well that is my excuse !!

Now alongside (left) are packets of montees as well as cup chain. I have quite a collection of cup chain, I just love taking them out and wrapping them around pieces to see if the colours work. This little grouping will be added to my collection.
I hear they now have 'snag-free' cup chain. Sheeeesh….more to be collected in time.

This image (on right) is a picture of freebies handed out at the show, as well as gifts people gave me in my travels. There are two beads from Patricia Larsen, a great lamp work artist from Hawaii. Also that orange ball in the centre - that is a foam ball holding pins with A,B,C,D,E….etc on the pins. The idea is to stick these pins into your bead mat to mark the beads for when reading a tutorial - a great idea I think.

Next (on left) is an image of some lamp work beads I bought. I don't do a lot of designing with lamp work beads, but it is never too late to start. I really like the mushroom shaped orange ones. The purple pieces are vintage lily and flower shapes. I may work these into a design one day. Also the bangle blanks are for experimentation in the future, never having tried these before either.

I did buy some practical things. Two small storage boxes, a pack of wax which is great to use and a new tool I had not seen before. It is called an awl, you use it to unpick your work. I was using a sewing unpicker, but you run the risk of cutting your thread and have to be mindful where the blade is when using it. This awl is not sharp so it does the unpicking beautifully. Fast becoming my favourite tool. Naturally I bought quite a few, gifts for my friends, one in US and some here in Australia.

This next pick (left) is a gift I received. The carry case, small bead-on-it-board plus a box of orange and gold beads for me to create something was so generous. As you can see I have already started working on the tear drop centrepiece. Missing from this pic are four tubes of seed beads as I put those in the first pick top left.

The last image is of a variety of colours in the new cabochon beads - I bought these from ACL Patterns and More, from my friend Aurelio Castano and Edwin Batres. Also a whole lot of sew on Swarovski crystals and Heather Kingsley-Heath's book on Albion Stitch, which I naturally had her autograph for me.

I think I did alright in the purchasing stakes, I have put some of it away as I took the pics but there are still a lot of new things I have no place for as yet. Isn't it always the way?

I have collected these items for me to play with. I still have not wrapped my head around purchasing larger quantities for kitting as yet. That will be next me thinks !!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


I am in the United States and travelling to Milwaukee for the Bead & Button Show. Before I arrive in Milwaukee I visited Chicago and had a look around. What a pretty, and BIG, city.

I was instantly taken by the mixture of the old and new architecture, and new architecture made to emulate old.

Here are a few images of the old and a more recent building in an Art Deco style.

My friend/host Barbara and I decided to take a boat cruise to see the architecture of Chicago and I was certainly glad I did. 
I would recommend Wendella Boat Tours to everyone.

The commentator really knew her stuff and made the histories of Chicago, the buildings, the characters really informative and humorous during the tour.
On the right you have the tallest building in Chicago.
I took this picture as I really liked the straight lines of the buildings offset against the shorter curving lines of the shorter building.

 One of the things I didn't know was Chicago had a massive fire in 1871, dry weather and an abundance of wooden buildings, streets and sidewalks made Chicago vulnerable to fire. 
The fire burned for two days, leaving an estimated 300 people dead and 100,000 others homeless. More than 17,000 structures were destroyed and damages were estimated at $200 million.

Despite the fire's devastation, much of Chicago's physical infrastructure, including its transpotation systems, remained intact.  Reconstruction efforts began quickly and spurred great economic development and population growth, as architects laid the foundation for a modern city featuring the world's first skyscrapers. At the time of the fire, Chicago's population was approximately 324,000, within nine years there were some 500,000 Chicagoans.
By 1890, the city was a major economic and transportation hub with an estimated population of more than one million people. (In America, only New York City had a larger population at the time).

Something else I learnt was a man named George Washington Ferris, a civil engineer from Illinois, invented the Ferris wheel in the 1890's. The first Ferris wheel was built for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The total Cost of the wheel was $300,000.00. The image alongside is not the original but there is still one there.

There were some interesting images for me to play with and I really like the photo on the left here showing a modern skyscraper in the background with an old ironwork bridge, raised and no longer used.

In the evening I went to see a comedy performance at a place called "Second City Review". A lot of current well known performers/comics cut heir teeth at this theatre. 
Not being American I found some of the humour fell flat for me -  not knowing the local politics - but I still enjoyed the show and had many laughs.

Chicago is a city in which I would like to spend more time. One day is not enough and I hope to re-visit Chicago again before returning to Australia.

One other thing, I stopped at the Swarovski shop and purchased myself some man-bling.

 I shall always look at this piece and remember "I bought that in Chicago"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Travelling again.

I am getting very excited as my next trip to the USA and my second visit to the Bead & Button 
show is getting closer, not to mention my teaching in New York at Beads by Blanche.

I have been busily writing tutorials for months now. I also did a new design I am calling my
"Erin Isles" collection and have been kitting, figuring out printing, labels and packaging for 
these as well. 

The pic on the left is my 
Erin Isles - Forest Glen colour way.
The pic on the right is my
Erin Isles - Seafoam colour way.

I did do another colour scheme but wasn't happy with it so it was pulled apart.

Every experienced beaders can get it wrong sometimes.

There is such a lot of work involved when designing, writing tutorials, making and packing kits.
When travelling to teach there is not just one design to consider but many. I have not been one
for kitting my designs so when I travel to teach a mountain of work has to happen.

My intention - when I return from this journey - will be designing and kitting more regularly. 
If I do this then when I accept another teaching gig the work will already be done - well that
is the hope !!

I have been bead-weaving now for some 8 years and I am still learning heaps, still getting
my act together, still loving beading - with a passion. I doubt that will ever change.

I will be posting up my travel pics along the way so stay tuned and see what mischief I get up to.

Bon Voyage to me !!   LOL

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Inspiration - where does it come from?

People often ask me "Where do I get my ideas from?" and "what inspires me?" Being a teacher I have heard students say they don't know what to make, don't know what colour/s to use etc.

There are many areas in our daily lives capable of inspiring Bead artists so I hope to inspire you by sharing some ideas and giving some examples of where myself and other artists get our inspiration from. Believe me 
it is limitless.

First up is the pretty obvious one of


Color is around us all day and all night, it is everywhere, we even dream in color. Imagine the bright colors of Spring blossoms, the intensely rich earthy Summer desert scenes, the warm tones of Autumn leaves or the cool/cold/crisp whites of a Winter wonderland, just to name the seasons. Speaking of seasons, how about fashion colors in clothing and interior design? these also inspire and luckily regularly alter. A favorite piece of artwork, the color of someone's eyes, the changing hues of water, shadows as the sunlight moves, the sheen of feathers on a bird, the colors of a snake and the list is endless…………… here we have Aurelio Castano's color inspiration taken from an American Rattlesnake, awesome work also awesome snake.


You may have a favorite piece of fabric that you love because of its patterning or its colours? You may love the intricacy of a piece of lace. You may see terrific wallpaper in a magazine, a house, a store or even as display in a wallpaper shop.  

Pattern can be abstract like a psychedelic shirt, linear like tartan, circular like polka-dots or paisley, or a mix of all these nowadays. What about image repetition to form pattern - we see those every day and most don't even register in our mind. Seeing a row of items can inspire a design. Pattern is part of our everyday life also, just like colour is………on the left we have Cynthia Newcomer Daniel's design from a love of lace and on the right we have Sand Fibers - Carol Dean Shapre - design "Cubism" inspired by a fabric pattern.   How good do these look? (click to enlarge images)


People love to touch, love the feel of different things. Inspiration also comes from how something feels. What about a spiky ocean critter, or an echidna/porcupine. All spiney protrusions are possible to achieve with spike beads or daggers like my 'Echinoderm' bracelet.


I love architecture. Inspiration from architecture is also limitless and we have so many styles of architecture covering such a diverse and wide range from Roman to present day. Consider the curves in a modern building, the patterning of exterior finishes, the sails of an Opera House, the stain glass windows in a church, the steeples of a mosque, the lines of a gothic building, the material used to make the various surfaces and again the list is endless……… example of Art Deco architecture is the Chrysler Building in New York City inspiration for my Art Deco bracelet.


Many people paint beautiful scenery, photograph mountains and trees. We cannot escape nature as it is all around us and why not try to allow a massive scene to inspire and get the creative juices to flow? Neva Brown had Machu Picchu as the challenge inspiration for a brooch.

Duplication of what you see

This is where you make something that you see in life, a literal piece.  
My friend Regina Krawets of Kaleidoscope Wearable Art, recently designed a piece based on bubbles. We all see bubbles in our daily life and this is an amazing representation of them.

Whereas Aurelio loves bugs and fruit. Just look at the amazing workmanship in this fly, and the pineapple - an incredible eye for detail.

So here are just two examples of literal translations of what exists to inspire.


How inspiring are flowers? and floral arrangements? I think they need a special mention all of their own.
Flowers may be the biggest of all inspiration as they are very often used in jewellery. As often as the coming and going of the seasons. 

Many bead artists endeavour to create floral representations and with the amazing colours available today how could they not be inspirational!!

On the left is the beautiful Briar Rose design of Marsha Weist-Hines from Haute Ice Beadwork. Such workmanship and intricacy!

On the right is a floral grouping I made, my first. I had so much fun making this one.

Literature and imagination

So far we have only mentioned things that we physically see for inspiration. We cannot omit the images we conjure in our own mind when we are reading a book, listening to music, reciting a poem. All these things also trigger a
flow of internal imagery. 

Just look at Neva Brown's beautiful piece called "Lady of Shalott" all inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem of the same name.

There she weaves by night and day 
A magic web with colours gay. 
She has heard a whisper say, 
A curse is on her if she stay 
To look down to Camelot. 
She knows not what the curse may be, 
And so she weaveth steadily, 
And little other care hath she, 
The Lady of Shalott.

New Beads and experimentation

Last, but not least, all the new shapes and colours of beads coming out.  Inspiration is triggered when you experiment. Just sitting and playing with the variety of two hole beads now available gets your creative juices flowing. New ideas and new ways to use them are being discovered all the time. In my 'Passion Flower' brooch/ pendant we have Super-duos, lentils, two hole daggers and what an eye-catcher they make.

Just for the fun of it.

This is an interesting category for inspiration. You can find inspiration in the oddest of places to create a design very original in concept. Here we have Kris Empting-Obenland's tribute to Fred Spillmann who used cigarettes in fashion. Kris' cigarette necklace is a monument to him and I am amazed at how she has added such detail, right down to lipstick on the butts.

Today's post is just a small snippet of all the inspiration that surrounds us. Be open to what is around you, what is attractive to you, what catches your eye, your attention. All you have to do is open your eyes, really look, and be open to the possibilities. 

You have heard the line 'Stop and smell the Roses' how about changing that to 'Stop, smell the Roses, look at how beautiful the colour, how delicate the shape, how soft the petals, how pointed the thorns, how green the leaves, how interesting the angles, the light play...………...and the inspiration begins.'