Saturday, January 24, 2015

Free Tutorial -- A beading math lesson with David's Star for children and adults

Maybe you read my paper on using tiling theory to generate angle weaves with beads (PDF).  Then again, maybe you didn't.  One of the most elegantly simple weaves that I presented in that paper is what I called, "David's Star."  You can read about it on pages 12 and 13, and even if you don't want to read anything, you can look at the three bracelets on page 13 that use the same technique as I show here.   
I derived David's Star using mathematics, in particular the mathematics of tilings or tessellations.  Using a tiling to describe this weave, David's Star is the edge-and-cover angle weave for (6.6.6).  Let me explain that mouthful.  First we start with the regular tiling by hexagons, like what we commonly see in natural honeycombs.  This tiling is the black lines labeled (6^3) below. The standard notation for this tiling is (6.6.6), or (6^3) for short.  The 6 is because the tiles all have 6 sides (i.e., they're hexagons), and the 3 is for the 3 hexagons that meet at each vertex. 
The dark blue edge beads are the beads that you place on all of the edges of the tiling, the black line segments.  The cover beads are the beads that cover the thread between the edge beads when you sew each hexgon of beads in a loop of thread.  All of the non-dark-blue beads in the picture are cover beads.  So, David's Star is the edge-and-cover angle weave for (6.6.6).

I like this bead weave for several reasons.  First, it is very simple to stitch and works up relatively quickly.  Therefore, I think it's a good pattern for beginners who want to make a wide flat bracelet.  Second, the arrangement of beads allows for lots of different and beautiful ways to color the beads. Finally, the beads fit together really well: David's Star doesn't show thread or bead holes.  Oh, and one more thing, you can weave it in any direction.

I drew this picture today in preparation for an invited plenary talk and workshop I'll be giving in Washington State in April at a math conference.  For a moment, I considered writing up a complete tutorial and putting it in my Etsy shop.  Then I reconsidered.  For something this simple and basic to the art and math of beadweaving, I think this information should be generally available for free to those who are interested.  So here it is.  Also, a lot of people over the years have suggested that we should use beading more to teach mathematics, and I think that this particular weave is a nice choice for a math lesson. I made the beadwork in the photos here with pony beads and fishing line, and without a needle.  Beading the patch above is a good lesson in visualization.   Using pony beads and fishing line or stretchy thread makes it suitable for children and adults alike.

After trying this pattern, you can ask lots of extension questions in both math and art.  For example, ask, "What does an edge only weave of (6.6.6) look like?"  (Answer: Hexagon angle weave.) Or you could ask, "Draw the tilings (4^4) and (3^6)." "Can you draw the edge-and-cover weaves for these tilings?" and, "Can you bead weave them?"  The answers to these questions are explored in the paper I linked to above.

If you want to play with the art, draw a picture of an interesting coloring for David's Star and then weave it.  If you want a real challenge, (1) pick your own tiling, (2) draw an edge-and-cover weave for it, and then (3) bead it.

If you made it this far, please remember, I make most of my living selling my tutorials and other artwork.  So if you liked this little free-bee, and try it yourself or with a kid, maybe you'll be so pleased that you'll want to hop over to my website or Etsy shop and show your appreciation by buying something. It's like a buy-one-get-one-free, but in the opposite order.  If you've already purchased something, then consider this a thank you gift for supporting my work as an artist and teacher.  Without you, I couldn't afford the time to write this blog every week, and I'd have to get a normal job.  In any case, I hope you enjoyed this little mathematical beading lesson.  Thanks for looking.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Marsala Beaded Bead Necklace

This necklace features Pantone's 2015 Color of the Year, Marsala with aquamarine blue and titanium gray.
beaded beads
It includes 8 beaded beads: 5 Nuts & Washers, a Cube Cluster, an Octahedral Cluster, and a Conway Bead. I carefully selected 7 lampwork glass beads to make the strand into an asymmetric, yet perfectly balanced strand of beads. That's 15 beads in all. Together they make a pallet that is rich and earthy, sophisticated, and oh-so in fashion.

They're all strung on a yard of blue cord of pure silk that I twisted and plied on my spinning wheel.
beaded beads
It includes almost 6 inches (15 cm) of beads. Largest beaded bead measures almost an inch (23 mm).  Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bacteriophage in Beads for the Microbiologist Nerd in You

This beaded object represents a bacteriophage, a type of virus that infects and replicates within a bacterium. It contains a head (capsid), neck, collar, sheath, tail fibers and base plate. This was one of the many images I worked from of a bacteriophage.

My favorite part of this virus is the elongated icosahedral structure of the capsid, exhibiting a tessellation of pentagons and hexagons for the capsomeres.
For years, people have been telling me that some of my beaded beads look like viruses, so with a push from Dr. Mark O. Martin, I finally decided to bead something that really looks like a virus.
This piece measures about 6 inches high and 7 inches across. It's signed on one foot with my custom stamped gold filled tag.
It's made with glass beads, plastic tubes, wire and thread.  The head is hollow and is stiff yet flexible. This model has loops at the end of each leg so you could mount it on a wall. The legs contain wire, which are flexible, but I wouldn't recommend reposing it too many times or you could harden the wire and cause it to break.
This is original art. This is also an educational model. Think of it as a tactile mind game, a little bit of sparkle to entertain your brain. If you would like to take it home, it's for sale here. It's a great gift for the biochemist who has everything because they almost certainly don't have one of these.  Thanks for looking.

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Tutorial -- Snail Shells & Twisty Bits, Beaded with Peyote Stitch and Cellini Spiral

For the last couple months, I've been working on some new variations of Cellini Spiral.
With nothing more than seed beads and thread, you can learn to make bracelets, pendants, and beaded beads using my new tutorial, Snail Shells and Twisty Bits.
Like the popular Slugs in Love beaded pendants, Snail Shells and Twisty Bits are my original variations on the common Cellini spiral, combining peyote stitch, increases, and decrease.
This tutorial teaches you several different techniques that you can use to make all the designs shown here, or you can combine them in new ways to design your own beaded jewelry.
This tutorial is designed for beaders who already know how to bead weave Cellini Spiral and join two ends. If you would like to learn these techniques, I recommend this free video by Jill Wiseman:
The pattern for Snail Shells and Twisty Bits is suitable for intermediate bead weavers, with enough design possibilities to entertain advanced bead weavers. You can make lots of different designs, all with just seed beads and thread. No fancy shapes required.
The tutorial is a whopping 26 pages, with over 120 full color illustrations and photographs, making it one of my longest beading tutorials I've ever written.  I was very tempted to break it into two separate tutorials, limiting each to one main project with a variation or two, but I made 8 different designs all using the same techniques, and I can imagine at least as many more. By keeping it whole, I found that I could teach a bunch of different techniques that work together. That way, you beaders can combine the techniques to make your own designs for pendants, bracelets, and beaded beads. The tutorial gives highly detailed instructions for every step in the necklaces and bracelet, and then I show you large photos and give charts and commentary to help you build increasingly larger spirals and more complex pieces using the same techniques. It's both a project tutorial and a technique tutorial.  So, ask yourself, do you love Cellini spiral?  If so, then you will really enjoy Snail Shells and Twisty Bits.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Replicating DNA in Beads

I got a request to make piece of beaded DNA that is forked to look like it's replicating.
The specific sequence it shows is this:

Because this sequence is a palindrome,  when you fork it at the center, you get three identical branches.
This DNA sequence is recognized by an enzyme produced by this particular bacteria, Deinococcus radiodurans. It's a very tough bacterium. When I read, "As a consequence of its hardiness, it has been nicknamed Conan the Bacterium," I knew it was the one! 
If you would like to learn to make your own beaded DNA, check out my free video tutorial

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Patchwork Sweaters and Skirts

I've been sewing sweaters and skirts lately.  They say make what you like.  So I made this cardigan hoodie in blues and grays, all upcycled from felted wool sweaters, mostly merino.  I'd totally wear this, but I already made myself one, so this one is for sale at my local dress shop, Isabella Boutique in Sunnyvale, CA.
Here's a purple pullover sweater I made for my sister because purple is her favorite color.  She asked for a V neck, so I made her a V neck.  I've never made a V neck before, but she's happy. So that's all that matters.  It's made from mostly cashmere with some wool.  I hand dyed the two brightest purple fabrics because there just aren't enough purple cashmere sweaters made for my needs.  Both of these sweaters were inspired by the work of Katwise.
I decided that I really REALLY like the scrappy patchwork look in clothing.  When I wear patchwork clothing made from lots of different fabrics, I feel happy, like a well-loved rag doll.  Here is a blue skirt that looks cute with the blue sweater above.  It has a bunch of different fabrics from my quilting cotton collection and a double ruffle trim.
I made the waistband have a secret tie on the inside.  It's mostly elastic, but with the tie, you can get the waistline just the right length for a perfectly comfortable fit.
Here is a green skirt, all in cotton with an elastic waist.  The design of both of these skirts was inspired by the work of Obsequies.
This is a close up of the green and gray ruffled hem.  It looks like yellow, but it's really chartreuse. Limy lime green, my favorite color.
I'm about to release a new tutorial soon.  I haven't released a new tutorial in a while because I've been working on one tutorial for about two months. I took the first step photo in October. It's a sequel to Slugs in Love, including a bunch of Cellini spiral variations and techniques. I have taken a few breaks from this project, like when I was beading some older designs (in Marsala), and doing the sewing shown above. 
Now this tutorial is almost done.  There is light at the end of the tunnel! It looks like it's going to be 26 pages with around 130 photos and illustrations, definitely making it one of the longest beading tutorials I've ever written. I was very tempted to break it into two separate tutorials, limiting each to one main project with a variation or two.  But I made 8 different designs all using the same techniques, and I can imagine at least as many more.  So I'm keeping it whole.  By keeping it whole, I found that I could teach a bunch of different techniques that work together. That way, you beaders can combine the techniques to make your own designs for pendants, bracelets and beaded beads. I'm calling it "Snail Shells and Twisty Bits." I really hope you gals will find it worth the wait.  Thanks for looking.
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