Thursday, February 19, 2015

New Tutorial - Book of Kells Beaded Angle Weave Bracelets, Pendants and Beaded Beads

Learn to bead a Book of Kells Bracelet with just Japanese seed beads, shank buttons, and thread. No fancy shapes required! The Book of Kells weave is a fine beaded fabric that is flexible and comfortable. You can weave it in many different shapes because the pattern repeats like wallpaper.
This beading tutorial includes step-by-step instructions for weaving the aqua bracelet with the button hole clasp. This clasp is quite easy to do and undo, and it stays buttoned when you want it to. You will also learn how to layer the Book of Kells beadwork for 3D effects, and I show lots of examples to inspire you including these and more.
Book of Kells Jewelry
An unusual and complex angle weave, the Book of Kells design is suitable for intermediate bead weavers or advanced beginners who are comfortable with right angle weave. If you like RAW and want a new challenge, you’ll love this.

The beading tutorial is 29 pages, including over 100 illustrations and photographs. The tutorial is a PDF file that gives complete step-by-step instructions for how to make the aqua and black bracelet with a button clasp.
Book of Kells Beading Tutorial
On pages 19-24 are step-by-step instructions for how to add layers to the Book of Kells lace to thicken it for pendants and bracelets. This includes step photos and brief instructions for the pendant shown. As an added bonus, for more advanced weavers, I also include clear photos of the front and back of the pink bracelet, with information on the clasp with brief hints and tips (pp. 25-26), a chunky dimensional bracelet with larger beads (p. 27), and even a few step photos and hints to get you started on the Book of Kells beaded bead (pp. 28-29).
The tutorial only gives a few key step photos and a bit of written guidance for the beaded bead because I think after you've made the pendant, the beaded bead won't looks so complicated.  Plus, you advanced bead weavers need a little challenge from time to time to keep your minds nimble. Besides, after 29 pages of writing, I decided I needed to finish this tutorial and move onto the next project.

If you're wondering why I called this design "Book of Kells" you should really pop on over to the Trinity College Dublin website and check out the 1200 year old Book. Give the page a second to load.  It's setting up 680 thumbnails, photos of each page of the Book of Kells.  Scroll about 1/8 the way down the list on the left, and click on folio 33R.  That's the one that gave this design its name. While you're there, click on some of the other pages because the calligraphy is amazing.  The carpet page of Folio 188r about 60% down is also worth taking the time to click on it.
Thanks for looking!

Friday, February 6, 2015

T4 Bacteriophage Art Object in Beads No.2

A few weeks ago, I showed you my first beaded bacteriophage.  In the process of beading it, I learned that there were many more details known about the structure of the T4 bacteriophage than what I built.  So of course, I had to make another one with more details, bigger and better than the first.  Here you can see the two of them together.
The most significant difference between these two art objects is the capsid, or head. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)
The first phage includes 12 pentagons and 30 hexagons.  It turns out that 30 isn't nearly enough.  So, the second phage shows 12 pentagons and 155 hexagons, making it more representative of real T4 phages as far as I understand it.  There seems to be some debate over the precise arrangement of the hexagons, but I think this is the most recent understanding of the structure. (Correct me if I'm wrong!)  This capsid has about 3500 beads in it, just in case you were wondering. 
For the first phage, I made the sheath like a tube of stacked rings (of beads) because I didn't realize the sheath is actually a spiral.  So, for the second phage, I used a beaded spiral tube instead.  It's not quite the same type of spiral as on a real phage because I opted for artistic aesthetics over scientific accuracy.  Sometimes I worried a bit about these adjustments, but I kept reminding myself that no matter how accurate my representation of a virus, it still wont work.  Like, it's never going to be able to infect a bacteria.  You'd be surprised how many times I had to remind myself...
The second phage also has a  more accurate collar shape with whiskers on its collar. Here you can see how big it is.  The legs are quite springy.
The second phage also has a more elaborate base plate than the first with little fibers that hang down, as if it's getting ready to make its move and insert its DNA into its host bacterium. 
Both of these art objects are for sale in my Etsy shop, gwenbeads.
Small Bacteriophage (No. 1)
Large Bacteriophage (No. 2)

I always enjoy a good beading challenge.  So, I'd like to thank Dr. Mark O. Martin for encouraging me to bead a bacteriophage.  I really knew nothing about these things before he shared a picture with me.  In beading these pieces, I learned lots of fascinating facts about viruses and microbes, but one of the weirdest is about color and electron microscopes. It turns out that electron microscopes take pictures with electrons instead of light.  This way, they can "see" things that are much smaller than visible light waves, like a thousand times smaller!  Think about that... visible light waves are WAY too big to capture images of these viruses.  These virues are TOO SMALL FOR COLOR!  Chew on that.  A consequence of this is that electron micrographs never have natural color.  When you see color images, they are always colored after the fact by people (possibly with the help of a computer). 

In other beading news, I also made a Twisty Bits Necklace.  Ever since I finished writing the Twisty Bits Tutorial, I've been wanting to make this necklace in these colors, mixed metals with gold as the feature.
So here it is, a long beaded bead on a yard of silk cord.  It's for sale.  Click the photos to go to the listing.  Thanks for looking.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Upcycled Sweater Hoodies No. 7 8 and 9

Here are some photos of my latest hoodie cardigans made from felted wool and cashmere sweaters.  I wash the sweaters in hot water and dry them in the dryer to make them felt.  Then I cut them up and sew the pieces together on my serger sewing machine with some stitching done on my regular sewing machine because a serger doesn't do everything.  First is Sweater Number 7.  My great accomplishment on this piece was the front placket with buttons.  The placket is two layers, so it lies flat and is quite functional.  I'm quite pleased with this design, and I'm now using this placket on all of my cardigans. Of course, I used this as an excuse to splurge on vintage buttons.  I love buttons, and I was tickled to have a reason to buy more of them.  Sweater Number 7 is in marsala burgundy, hot pink, gray and brown, size medium with woven leather buttons.  It has two pockets and is super snuggly.

This is a photo of some of the pieces before I assembled them, mostly wool with a bit of cashmere.
This is some detail on a matching cotton skirt that you can see peeking out of the bottom.
I made Sweater Number 7 as a commission for a friend, not realizing that she's actually much broader than I am.  Although it fits me perfectly, sadly, it's too small for her.  Before we found that it doesn't fit her, she asked me to cut off the point of the hood.  Here you can see the difference that a pointed hood makes versus a rounded hood.  I thought I was in completely in love with pointed hoods until I cut off the point.  Now, I think I actually might prefer the rounded hood.  One thing I wasn't expecting when I cut off the point is how much it changes the shape of the collar around the neckline.  The very first sweater hoodie I made, I kept for myself, and it has a pointed hood.  I find the point kind of gets in the way.  I think from now on, I'll make most of my hoodies with rounded hoods.
Sweater Number 8 is in aqua blues, size small.  This one is quite elvish with a pointed hood and a long pointed pocket. It's about two-thirds wool and one third cashmere with green vintage plastic buttons.
Sweater Number 9 is in purple, blue, gray and olive, size medium.  It has a stripe up the back in purples and a pocket on the front. It's mostly wool with a bit of cashmere and vintage purple plastic buttons. 
These pieces are all for sale at Isabella Boutique in downtown Sunnyvale, CA.  Many of the techniques I used I learned from the ever-talented Katwise.  Thanks for looking.

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), 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.
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.   You can also see an even bigger and more detailed T4 bacteriophage in beads.  They are great gifts for the biologist 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!
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