Sunday, February 8, 2015

Beadwork Components

Something I've realized about myself in the last few years, is that I've become a component beader...out of necessity!  My normal beading process goes a bit like this:
  • Come up with an idea (shape/technique/bead combination/etc) that I want to try
  • Stitch long enough to decide I don't like it or it's not going to do what I wanted it to do
  • Put what I stitched into my massive box of Works In Progress and UnFinished Objects (henceforth abbreviated as WIP and UFO's)

This is one of those large plastic totes from the scrapbook section of the craft store - meant for holding photos or postcards in each internal box.  I love it because I can group types of UFO's on one side, and have longstanding WIP's on the other, with all of their beads and components stored together.  This means when I need to pack for a trip, I can easily grab a couple of WIP boxes, my normal stash of thread, needles, and tools, toss it all in a bag with my work tray and be ready to bead on the go!  I also bead during my lunch breaks at work, and I can keep everything for a small project in one little box.  I love it.  So just how do I work with this stash of beaded goodies?  Let me show you!

One of my favorite boxes to root around in is the box containing small components.  Each of these little pieces was an experiment of some sort that ended up not getting used in the project I intended it for.  When I discover that I've got an array of components in a similar color palette, I can collage them together into a whole new piece.  I love how this batch of beadwork falls perfectly into the same palette as these lampwork disk beads by our lovely Sue of SueBeads.  Won't this make a fun bracelet?

Awhile back, I went through a phase of gluing down cabs to ultrasuede, so that I wouldn't have to wait for glue to dry when I want to do some embroidery.  Well, the other day when I was digging through this box, I remembered this bone whale cab.  I recently watched Fantasia 2000, and marveled again how much I love the section when the whales take to the sky.  Won't this be a fun piece, with one of Sue's lampwork cabochons as a celestial body?  I can picture it with lots of swirling water and night sky bead embroidery, and fringe of droplets dripping off the bottom...

Sometimes what ends up in my UFO boxes are more conceptual pieces that just aren't working right.  I had this idea to make a mermaid's purse (skate egg case) to house one of Jen Cameron's lampwork ammonite beads.  I love how this one is almost embryonic in it's my head, herringbone was the perfect stitch to make this happen.  Unfortunately, it takes a long time to make a piece this big, and even using cheater stitches (taller stacks of beads so stitching goes faster)...I ended up losing interest.  And it's not coming out like it looks in my head.  Back to the drawing board with this one - until then, it will live in the UFO box!

Very occasionally, I make components for a specific project, and keep them together in a box until I have the urge to finish the piece.  I made these flowers to go with a different skull...but when a friend sent me this raku skull cab by Harry of OscarCrow, I knew he needed to be with these flowers in a new sugar skull necklace!  Hopefully I will finish this piece by next fall, so I can have another Halloween necklace...

The best thing about having all my beadwork components in one place, is being able to root around for inspiration when I want to work with my stash of art beads.  I've made these cool links out of Jen's fantastic lampwork/copper spiral headpins, and discovered that I love the combination of copper, aqua and the terracotta color of this Dana Swisher sunface pendant.  Well, I don't have enough headpins to make an entire one side of the necklace will be this strand of herringbone rope.  I will probably embellish two sides of it with copper beads, to add some visual heft and bring the warm colors up the other side of the necklace.  Now, how to connect the links and pendant?  Hmmm, still more to think on, so back in the box they go!

Do you keep a stash of cast offs that you can draw from when you need a dose of inspiration?  Do you have a fun storage technique for this stash?  We would love to know!


  1. I have been putting my unfinished projects in plastic baggies and I keep them in a box. Not as glamorous as your plastic cases, but I thought that was a huge improvement over leaving them in piles on my work area.

  2. I love your idea of using these small plastic containers, plus they are in nearly every craft store and with a coupon, very affordable!
    I tried to be all arty at first and was using vintage wood boxes, which looked nice, but I was forever digging to find something. Now I use large divided plastic boxes I get in the tool section of Home Depot. Nowhere near as 'where women create' pretty, but it is easier to locate components. I think I'll add in your small single project boxes for when I get a design figured out, but one I don't have time to work on. Thanks!


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