Monday, 17 October 2011

This Sunday Spinsters Emporium & Merrimaking are hosting The Craft Off! A night of competitive crafting with live music, drinking and dancing! The theme is Jungle so think rain forests, giant snakes, birds of paradise, tigers, man eating flowers, sunshine gods, totem poles, tarzan, monkeys.....

All craft materials are provided and no skills necessary, just your imagination and team spirit! There are a lot of awesome prizes up for grabs including Spinsters Emporium goodies, Merrimaking hoods, homebaked cakes and club night tickets!

So what more could you want? Get yourselves to the Malt Cross this Sunday for 7pm (or earlier to get the best seats!) and join in the fun!

Tickets are £5 for folk, or £4 with student card and you can buy them online either from Spinsters Emporium or Merrimaking.

To keep upto date with The Craft Off you can also join the facebook group!


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Felt Beads

Felt Beads
When most people think of felting, it conjures up soggy and soapy images and a long wet process, before you get your finished product. It certainly put me off making felt beads on a regular basis. However after picking up a rather useful book in a second hand book shop all about felting I was inspired, the book talked about the different methods and processes & one thing that stood out to me was DRY (or needle) felting – no more getting soggy & pruny fingers!

This wonderful process is regularly used to add detail to larger wet felted items, such as flower detail on to a bag or eyes and facial features on to felted toys. Reading on, I wondered whether this process could be adapted for felt bead making. The best way I thought to find that out was giving it a go & IT WORKED! Admittedly the first few beads I made were vastly different sizes, but practice makes perfect & I cracked it! Here are some basic steps for making felt beads & some useful tips...

Stuff you need
Natural fiber (Merino roving is ideal)
Felting needle (very sharp – be careful)
Foam pad (thick upholstery foam is perfect)
A sharp metal skewer (or a knitting needle –for making a hole)

1. Pull out small chunks of fiber from the end of larger batch. Create several small piles all of a similar size (this helps to ensure your beads will all be approximately the same size! If you want to be really precise, you can weigh the fiber, 1g-1.5g is ideal.)

2. Pick up a length of your fiber and roll it up tightly in your fingers, creating a compact roll, keep hold of it firmly. Use further bits of fiber to wrap around the rolled up piece in opposite directions.

3. Once the bead is approximately the size you want (or a little larger, as it will shrink slightly), start felting; place your bead on a foam pad (I’ve used upholstery foam), gradually start working all over the surface of the bead with a felting needle, short repetitive stabbing action is the best way to get started.

Take extra care not to stab your fingers. The best way to avoid this is by holding the bead carefully at the edges & only stabbing the bead in the centre, away from your fingers - but keep moving the bead around to ensure you felt the whole bead evenly. Unfortunately it does seem inevitable that you will prick your finger (I seem to prick my finger every other bead I make - it’ll make you jump, but it’s not too bad).

4. Continue felting your bead until it is round and starting to feel compact. Roll the bead in your hands, this will help eliminate the holes created by the needle and also highlight any areas of loose fibers that may need more work.

5. Once your bead is nice and firm and you are happy with the way your bead looks make a hole through the centre with a metal skewer.

Your beads are ready to be used in any way you choose. I like to make long necklaces on cord, with spaced out beads, kept in place by a small knot either side.
Thanks for reading, Steph.

(Steph has designed a beginners felt bead kit around these instructions - available here)

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Polymer Clay Tutorial - Spiral Cane

We’re excited to be stocking a new range of Premo! polymer clay, therefore we thought we’d show you how to make a basic cane which can be sliced in order to decorate beads. The spiral cane is a simple cane that is ideal for beginners and for this you will need the following materials:

Tissue blades
2 packs of Sculpey/Premo! clay in contrasting colours
Acrylic Rolling Pin

1. Always condition the clay well before use, this ensures that it is soft and not too brittle, making it easier to work with. Do this by working the clay in your hands; the warmth of your hands combined with rolling and folding makes it much more pliable. Roll out two sheets of clay approximately 1-2mm thick. It helps if these are rolled so that the sheets are long and narrow and each should be rolled to approximately the same size.

2. Place one sheet on top of the other and gently roll over to remove any trapped air and ensure that the two sheets are adhered together.

3. Before you begin rolling cut one edge straight and trim down the sides slightly if needed. Roll tightly to avoid trapping any air.

4. Continue rolling, keeping the edges straight. Just before you roll the last part cut the edge straight. Use your fingers and gently roll to make the seam more secure.

5. Roll the cane upon the work surface to reduce it down, always keep your hands moving along the length to keep it the same diameter.

6. Once you are happy with the size you can begin slicing. It’s often a good idea to cut your cane in half so that you can reduce one half smaller than the other.

7. To slice the cane ready for applying to your beads it is best to allow the cane to cool slightly. You can speed this up by placing your cane in the fridge/freezer for a short period. The thinner the slice the better the result as the clay will spread less when being applied to your bead. As you cut each slice rotate your cane slightly to prevent distortion.

8. Make a round bead by rolling a piece of clay between the palms of your hand in a circular motion. To make sure each bead is an equal size you can roll out a larger sheet of clay and use the same size cutter for each bead or roll a log and cut equal lengths each time.

9. Now you’re ready to apply the slices to your bead, simply cover it with as many slices as you need. Press each slice very gently to make it stick. Roll in your palms until there are no more ridges along the cane edges. Allow to settle for a short time before piercing to make a hole.

10. The beads are now ready to bake, following the manufacturer's instructions!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Craft Fair Tips and Advice!

Here at the beadshop, we have had more and more customers ask us for advice on craft fairs, so we have put our heads together to think of our top tips and advice for those just starting out or thinking about taking part in a fair. Craft fairs are an awesome way to get feedback about your work, meet fellow crafters and become part of an ever growing community. It is also a good way to help fund your hobby!

Before booking a craft fair, do some research! The best way to do this is visit local craft fairs, especially if they are run by the same organization that you hope to work with. Not only will you get a feel for the range of work shown, but you can also see the people it attracts which will help you when it comes to deciding what stock to bring. It is always helpful to ask questions! Most stall holders will be more than happy to chat to you about their experiences within craft fairs!

Once you have decided on the right fair for you, there are several things to look into to make the most of your space;

one - Check how much space you will be allocated and what is included in the price you are paying for a stall. Sometimes tables and chairs are an added extra so a couple of camping chairs are a good investment as standing up all day can be quite tiring! Once you know the dimensions of your space you can start to plan. Have a practice run beforehand and photograph your layout as a reference on the day.

two - Some venues will provide covers for tables but some will not, so it’s worth taking your own. Neutral will always be best to show off your designs. Avoid anything with too much of a pattern as this can detract from your work. There is a reason you see a lot of velvet and crushed velvet on tables at craft fairs, it doesn’t crease and has a great non-slip property!

three - Professional display stands can be quite expensive so think creatively. Vases, tiles, mug trees and even branches can all work well to show off your pieces. Just placing your pieces on a flat table top doesn’t make the most of your space and isn’t very inspiring so ‘build’ height into your layout try putting upturned boxed under the cloth to add different layers.

four - Take a mirror along as people will appreciate being able to see what suits them.

five - Price everything clearly. Not everyone likes to ask, and if you are busy talking to another customer, at least people can already see prices and carry on browsing. Make sure signs are easy to read and that spelling and grammar are correct!

six - Carry a range of prices. A customer may love your products but may be on a limited budget. Jess always has badges featuring artwork starting at £1.

seven - Always take business cards and/or flyers. Often people will think ‘that would be perfect for…’ and want to buy items nearer birthdays, Christmas or other occasions.

eight - Try and take pieces to make/finish/package. Not only is it better to look busy (rather than reading a magazine etc) but it also provides a talking point to customers. We have often found that if people can see you involved with your work, they feel more inclined to start a conversation about it.

nine - Don't forget bags! Think about how customers will take away their purchases. A necklace would look more impressive in a jewellery box rather than just placed into a bag. However if you sell items already packaged then a bag would work fine.

ten - Stay positive! Although it can be disappointing if a fair is quiet, or mostly window shoppers, don't be disheartened! Keep smiling and promote a good attitude as it will attract people and give them a much nicer lasting impression!

We hope you find these tips helpful and inspiring! If you have any suggestions on other topics you would like to see us cover, then please let us know!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Lincoln Bead Fair

Last Sunday, Jess, Dave and Richard packed up the van and travelled to Lincoln to take part in the Lincoln Bead Fair. Although not as busy as expected, there were a fair amount of visitors which included brand new beaders and familiar faces! Due to the lovely weather, I think most people were tempted by picnics and days out, plus the Waddington Air Show was also on that weekend.

Our next bead fair is 11th September at Best Western Stoke-on-Trent Moat House Hotel, and you can see all the bead fairs that we are attending here.

Most excitingly this November sees the return of The Nottingham Bead & Craft Show! The show will include many traders selling beading supplies, yarn and felting materials. Local artists/crafters/jewellery makers will be supplying gifts and handmade crafts just in time for those unique stocking fillers for Christmas.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Royal Wedding Fever!

As the royal wedding takes over almost everything and everywhere, we are no different. It’s been a great excuse to have a patriotic, English garden themed window display in the shop & have a go at creating some Union Jack inspired beading.

Everywhere you look you can’t help but see Union Jacks and bunting, there have been some brilliant displays and photos that have caught my eye including this image I saw on my lunch in the Metro newspaper – Regent Street lined with Union Jacks in preparation for the big day; not only is it patriotic but it also has a touch of grey mist which just adds to the Britishness of the whole anticipated occasion.

We have fully got into the spirit of the event and created our own British Royal Wedding display, we love all things tea & cake related at The Bead Shop so had to add a cake stand too.

I have taken inspiration from the abundance of Union Jacks around and created a miniature beaded flag, it really is quite dinky and could be used in a number of creative ways.

I have used a basic square stitch to weave this small Union Jack with size 11 Miyuki delicas to give it a neat finish.
Here’s a list of ingredients;
size 11 Miyuki delicas DB200 opaque white
size 11 Miyuki delicas DB723 opaque dark cranberry
size 11 Miyuki delicas DB726 opaque dark blue

I used 0.15mm Wildfire in frost, but any beading thread you are happy using is fine with a size 10 beading needle.
Follow the steps, carefully watching for colour changes on the chart.

Step 1.Cut a manageable length of thread, add the first row of bead using a needle following the chart. Add the first bead of the next row and anchor through the last bead of first row, in a loop.

Step2. Thread back though the first bead on the second row and pull your thread tight, and thread on the second bead of the second row.

Step 3. Secure this bead by looping through the second to last bead of the first row and back through the new bead again. Keep your tension tight all the time.

Step 4. Carry on adding beads to the second row in the same way, anchoring the beads to the corresponding bead in the first row. Start the third row and continue in the same way. If you need to add any more thread, weave the end of your thread back and forth through a few rows & cut off the excess then add a new piece, securing in the same way, weaving through a few rows.

Step 5. Once you have completed the Union Jack, weave the ends of the thread back through 2 or 3 rows before trimming off any excess.

Step 6. Your Union Jack is complete and ready to use however you choose.

You could turn your Union Jack into many items including a small decorative flag with the addition of some wire, or why not create a loop with extra beads to hang on a keyring, or go all extravagant and create your very own fascinator to wear on the day.Happy beading!
Steph x

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Springtime treats!

Awww, the weather is slowly getting nicer, which means The Bead Shop is full of excitement for spring and easter (yey for chocolate!)!

First of all we have this delightful WHiTe BiRd CaGe NeCkLaCE by Josephines, the colour scheme is dreamy and has a lovely vintage feel!

Josephines have both a folksy shop and blog!

Jil makes adorable items by printing on fabric! This rabbit brooch would look awesome all the year round...a rabbit is for life, not just for easter! ;)

You can find more of her work in her folksy shop, or catch up on her blog!

Heroine Industries have created this bright and cheerful Super Kitsch and Cute Bunny Cameo Necklace, perfect for adding colour and cuteness to your outfit!

You can find lots of kitsch treats in their shop and blog!

Lupin Handmade have this gorgeous Lilac Flower, felt headband for sale! The turquoise detail really pops against the lilac felt! This would be perfect garden party/picnic wear!

Find this and other treats in their shop and her blog is a lovely read, including book reviews and tutorials!