Sunday 8 April 2012

Another year, another life!

I was going to keep my birthday quiet, well, at 59 the only positive thing is that you're knocking on the door of 60! It's one of those 'nothing' birthdays, like 15, and 37, no tangible reason to celebrate. 
So while I was bad mouthing my little sister this morning for not sending me one of her amazingly good home made cards, I got an e mail, from her - please don't let it be a bloody e card I thought, she wouldn't inflict that on me! It was a sort of e card, but it was also one of the most thought out cards I have ever had - so here it is, and I am happy again! (did I mention she used to work on a newspaper?)

Monday 2 April 2012

Change of Scenery

It may be a while before I have anything new to show you. This is for a couple of reasons, the main one being that I feel the 'sparkly' period has served it's time, and so I have to reinvent. The second is that I am going to concentrate on making up some tutorials worth selling, and to do that I have to go into 'admin mode' - beading will always stop you typing and drawing diagrams if you let it, so the beads can take second spot for now!
I do, however, have some ideas for the new beader me which will, if I get it right, knock your socks off! Watch this page.................but not for a while eh? :)

  William Henry Davies

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Finished work for sale!

I have uploaded some finished work to my website on the 'For Sale' page! Most of it has been described here or on Facebook, but if you would like to know more about a piece then please e mail me. Here's the link

Friday 9 March 2012

'Alex' - a lesson in not throwing stuff away!

I have a drawer marked 'Misc Project Beads', and it is one of the most underused drawers I have - and I have 30. When I mess about trying to see if a design works, I make a lot of bits - bezelled rivolis, Russian leaves, toggles and loops etc. - and only use half of them. The rest end up in the 'misc' drawer for use at a later date. Now, this sounds very laudable, but in reality what it actually means is that I forget they're there, so they are, in effect, lost. 
I have been meaning to make something with Russian leaves for ages, but it was only when clearing the drawer out that I realised how many I had! Joy of joys.............there was also a squivoli of the same colour! So 'Alex' (short for Alexandria) was born. I hope you like her...............

Tuesday 6 March 2012

'Zoe12' - a lesson in reincarnation.

A few years ago I made a necklace - 'Zoe' - and it was a nice necklace. I even taught her as a workshop a few times. As my beading progressed however, a few niggly bits started to become apparent, the two bails worked towards the centre so the pendant didn't sit right, the toggle and loop clasp wasn't as strong as I would have liked it, and the russian leaves wouldn't stay facing forward. So when I was asked about using her for a project I was dubious as to whether this was a representation of my work at present, so I made another. This is 'Zoe12' - the colours are brighter, the toggle & loop is stronger, and the pendant hangs properly (although that was a problem yesterday!).
I like her, Nina likes her, I hope you do too. Here she is compared with the original............


The Original 'Zoe'

Friday 2 March 2012

In case you were wondering..........................

.............I'm OK. The 5th of March will be 6 months since I had the oesophagectomy, and, apart from a few little niggles, it seems to have worked. I still have a broken rib, and I still have to sleep sitting up, but it beats the hell out of the alternative, so I have learned to keep complaints to a minimum!
I hope if anything good were to come out of this, that it will encourage other men (who are notoriously difficult to get to the doctor) to recognise little symptoms and get checked out early. Oesophageal cancer is a killer, mainly because in most cases it's diagnosed too late - I was caught early, and have survived because of that. Most cancers, if caught early enough, are treatable.
On a lighter note, I am in the process of making a revamped version of 'Zoe', which will look stunning when she's finished, so there's another for the workshop pot!
Here's the old 'Zoe'........................the new one is chartreuse and gold, with chrysolite crystals!

Sunday 26 February 2012


'Praxitella' is a painting by Percy Wyndham-Lewis, and is hung in Leeds City Art Gallery. I have seen her numerous times, and every time I do I fall in love with her all over again. She was Iris Barry - the Curator of Film at MOMA in New York - when Wyndham-Lewis knew (loved) her, but I am happy to settle for the painting.
The lovely Kandra Norsigian sent me half a dozen Labradorite cabs a few weeks ago, and the only thing I could think of whilst looking at them was 'Praxitella' - this is the easiest piece I have ever named! 
Here's the painting, and my interpretation of it......................

Friday 24 February 2012

The far..................

Well. That's it for a few months or so. I have nothing left to sell in my Etsy shop, and will be getting down to actually making some designs! I have the problem when it comes to tutorials of not being able to release them until at least 6 months after the workshop - it wouldn't be fair on people who had paid for the workshop - so they won't be coming thick & fast!
The Hamburg workshops are all sorted, and I have two private workshops this year, but the main thing is trying to get four decent projects finished for Stitchncraft in 2013 - the ideas have to be in by August this year!
In the midst of this we have nearly finished building and decorating the last room in a 17 year renovation project, I have hospital appointments to let them tell me how well I've recovered, the garden needs a flamethrower over it, and Freya needs her jabs!
I'll let you know how all that goes.....................

Thursday 16 February 2012

All change at Etsy!

In 7 days - midnight GMT on the 23rd Feb -I will be closing my Etsy shop for a few months or more. This is a. because I need to concentrate on getting my workshops organised, and b. because nothing is selling anymore! If you don't keep adding stuff on Etsy the shop sinks to the bottom of their marketing pile, not a situation I'm happy with. It's all very flattering having people 'favorite' my work, but that's not paying for petrol!
So. If you want any tutorials now's the time to get them because I'm not planning to sell anywhere else other than at workshops and the Hamburg Bead fair!

Friday 10 February 2012

Beauty & that order

Hoping that you may have forgotten by now about my hospital induced ramblings from September, I shall reveal another hospital based rambling which I have been saving for the right time. Or any time I can't come up with anything better to write about. It was really important to me at the time, so it has to be aired. I discovered,whilst I was squandering my days away in hospital, that the only things worth a light in life were Beauty and Art. I also realised that the variations in each of these muses were as important as the subject, so here's my take on two of the most debatable subjects in life -

1. Perfect beauty - technically and aesthetically perfect to the last detail.
2. Natural beauty - sunsets, mountains, seascapes, swans, dolphins, ad infinitum.
3. Fashioned beauty - usually man attempting (and sometimes succeeding) to replicate natural beauty!
4. Imagined beauty - generally that which is in the eye of the beholder. Just as important and real as perfect beauty to the beholder.
5. Perceived beauty - exactly the same as imagined beauty, but different.
6. Broken beauty - The attraction of physical or natural disfigurement, and the ability to see through the mist of prejudice.
7. Tragic beauty - Juliette, Ophelia, Desdemona, Maria Callas, the love of someone or something purely out of a need to nurture and protect.
8. Anti beauty - anything, movement, or doctrine which tries to remove 'normal' ideas of beauty from the equation. Constructivism, cubism, Shock Art, etc. still has a beauty of it's own.
That's the 'Beauty' bit over - now for the Art bit!

WHAT IS ART - to me?

Colours in harmony with each other
Shapes playing together
Words & language
Painting with words
Music which strives to please
Fashion other than fashion for fashion's sake
Love - of any description
A way of seeing Life
A way of living Life

See? It all comes back to the same thing? Clever huh? If you don't find something Beautiful - look again, you might be missing something.

Wednesday 8 February 2012


This will be one of my 2013 workshops - in some guise, I may make another before then!

Friday 3 February 2012

Hamburg Bead Fair courses published!

Courses at the Beader's Best Hamburg Bead Fair in August are now published - mine are 'Melissa', 'Tanya', and 'Beate'. Click on the blue letters for the link!
Here's pictures.........................




Wednesday 1 February 2012


Every time I try to make something looking Victorian I have finished up with a design closer to Imperial Russian, I suppose there is a link there in the royal lineage. This one, however, is 100% Victorian! I think I may have actually got it right! The crystals are vintage 'Fuchsia', so won't be repeated, and the rest of the beads are all from Kandra's Beads in Solvang, California.
Here she is...........................

Monday 23 January 2012

My input on an emotive subject.

In October 2010 I had a necklace project published in 'Beadwork' magazine - 'Sonya' if you want to look it up. Shortly after it was published I was sent a link by a fellow beader to a Korean sales site, the whole project was being sold for peanuts - photographs and diagrams copied directly from the magazine, and the finished necklace they had used as a project image looked as if a blind six year old had made it! It hurt more than I thought it would have, and it took a letter from 'Beadwork' to finally get them to pull it from sale. It actually felt as if I had been burgled, any love I had for that particular necklace disappeared shortly afterwards.
I realised then that the only way to beat the design thieves was to either make something so technically challenging it wasn't worth them trying to copy it, or to just suck it up and get on with the next design. I did both. 
The beading community has become paranoid about copying, admittedly with good reason, but while we are squabbling about who owns what and who stole what, the Chinese and the Koreans are quietly copying and selling everything we make - and there are so many sites selling this that you will never get 'em all!
I sympathise - no, I empathise - with those of you who feel you have had your hours of work stolen by a passing opportunist, but I also believe that getting engrossed in a battle with a fellow beader really isn't worth it. Move on and suck it up, remember the incident by all means, but don't let it ruin your Art. I would have to look up the last design I did, because I am making another, and the only thing that's important is the now, if anyone wants to copy the past I cannot stop them - I can shout and sabre wave, but I can't stop them. 
As beadworkers we are a very incestuous group, we all know one another's work, and we can look out for each other, but we don't have to like every one of our contemporaries - and we certainly don't have to trust them, most of whom are only known through the medium of the internet. When you make a design that is able to be copied then expect it to be copied, it will happen, and there ain't nuthin' you can do about it!
I shall now go back to trying to design a stealth necklace that nobody can see on the beading radar.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Hello New Year!

I know it's eleven days past new year, but I had to make sure it was going the way I wanted it to. Spring has come early this year - I knew it would - and the feeling of optimism and freedom I have right now is more than I've had for a long time!
In hindsight, which we all know is a wonderful thing, I think I must have been very bored and jaded with life prior to the cancer thing. That isn't to say I wake up every morning with a song in my heart - although there really is one in my head most mornings - I wake up as miserable and cantankerous as I ever did, only Freya will dare to speak to me before coffee. No, I now have a sense of 'purpose', a much used cliche, but it does happen. 
Although it's only January, I am working towards the Hamburg Bead Fair in August - this is my one chance to shine in the midst of international beaders................and I have no intention of screwing it up through lack of preparation. On my beading mat at the moment is one of the most beautiful stitches I have ever done, and I have a feeling it may be a variation only I have done, this will not be aired until next year though - I need at least four original designs for 2013's workshop schedule!
On a personal front, Nina has had her staples out after her gallbladder removal, and is slowly getting better, I have had my central line (which has been hanging out of me for 3 months) removed, the last room to be renovated in this old house is taking shape and we should be able to have next Christmas in it, all in all a lot of good reasons to get up in the morning!
'In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love', said Shakespeare - 'In the spring an old man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of home improvement', is closer to the truth, said me.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

The 'Process'

I thought it would be cool to give you some idea of what goes into a beaded necklace design from my side of the fence. I'm not using this to crow about how much work there is in it, or how brilliant I am (though I can be at times), I just wanted to open up the design process to you and see if there are any surprises!
OK, so, first I have a sketch & doodle session in my 'art' book. This leaves me with lots of completely unworkable ideas, and the plan is that in the midst of all these is one workable idea for a design. Remember this is just on paper though, I have to see if I can get the materials to go with the idea, and at this stage there is no colour - it's all pencil and white shapes.
When I decide that this is something I can work with, I need a 'central piece' - this is usually a larger than normal crystal. From here I'm going to let you into the working behind 'Persephone', then you can see where I'm going with it! So, I decide I want to build around a large pear shaped crystal, this is really as far as I've got at this stage, I really don't know what will work with it - the original design for Persephone was a pear crystal with five navettes hanging down like leaves, it didn't work! I order the crystal in a colour that hits me while browsing the supplier's website, everything will hang on what I can do with this when I get it.
A week later and I have a gorgeous 'Montana' pear crystal on my desk. I arrange the navettes to the original 'leafy' design. It's rubbish. Far too heavy on the drop, so I need to play around now with all the crystals I have in my stash to make shapes that work. Shapes first, then colour. The idea of not being able to make the design never comes into my head - if I can imagine it, I can make it. My head is aware of where my limitations lie.
After three days of changing navettes round, adding rivolis of varying sizes, and listening to Nina's advice, I have a design. I photograph it quickly so I don't forget what I did. Now comes the hard bit - colours.
While all this is going on I'm waiting for a name to appear in my head, I need a name to bring it to life, none of my necklaces have been inanimate objects, they are all personalities. So now I get all my colours out that either compliment or blend with the main crystal - in Persephone's case I went for the chartreuse green to signify the 'Spring' element, and the gold to compliment the chartreuse! I then picked a few other shades of green to blend, and the golden crystals of the necklace chain to depict the old brown of Winter being overshadowed by the Spring.
The rest, as they say, was easy. Just fasten all the bezelled bits together. Although weaving through delica beads which are already stretched tightly is a nightmare! If you use a strong needle you will break the glass beads, so a less expensive 'bendy' needle is needed! The score for Persephone was 17 bent beyond all recognition needles!
It all fit together, it all balanced, it sat on the neck without falling forwards or sideways, it worked. That, at this stage, is as much as I could hope for. The next stage is putting it into the public domain and seeing what other people think of it - most of them experienced beadweavers who could pick a fault at a hundred yards! Facebook first, then a blog post, then....................Etsy. This is tricky. Pick a price. If I add up the hours actually making it I get to 20 - 25. If I add on design hours I start talking about days and weeks. How do you price that? There is an adage 'sell it for what you can get', I tend to stay with that, although this is usually considerably less than it is worth - if I breakdown the $500 for Persephone into hours worked and materials used I get around $5 an hour labour. This is why you rarely see a rich Artist. 
I hope this has given you an insight into why most of us are borderline certifiable, it will be interesting to see what I come up with next - it's all a blank at the moment!

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Happy 2012!

Those of you who have been following the plot will know that the end of 2011 didn't go exactly to plan. As a matter of fact it went completely off the rails. I've had my operation, I've had my chemo, I have radiotherapy to go yet but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Nina had her gall bladder removed last Friday, so her gallstone pain should be gone now, just the post op pain to get rid of. 
This brings me to 2012 - it isn't something I would normally say, but 2012 has got to be an improvement on 2011! Nina will be better, I will be better, life will go on, and we will get back into the habit of enjoying it, rather than checking the diary to see when the next hospital appointment is due. 
We will walk along canal paths, we will take the car into the hills and watch Peregrine falcons hunting, we will walk around lakes and talk to the ducks and the swans, we will laugh at stupid things and marvel at the stars, we will start living again! The last few months haven't been 'living', they have been 'surviving', that is why 2012 is so important - it's the year we will get better, and plan for 2013.
Grab each moment as if it's your last - one day it will be.

Saturday 31 December 2011


Persephone - Goddess of Spring & the Underworld. 
This is probably my most sparkly design yet! I've had the idea for a while, but getting all the crystals to compliment each other wasn't as easy as I thought, once I decided on the chartreuse green theme throughout everything sort of came good!
I said this took 17 needles - this is because my needles of choice are the inexpensive 'Pony' needles (thanks Kandra!), and they bend rather than break. This means I rarely break a bead now, the needle gives up before the bead does, and weaving in and out of an already bezelled navette bends a lot of needles!
Anyway - here she is. I shall now try and rest this strained muscle in my shoulder!

Tuesday 20 December 2011

The Westburn Group

I was supposed to be going to Glasgow in September of this year, to teach a 2 day 'Adele' workshop to a group of beaders. I had to cancel because of this cancer thing, and cancelling workshops is not something beading tutors are happy about, so between the organiser Sheena and myself we came to an arrangement. I would send all the materials and instructions up there, and the more accomplished beaders in the group would help the less experienced to make 'Adele' - workshop by proxy!
Now, you have to remember I have never met any of these ladies, which is why, when I woke up in intensive care after my operation, the appearance of a 'get well' card signed by the whole group was all the more meaningful. The downside was that my reading glasses were locked away, and I couldn't see it properly for a week!
That, in itself, was an extremely thoughtful act by a group who didn't even know me - only exceeded by a parcel in the mail a couple of days ago. The group had made me an 'album' of photographs they had taken of the 'Adele' workshop in different stages - they also raffled the finished necklace made by Sheena in aid of their local hospice, and raised £250! 
I will be going up to Glasgow to repay the kindness as soon as I can - I really am looking forward to doing a workshop where I am actually there! Here are a few snippets from the album they made for me.........................thank you Ladies!

Saturday 17 December 2011

You're HOW old????

Isn't it amazing that as soon as the temperature drops you begin to realise how old and knackered you are? It's just started freezing here, and I can feel every scar, every break, every pulled muscle, and probably tell you where and when I got 'em! I am sitting typing with a t shirt, a thermal vest, a polo neck shirt, and a fleece jacket on - what the hell happened to me???
When you're head is 35 and your body is 75, although chronologically you are only supposed to be 58, life can get a little confusing.
Digressing, I can't even bead at the moment - because I have a little cut on the end of my third finger. This is the finger I use to push the needle through, so a minor scratch becomes a show stopper. 
Those of you who are used to my ramblings will know I don't do depression, this is why I haven't said a lot recently, I am in a state of suspension - not really knowing what I want to do next, and not really caring about what I have just done. To my friends in the virtual ether I apologise, I should answer messages on facebook, I should turn on Skype, but I have nothing positive to say, so I say nothing. 
Now, this could just be the 'end of chemo anticlimax', I have finished treatment, to all intents and purposes I no longer have cancer, and the whirlwind of the last three months has suddenly stopped. I should be celebrating, but I think I'll leave it a couple of months before I do that.
Finishing on a controversial note - our esteemed Prime Minister wants to make the UK a 'christian country''s a bit late for that pal, you should have thought about that before extending opening hours for drinking, before letting catholic priests continue abusing children, before invading Iraq, before allowing shops and stores to open on Sundays, before etc etc. It doesn't matter to me - I'm an Atheist - but even I could see when morality went out of the window.