Last time in my April diet blog (read the blog here), I promised you a donut story. So, here it is – donut storytime in beads!
Now, this is also a story about beading designs and how an idea can evolve. I hope you will enjoy reading a bit about the story behind my beaded donuts. But if you are a budding designer, I hope this will also inspire you with some helpful thoughts.
Are you sitting comfortably?… Then, let me begin.
Once upon a time, back in 2011 or so, I had an idea of making a beaded donut. It didn’t seem that big a deal. I mean, we all learn how to create circles in beads. So, how hard could it be?
Step 1 in any design is pick your technique. Peyote, brick stitch and herringbone all have circular variations. So, which one to use?
Well, I like Peyote stitch and I know it is great for structural beadwork. Of course, my donut was going to be three-dimensional. So, Peyote seemed the obvious choice.
Now, I know how to make a Peyote circle. I also know how to make a Peyote tube. So, if you think about it, the donut is really just a combination of the two.
But have you ever tried making a Peyote circle? If you have, then you may well have discovered the same thing I quickly realised. It is quite tricky to get a truly flat, even circle. You can create a ruffle if you’re not careful. Or, the basic circle has a tendency to turn into more of a hexagon with corners instead of a smooth edge…
Donut storytime…an alternative beginning
Let me go back to the origins of my Marvellous Diet – the April beadalong and the reason I decided to write this blog. If you want to know more, then refresh your memory with my original announcement here>>
This version of donut storytime begins in the Facebook group, ‘Seed Beads and More.’ Now, when Anita posted my list of ingredients for the marvellous diet, I had a lot of people asking if they could just use size 11 Delicas because they didn’t have and didn’t know where to get the size 10s.
(If you’re wondering where to get size 10s, by the way, I sell them here!)
The short answer to that question is: no!
Smoothing out the circle
Now, I won’t bore you with the many hours I spent trying various techniques to smooth out the edges of a Peyote circle. At the time, I was making jam tarts and bakewell tarts too. So, I really needed good circles to make my food look realistic.
I ended up discovering a couple of ways of making a smoother circle in Peyote. One was to move from one-drop Peyote (that’s the basic version you’re all used to, where you add one bead at a time) to two-drop peyote (same technique, but you add 2 beads in each stitch).
That idea worked well, but had some limitations. It was brilliant for smaller circles, but as soon as you got beyond a certain point, it became less practical.
If you want to find out more about that, then grab a copy of Sweet Treats book here>>
The second technique is the one I used for the donuts. It did involve some conventional increases, but I also found that switching bead sizes helped to smooth out the curve.
So, the only way I could create a decent looking donut turned out to be by using three different sizes of beads. Size 15, size 11 and size 10.
Where the donut went next…
You may think that is the end of donut storytime. Perhaps it is – after all, I had overcome my design problems and created a donut that I was happy with.
But, there’s always another chapter.
Whenever I am designing, I find there will be points in the evolution of the project that spark other ideas. So, maybe I’m partway through making something and I think, ‘hang on, that looks like…’ Wham! That’s another idea to note down and work on.
Or maybe the solution to a particular problem is also going to be the solution for something else that has been in my head.
Now, with the donut, I ended up going from sweet to savoury. As I reached the point before adding the icing and sprinkles, I realised that this donut might also be a bagel…
So, out came my smoked salmon bagel pattern, which you can find here>>
Now, it doesn’t take a genius to see that donuts and bagels look pretty much the same! But did you know the lessons I had learned for my donut also led on to my original cheeseburger pendant?
So, again, I wanted to give a smoother edge to my circle. Right, back to that idea of combining different bead sizes. That way, I ended up with a pretty round burger bun. Then, you get to play with lots of other shapes as you add the filling!
Are you curious to know more? Then grab your copy of the pattern here>>
The final donut storytime chapter (for now!)
For a few months now, I have been obsessed with beaded boxes (you probably noticed). Yes, it is a full-blown addiction that I’m not going to be losing any time soon!
So, I have a long list of brand new ideas to try. But I have also been looking back on older projects and wondering if they can be re-imagined as beaded boxes.
I did actually consider donuts (never say never, but I don’t have plans for this currently!). This led me to think about other food. So, as I was looking through my most popular food patterns, I realised my cheeseburger would work rather well.
I thought this was going to be a simple matter of just working out how to divide the pattern into a base and lid. But no! I soon realised that I needed to scale up everything to make the box a sensible size. So, in that process, I had to lose my smooth-edged design idea.
The beaded boxes really need geometric techniques to give them the sturdy structure that creates the box. So, back to the good old ‘hexagon increase cycle’ for this one. I may have ended up with a slightly hexagonal cheeseburger, but I don’t mind!
If you want to make your own box, grab the pattern here>>
What can you take from donut storytime?
I started by saying I wanted to also offer some help for anyone who is starting out in design. So, let me leave you with two thoughts to take away…
Don’t give up on an idea. It is very common for it to not work out at the first attempt. Maybe you just need to try a different technique, or some different beads. Maybe it’s something you’re going to need to come back to later on when you have new skills and different perspectives.
The point is, don’t give up! Keep trying different experiments and eventually you will find the one that works.
Yes, it is frustrating to spend hours making something and then have to rip it all out because it doesn’t look right. But I guarantee you will learn loads of lessons in the process.
This brings me neatly to my second piece of advice…
Keep a notebook to hand
While you’re trying all those experiments, a couple of things will happen. Like me, you may see other ideas emerge. So, you need to jot them down to return to later on.
Also, every experiment that goes wrong will teach you something. Maybe it’s a lesson you don’t think you need right now. But you never know when it will come in handy. So, make some notes.
Keep doing that and you won’t go far wrong. It will keep the ideas flowing and help your designs to keep evolving.
If you are interested in the design process, then you might also enjoy this website that looks at a few different aspects of beading design>>