Welcome to this special gallery area devoted to the designs I have created as a member of the Beadsmith Inspiration Squad.
What is the Beadsmith Inspiration Squad?
For those of you who don’t know, the Beadsmith is a worldwide wholesaler of beading supplies. The range of supplies they offer covers beads, stringing materials, tools, books and just about anything you might want to work with beads and related material. As a wholesaler, they sell directly to shops rather than individuals. You may have noticed materials in your local beading shop with the Beadsmith logo. Well, now you know what it means!
A wholesaler occupies a business space between manufacturers and shops, so if a company manufactures a new product, the quickest and easiest way to get it to the market is to use another single company who can distribute it to a whole range of different shops. This saves the manufacturer from dealing with the complications of selling direct to thousands of shops and in return, the wholesaler will take a small cut of the retail price of the products. Wholesalers may have all the contacts and great relationships with shops, but how do they go about persuading those shops to stock a new product? Well, that’s where the Inspiration Squad starts to come in.
Manufacturers have been working with designers to produce so many new shapes of seed beads in recent years. This is all very well, but a large percentage of the world’s beading population may like to work with beads, but they may not necessarily be interested in designing with them. Think about it from the customer’s point of view: you walk into a bead shop and see a display with a new type of bead that you’ve never seen before. You might look at it and think how pretty or interesting it is, but most likely your next question is, what do I use it for? If you’re trying to spend your money wisely, why would you take a risk on a new bead that you’re not sure how to use when you can buy an old and trusted friend that you’ve used many, many times before? Well, the answer is, you need a pattern in order to give you a reason to buy that new bead. A pattern means that someone else has taken the risk of working out how to use the new bead and you can see that what you are buying is going to be something that you want. A lot of bead shop owners are capable of designing projects, but not all will fall into this category. Those that do will probably not have the time to create enough new designs to showcase all these new beads.
So, the Beadsmith has got together a group of designers and called upon them to work with the beads in order to create designs that can be made available exclusively to the shops who purchase these beads from the Beadsmith. This means the shop is getting a reason to give their customers to persuade them to try a new type of bead. The designers are sent packs of beads that the Beadsmith wants to promote, they get to create stuff, the patterns they create are then available exclusively through the Beadsmith, via the shops selling the beads and the customers then have a reason to try some new bead types. Basically everyone is a winner!
I am incredibly honoured to have been invited to become part of this amazing group. Not only are the designers an incredibly talented bunch (as you can see in the Inspiration Squad page), they are also a lovely group of people with whom to work. It’s a great experience to be able to share all our design adventures and get feedback on projects.
From my point of view as a designer, there really is little that is more thrilling than receiving a surprise pack of new materials to play with. I have to provide the Beadsmith with two exclusive designs per year, but I can make additional designs to market and sell myself. It’s great fun for me and I like to think that I’m also doing a great service in promoting new beads as well! So, on this gallery page, you can find photos of some of the designs I have created so far with Beadsmith products, along with links to find the actual patterns if you would like to try them. Enjoy!
My Beadsmith Inspiration Squad Gallery
The photos in the section above are all made using Quadra Tiles. Top is my Quadra Tile Flowers necklace, then you have a Quadratiles Pendant that I made as an emergency project to go with an outfit! I liked this design so much that I developed it a little further to create a necklace. In both the pendant and necklace, I also included another Beadsmith product: Superduos. Finally, in an effort to explore embellishment and also incorporate some really traditional bead-weaving with these new beads, I created the Quadra Tiles scarf necklace.
The selection above includes several patterns made with Kheops beads. Top left is my Kheops Triangles necklace. Top centre is the kheops ring that complements this necklace. Top right is a very simple Kheops bracelet in which I started to explore how to join these new shapes. Bottom left is a Kheops Focal Necklace. In the centre bottom I used the Kheops to create an embellished edge for this pair of earrings. In the bottom right, another Kheops embellishment features in this pearl bracelet. The eagle-eyed amongst you may spot that the ring and triangle necklace also use Superduos. I used Duracoat delicas to work a couple of these projects as well. The pearls are not Beadsmith products, although the Beadsmith does sell pearls too!
Top left is a bracelet in which I combined Superduos and O beads. Top middle is an initial experiment with Infinity beads, using them to create a layered bracelet. Top right used Infinity beads and O beads to create another embellished bracelet. Bottom left: the necklace used some colour-mix tubes of Superduos, combined with Duracoat Delicas. Bottom centre is another necklace design using Kheops beads, inspired by an art deco theme. Bottom right is the bracelet that has been used by the Beadsmith as my first project for 2015. The Kheops Patchwork bracelet is available for free from all outlets that stock Beadsmith projects – it was the featured project for the week commencing 21st September 2015, so make sure to ask your local bead shop for your copy!
The projects above are made with the beads from my first bead pack. This included Petal beads, lentil beads, Rullas, Silky beads, Pellet beads, Superduos, glass cabochons and Miyuki seed beads. Moving from top left to bottom right you can see the floral pendant, two views of a Silky bead cuff bracelet, Cabochon earrings, triangles necklace and triangle earrings.
My ‘Rulla Waves’ bracelet is the featured project from 28th October 2015. This will be a shop exclusive and is available through Beadsmith stockists when you make a Beadsmith product purchase. So if you want to give the pattern a try – it uses Rulla beads and Pellet beads and is worked in basic circular brick stitch – then go and check your local bead shop for the pattern.
My second pack of Beadsmith goodies contained some Honeycomb beads. I’ve long been admiring the look of these in work by other squaddies, so I was thrilled to finally get the chance to play with them. Oddly enough though, I found the design process harder than I had expected. I adored the beads, but I kept finding that the ideas I was sketching on paper were a struggle to recreate in the beads as I tried to work out thread paths. So I ended up going back to basics and playing with shaping to create the focal honeycomb necklace. Then with Peyote stitch to make the Daisy Honeycomb bracelet and finally I found I had become sufficiently used to the beads to actually manage to turn a sketched idea into reality with the Honeycomb flower bracelet…and I think this is one of my current favourite pieces of jewellery to wear!
Moving on to the next bead type with which I have experimented: Chilli beads. Rather than repeat myself here, you can find a blog post all about these beads if you are interested in finding out more. This will give you some more insights into my design process. Here I want to share with you a little gallery of the resulting designs so far! I was immediately inspired to make flowers, so my first project was the Flower Pendant, swiftly followed by the Floral Necklace design. I have more ideas to play with on this theme, but decided that I should first try using the Chilli beads with traditional bead-weaving techniques. So my textured bracelet emerged from an experiment with Peyote stitch, while the Waterlily bracelet came about as I started to think along the lines of CRAW thread paths. Keep looking out for more new patterns using Chilli Beads as I continue to play with this fascinating bead type.