You may not have heard of L2 Studios beads yet. They are a really exciting new venture led by two Slovakian ladies. If you enjoy bead embroidery, or if you like beading around Cabochons, then you will want to read this!
I am going to be sharing the story of how I have come to know these incredibly talented makers. This is leading to a fruitful (no pun intended!) collaboration between us, resulting in some exciting new patterns and plans. L2 Studios are also looking for more designers to collaborate, so I’ll let you know how you can get involved.
L2 Studios Beads and Me!
The first I heard about L2 Studios beads was from a beading friend, Erika Sandor. She is a fellow Beadsmith Inspiration Squad member and also creates wonderful designs for me for the magazine. Erika is originally from Slovakia. L2 Studios, or more precisely, Lenka and Lacka, the ladies behind the company, are also Slovakian. (Technically, they are known simply as L2 Studios, but there is also an architectural firm by the same name, so if you are googling them, add the ‘beads’ to be sure you find what you want!)
Erika had suggested that I might like to interview Lenka for an article in the magazine. After taking a look at the absolutely stunning Cabochons from L2 Studios, I knew that a lot more people would be interested in this. So, to cut a long story short, I set up the interview and we published the article in issue 77 of Bead and Jewellery Magazine.
I will let you go and enjoy the ladies’ own website here. The main points of my story are that I found Lenka and Lacka to be bubbling over with passion for beads. They come from different backgrounds and, as a result, the Studios offer more than just beads. For me, what makes them stand out is both the passion I saw so clearly and the quality of their work.
Their Cabochons are beautiful, top quality and innovative. So is their packaging, and the entire business has so much careful thought behind it. When I tell you that, after the interview, Lenka suggested a collaboration between us, I’m sure you’ll see why I jumped at the chance!
The Start of a Fruitful Project
In the next step, Lenka sent me a link to L2 Studios Beads shop on Etsy. She asked me to look around and tell her what I liked so she could send some samples. What a wonderful opportunity and such a kind gesture!
Now, I have to confess, this made me slightly nervous. I couldn’t help but put myself in their shoes. What if I inadvertently (or even, deliberately) picked the most expensive items? How many should I be choosing? So, part of me felt I didn’t want to ‘take advantage’ of such wonderful kindness.
Then, there is the child in me that likes surprises. There is also the part of me that, when confronted with too many ‘sweeties’ doesn’t know which to choose!
So, all of these forces combined in me and resulted in my reply to Lenka. This went something along the lines of ‘how about you choose some for me? I like working with Cabochons and I like bright colours.’ As I saw it, that way I would get my surprise, I managed to dodge the difficulty of choosing. Most importantly, I hoped Lenka would pick the products that they wanted to promote. So, whatever I ended up creating, I wanted to help L2 Studios in the process.
A Surprise Package
A few days later, I received a surprise package in the post. And, oh what a beautiful package it was! It’s always lovely to open a new stash of beads, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much thought and effort put into packaging for beads before.
Having done the interview, I already knew about the painstaking design process that has gone into each of the L2 Studios beads. I had been given the chance to see prototype sketches and had heard about the process. These particular beads were Ceramic Cabochons. I had also learned that it is really tricky working with this material: things can go horribly wrong in the firing process! So, we aren’t talking mass-produced Cabochons here. These are simply stunning. As with any bead, photos don’t really do them justice. You need to be able to hold them to feel the solidity and appreciate the craftsmanship.
But, hang on, I’m getting ahead of myself here! The outer postal box was so beautifully packed, so these little beauties were protected in their travels. Then, inside, each little Cabochon has its own special little casing. I happen to know that the casings are also custom-made and designed by Lenka and Lacka. Again, I had seen sketches in the magazine interview, but they don’t do justice to the clever little packages.
It was like Christmas all over again, unwrapping these! So, now for the test…what to do with them?
That Fruitful Idea
If you know anything about my beading and my design process, what I am about to describe will come as no surprise! First, I have to confess that I feel a lot of pressure when it comes to designing with gifted products. I feel I have a duty to do my best to show the products in a way that will make people want to buy them. Of course, I’m doing that all the time with my own books and patterns. But when it’s just for me, if I create something rubbish, I’m the only one who suffers! When I have been asked to collaborate, I feel that I need to justify that. Whether or not I have done so, I will leave you to judge! I just hope L2 Studios Beads are pleased…
So, I opened my beautiful package and the first bead I pulled out was a red Sashiko cabochon. You can buy your own here (and feel free to click that link – it will open in a new tab so you don’t lose your place here). I can’t possibly explain this, but the first thing I thought when I saw this was, ‘strawberry’. Obviously the colour is right, but I also felt that the markings were just like the texture of a strawberry.
Clearly, the round shape isn’t right, but with my experience of Peyote stitch and geometric beading techniques, I could turn a circle into a strawberry shape with no problem!
Working with my Cabochon
I must confess that I have beaded around a fair few Cabochons in my time, so I think I can claim some sort of expertise there. For my strawberry, I used a technique that I had developed before I wrote my beaded cabochons book. I have to say, first off, this Cabochon was such a joy to use. It has a little ridge around the edge which is perfect for the bead casing. So I ended up with a really firm fit and still the whole cabochon was on display.
If you have tried my method of encasing cabochons, you will know that the casing leaves the back open as well. In this case, it enables me to show the L2 Studios Bead logo stamped on the back. If you are thinking of selling your work, then this is evidence that the materials are top quality.
Having encased the cabochon, I then simply shaped the edge to create my strawberry. In a final touch, I added leaves that also formed the bail. So, I hope you like it!
What will you do next?
If I have whetted your appetite to try making a Cabochon of your own, here’s what you can do now.
Firstly, you can find all the L2 Studios Beads here, so pick out something you like.
Secondly, if you need to learn how to create a beaded casing for a Cabochon, you can get my book here.
Thirdly, if you want to make my strawberry, you can buy the pattern here. Then, follow the links above to get the red Sashiko Cabochon from Lenka and Lacka.
Fourthly, look out for more patterns from me – I have another 7 Cabochons to play with! Plus, L2 Studios have some great discount coupons in their store, so keep an eye out for those.
I hope this has inspired you and I hope you will get your own little gift from the lovely ladies in Slovakia. If you want to leave feedback for them in the comments here, I’ll pass it on. Or why not contact them direct through their website? If you’ve got any ideas for me to try with my other Cabochons, then leave a comment!…and if you follow this blog, I’ll let you know when I have some more Cabochon patterns completed. Happy beading!