Sunday, December 19, 2021

A Wonky Christmas tree for a "crooked" Christmas

I didn't  plan on doing anything special for Christmas this year, beadywise. I had my mind focused on Octavio the Octopus, the Sunshine pendant workshop and I want to work more on my 2022 Beadworkers Guild Challenge piece. Not much progress has been made on the latter; it has been an endless tergiversation resulting in tons of beads bought that won't work (the trouble of having a specific idea in mind!). I also have a pile of Czech beads to play with... I'm busy, happily busy.

Beautiful version of Sunshine
beaded by Eileen Montgomery

But!!! I did an unexpected and totally improvised "workshop" in the  Facebook group Cellini Peyote Freaks, a group founded by me but expertly moderated / managed by Linda, Dee, Sarah, Eileen, Karyn and Coral.

Click on the image to go to the FB group

Linda asked me if I knew about the existence of a pattern for a Christmas tree design made with Cellini peyote, in particular with the "Bola method". The bola method is flat diagonal Cellini peyote. Immediately an image took shape in my head that I wanted to try to bead.

For this little green Cellini tree, I used a sequence with softly increasing sizes of Czech seed beads (11°, 10°, 9° and 8°). Below the 4 photos show it from each side.

Yes, it is a wonky tree. And the more I look at it, the more I love it. No need for perfection. We need variation.

 I tried to do a live demo on FB, but it didn't work right.

The videos with the instructions are posted in the FB Cellini peyote freaks group. I hope that you will enjoy making your version with your favorite colours and look forward to seeing it.

I also tried to use Japanese seed beads and see what I could substitute. That resulted in this pretty white wonky tree. 

And now members are testing various combos and it is really interesting to work on this together, to bead together. 

Even if far apart, we are close, we are a family. A family of beaders. 

And thanks to this experiment, I discovered that "crooked little Christmas trees are actually a thing. Charly Brown, Grinchmas and even an adorable Christmas tale all feature wonky trees. 

This is a link to a nice lecture, with beautiful
illustrations, great to watch with kids.

One thing leading to another, I had to try another snail after making my Wonky tree, of course, but it was far more complex to do than I thought and it took me quite a bit of trial and error, but I am so pleased with the result! So much better than my previous snails.
I hope to tutify this pretty "Snow Snail" next year.


During this challenging year, meeting with fellow beaders through Zoom and Facebook has helped me very much to stay positive and creative, and I hope that this is the case, somehow, for you too.

May the holidays be happy and cosy, may you stay safe, and find reasons to rejoice, even if it are only "the little things".

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.


Friday, August 6, 2021

International Beading Week 2021

By golly, what a week, my friends, what a wonderful week this has been! 

Thanks to the ever so dedicated folks of the Beadworkers Guild, we've had the most wonderful online celebration ever with beads. 

It was like a very good cuvée of champagne: great taste, festive bubbles and no headache afterwards.

 Every day a new stitch to talk about and lovely promps and quotes, meetings, a fabulous prize draw and many thing learned. It was fantastic. Even a new international common project has been launched, once more, by Sam Norgard, the "All Colors" project.

It was wonderful to Zoom-meet with people from around the globe. In particular those I've had contact with since so many years. I never dreamt that I'd see them one day in real life. Among these persons were Karen Beningfield from South Africa (beader and designer, member of and graphic illustrator for Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, who also helped me with the edition of the Diamond Weave book), Cate Venn, who is the most inspirational person & part of my "totem", and her husband Christopher Venn, who beads entire dresses in black tiny size 15° seed beads, and Nancy Jenner Kooyers, who is an incredibly talented beader who normally doesn't write patterns, but this year offered a pattern for the most adorable beaded faerie ever. If you haven't seen this tiny fairy yet, come and visit Facebook where they are popping up everywhere and are so cute!

The ambassadors and other designers gave us marvelous designs to play with. You can still download them from the Beadworkers Guild website. The patterns remain there after IBW is over. The collection of goodies is growing each year, and the contributions are amazing.

As every year, I offered a tutorial too. Two, in fact. One for the duration of the week only, to make a Gazebo Cascading tassle, and one for my Year Long Rainbow Project, which is a freeform peyote piece called Rivers of Color. 

The guide can be downloaded for free from my website. I call it a guide, because freeform creations cannot be completely copied. I think, however, that folks will have loads of fun trying this method.

Talking about the year long rainbow challenge: look at the pieces below!!! 

These are the creations of the participants who finished their project this year! I am each year amazed by how much talent there is out there, and by the variety of the pieces too.

Teresa "Keygirl" Shelton created a beautiful geometric bangle made with a clever method of her "cru": "Starts and ends with 3". She also offered her pattern to the BWG to be added to the IBW pattern page.

Diane De Gooyer made a set of bangles to have something to wear every day. Clever!

Diàna Balogh made a bangle with hundreds of little flowers, made with a gazillion little seed beads. We all want to know how she did this. Hopefull she will tell us in an upcoming Journal?

Jessica Hayman created an "eggbox" with intricate celtic knots in the most exquisite camaieu of colors of the rainbow. Mind blown!
And she donated the pattern for 1 knot to the list of IBW goodies!!

Margaret Haigh made her own necklace using the elements from the pattern "Square dance" designed by Heather Kingsley Heath - the pattern is available on the IBW pattern page of the Guild.

Caroline Lloyd created a stylish "French flowers" arrangement. It is incredible how only a few beaded leaves and flowers can become something so complete.

Nancy Deonarine beaded a collection of sparkling peyote pod ornaments - her colors match the IBW logo perfectly.

Teréz Kocsis made lovely little sparkly daisies.

Shelley Gillmann started with the yellow, orange and next colors of the IBW logo and then got so carried away that she didn't make jewelry, but 35 designs for "carrier beads", now offered as one of the IBW freebies for this year. The photo above shows 14 of them.

 Huge compliments to all!

And many thanks to all those who contributed patterns!
The next season is going to be beadybusy!

If you haven't tried yet, come and make a rainbow yourself this year! Each month a little something and at the end of the year you end up having something huge! Like this epic piece by Karan Parker from back in 2018 which I still adore.

Join the Facebook group to post your progress, find tips, or encouragement. 

Happy beading everyone!


Monday, July 19, 2021

Pick your Path - a secret Beadalong with Cliff Swain-Salomon

The past months have been very busy for me.

 I've been working on several patterns among which my brand new Lady bug, and a tassel (Gazebo, for IBW) and I still am working on on my rainbow project, for International Beading Week. I just wrote a separate article about this. I am a permanent IBW Ambassador after all.

I have also been working since quite a while on a design parallel to the mystery project for the secret beadalong with the wonderful Cliff Swain-Salomon who invited me to join him in this project for the Facebook Group Seed Beads & More.

Pick your path flowers and pods

 We called this project "Pick your Path", because that is exactly what it was all about: making decisions as to what to make with the techniques taught: we made bezels, petals, flowers and pods... 

Pick your path flowers
Cliff and I published alternately a portion of each step, in writing and in video, so that each participant could try the various possibilities and in the end, choose what they liked most.
In fact, we very gently took them down the rabbit hole of designing with beaded elements.
Pick your path - various elements and steps
I enjoyed seeing what people made. So many different colors and styles! And one big surprise was that no matter what color was chosen, everything that folks made looked lovely. 
We mentioned that the pod could be all sorts of things (a pumpkin, a Chinese lantern, a poppy seed pod, a pomegranate). 
Then, folks started to see things that we hadn't mentioned, like an urchin, a cactus... 
Someone even mentioned a thistle, and another a puffer fish! 
 We were happy to see that, thanks to our teachings, many felt more confident to create their own flowers and pods, and some even tassels and a potted daffodil flower with stem and leaves and all.

Pick your Path flowers, one with IBW flower petals.

We kept secret until the very end that all the way long, the participants were making...

... pencil toppers!
How fun is that?
I developed a design in parellel, based on my portion of the bead along. It started with a photo of a "Fritilaria Meleagris" posted by Anita Adamson a while ago and of course with a photo of urchins.

Here I used my own bezel, which is very different from Cliff's. I also included two seed bead brands - and used another bead count. It is also a pencil topper, but it can sure be a flower... 
... or a table decoration, a hair pin adornment, a focal, a brooch, a bottle lid, a doll house poof or a knob cover if you leave out the inside tube... 

 The way the various colors are placed is the result of many, many explorations.

You will find the tutorial how to make this urchin here
I will be really grateful for your support.

Please note that the urchin is different from the Peyote Cactus (the cactus that gave the name "peyote" to the beading stitch). 
Peyote cactus

This cactus includes Cliff's bezel, fine petals and embellishments. The pattern is already half-way done, and, as soon as I can, I will get back to tutifying this fundraiser for RMHC - the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Of course I will let you know when it will be ready, on Facebook and through my newsletter (subscribe to my newsletter to be sure to not miss it).
Peyote cactus

 Last but not least, I updated my workshop page with 2 more dates for the Sunshine workshop - there will be more dates, so if these two don't suit you, do not worry. I still need time before I can get "back to work" and take care of this type of things. 

You can contact me to be added to a waiting list. Don't forget to let me know your time zone so that you don't get added to the wrong list.  

Sunshine beaded by Eileen Montgomery (Canada)


 I look forward to beading together with you again. 

And perhaps we will meet on a special
Zoom drop-in during International Beading Week.

 Be(ad) well, take care



Saturday, July 17, 2021

IBW 2021 - "Hanging in there"

Beady peeps holding hands
International beading Week 2021 starts in one week!!!

Visit the Beadworkers Guild website, go to the page for IBW related events and then come on over to the group, invite/tell folks about your upcoming events if you plan to do something, may it be online or in real life. The incredible Cate Venn and her not less awesome husband Christopher, are hosting an informal Zoom beady get together the evening of the 29th and posted details about it in the group.

If you don't organize an event, show us your work made with one of the IBW patterns generously donated by the IBW Ambassadors. Show us photos of your mini-meetings with your beading buddy. Or videos if you like that better. Why? Because we need to share, more than ever, good moments. We need your joyful participation to help


which is our motto this year.

Thanks to the lovely members of the moderating/admin team who work hard behind the scenes, we will have a wonderful week of beading frenzy the IBW Facebook Group despite the pandemic.

Like every year, I am "hanging out there" to contribute too, and I will show you how to do my kind of freeform peyote. I don't think that I can call it freeform "à la Cath", but if like me you prefer to have some sort of methodology to help you "letting go" of strict structure, this might be your thing. And if this method is less about "letting go", it is a lot about "acceptance", because the beads will dictate their will.

My project may look like nothing yet, but wait for it! I am confident that you will love the final result. I'll show the WIP and will give guidance in the group, starting the 24th!

Hopefully, it will inspire you to get out more beads and do freeform peyote.
Gazebo Tassel
Gazebo cascading Tassel
Best of all, for us folks who cannot meet in person, the Guild has programmed MANY "drop-in" ZOOM meetings, bringing beadworkers together to share the love of the art of beading and stay in touch despite the sanitary restrictions. Beading keeps us sane! 
As every year, the Guild will do a draw and to enter, all you need to do is making a tassel and sending a photo of it to the Beadworkers Guild. Post it in the IBW Facebook group too, even if that is not mandatory. There are wonderful prizes to win!
You don't have to be a member to join the fun. And it's free! All you need to do is place your reservation in your cart in the Guild's shop, check out as a guest, and there is nothing to pay.
Among the new patterns offered by the IBW ambassadors is included my Gazebo cascading tassel. It will be available only during IBW so make sure to not miss it.
Of course you can become a member of the Guild any time, and get the beautiful 4 quarterly Journals. 
I am sure that you will like the bunch of bead-obsessed folks you will meet and will adore the magazine. 
And you know what? This month's issue cover girl is... moi! With another tassel and a necklace! Here two photos showing the necklace  left and the tassel on its own right. I should have made a video of it. It sparkles so much!

Last but not least, you can use a special discount code in my shop at the occasion of this wonderful week of beading frenzy.


Happy Beading to all!


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Beadworkers Guild Challenge 2021 - Save the planet - Bead it, dont bin it!

Gland - Switzerland

Here in Gland, where I live, glass, paper (clean of grease), cardbox (dito), PET (dito), metal, aluminium and even oils (mineral and non-mineral) are recuperated and recycled or treated. Same for batteries, mobile phones and other devices. 

Peels and other food waste go to the compost bin.  Every flat and house has a bin for that.

Old furniture and other stuff like that goes in a big container and will be sorted and everything that can be recycled will be sent to the right plant doing that.

The things not entering one of these categories and that are not toxic (which one has to bring back to the shop where it was bought, like medecines), go in the bin and will be burnt near Geneva, in a plant with specific filters for air protection, and the resulting energy heats the city of Geneva. We nevertheless have to pay our garbage bags a high price (to encourage recycling).

WWF/IUCN/Ramsar Convention main entrance.

The fact that Gland hosts the world headquarters of the WWF, brainchild of the IUCN, whose HQ are also in Gland, is certainly a reason why we have all this and I appreciate it. I even worked for the IUCN in the past and organised the creation of a beaded tree by people from many countries.

The WWF "celebrate" their 60th Jubilee this year. There are some specials in their online shop.

Now after reading the above, you may understand that I am glad that I already had kept something that I didn't want to bin, for I might still be searching for the subject of my entry in this year's BWG challenge: a bird.

Peace Astray

Peace Astray

Nothing was purchased for this project. The bird came from a broken kitchen clock, the cabochons and beads from stash, the crystal chain and chimera paws were left over from previous projects (my square for the Museum of Beadwork and my Fantasy Chess Play), the wooden base came from a beam hubby cut to raise his mom’s sofa and the metallic pin supporting the bird comes from an old bead-display.

Tools and glue for bead mosaic were in my home since several years, but I feared to waste materials. This year’s theme and Jan Huling’s 3 top tips in the 87th Journal lead this complete novice to do bead mosaics, inspired by Betsy Youngquist’s work.


The Guild encourages participants to challenge themselves. I had never done bead mosaics before so the whole project was a challenge and it was much harder than I thought (in particular on a base with carvings like this bird had). Gluing beads implies stringing them to «unstring» them in a specific manner. Adding one bead at a time with tweezers was sometimes easier. I learned so much! Using the right amount of glue, removing beads and glue with the right tools, etc. I had much fun.

Special characteristics:

The crystal chain draws a peace symbol on the back of the bird, hence the name Peace. This was not intentional. I added it without looking at it from the top, and suddenly it was there!. I also used a really special hollow cabochon made of old embossed metallic plane dashboards, which I got from Ruth Buffington (an amazing bead artist whose steam-punk creations I admire). This cabochon represents the loss of directions.

My work was that of a beginner, so unsurprisingly it didn't win anything, but I don't care about that. I knew that before submitting the piece. The importance is to participate. I am happy with both the journey and the result, and grateful that the BWG challenge has me push my boundaries.

There were very, very little participants in this Challenge, last year too. I hope that next year, with the super inspiring new theme and the probability that all the entries will be on display as in the past, there will be more entries. Why not yours?

Next year's challenge theme is "Hollywood or Bollywood".

Oh my!